WEB EXCLUSIVE: I made it this long without the vaccine. Why would I get it now?


FILE – A healthcare worker fills a syringe with the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine at Jackson Memorial Hospital on Oct. 5, 2021, in Miami. U.S. regulators have opened up COVID-19 booster shots to all and more adults, Friday, Nov. 19, letting them choose another dose of either the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky, File)

HUNTINGTON, WV (WOWK) – Many are fighting vaccine mandates with the argument of “natural immunity.”

According to Dr. Sherri Young with the Kanawha-Charleston Health Department, “natural immunity is what happens when your body fights off an infection, and it builds antibodies to keep that infection from coming back.”

How does natural immunity work?

Young says “if you’ve recently had COVID-19, your body is going to get antibodies that recognize that M-proteins (little spikes on the edge of the COVID-19 virus). And what happens is your IGG will go up, your IGA will go up, and a little while later, your IGM will go up,” so for a while you will have a temporary immunity.

She says the biggest difference between natural immunity and the vaccine is natural immunity protects against the virus for a shorter length of time. Studies show natural immunity weans off after around 2-3 months, whereas the COVID-19 vaccine provides protection for around 6 months.

Young also explains there’s no way to test how much natural immunity someone has built up against the virus; so, one person’s immunity may differ from someone else’s.

I haven’t gotten the vaccine yet, and I’m fine. Why would I get it?

“We are still at risk for another surge and they can get it later. Let’s not get [the virus] at all. Let’s get everyone taken care of. Let’s not have another surge like the one we just came out of or the one that we had last winter. We don’t need that. We have the ability to protect our community against that and it’s up to all of us to do that,” says Dr. Michael Kilkenny, the Health Officer with the Cabell Huntington Health Department.

He says even if you have some immunity to the virus, a fully-vaccinated person is going to be the best protected.

Are the at-home antibody tests legit?

“The ones that test for the antibodies, to my knowledge, most of those are not EUA approved or FDA approved, so there’s no guarantee on the quality of those.”

Young advises anyone who’s interested in testing their antibody status to go to their primary care physician or find a lab where they can get blood drawn to see where their antibody levels are.

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