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Does the COVID-19 booster shot protect you if you’ve had COVID?

If you’ve had COVID-19, do you need the booster shot?

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A vial of the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine.

Davis County community health nurse Erin Olpin holds a vial of the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine as she prepares booster doses at the Legacy Events Center in Farmington on Monday, Oct. 25, 2021.

Kristin Murphy, Deseret News

Booster shots are here. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Food and Drug Administration both approved the COVID-19 vaccine booster shots for all Americans late last week, giving all Americans a chance to bolster their immunity to the coronavirus.

But do those with natural immunity need the shot? And does the COVID-19 booster shot protect those who had COVID-19 already?

How many people got COVID-19?

Based on official numbers from the CDC, more than 47 million people in the U.S. have been infected with the coronavirus. That’s based on COVID-19 test results, though, which means the true number could be much higher.

Do you have immunity if you had COVID-19?

Those who caught the coronavirus often have a natural immunity to the virus, protecting them from another round of sickness.

Dr. Duane Wesemann, an immunologist at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School, told NPR that those with natural immunity are likely more protected than those who got the vaccines.

  • “It’s fair to say that your immunity is likely going to be stronger so that the chance of getting sick, especially with the delta variant, is very, very low,” he said.

Do you need need a booster if you had COVID-19?

Experts told NPR that people who were previously infected should still get their COVID-19 booster shots.

There’s no harm in getting the shot, so you might as well improve the immune system, said John Wherry, director of the Institute for Immunology at the University of Pennsylvania.

  • “The safety profile looks pretty similar during primary vaccination and boosters and it does not look to be terribly different depending on whether you previously had COVID or not,” Wherry told NPR.

There has been some talk about experts about how those who were infected with COVID-19 and got their COVID-19 vaccines might have super immunity to the virus, too, as I wrote for the Deseret News.