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Do COVID-19 survivors still need to get a vaccine?

Health worker with COVID vaccine. (KOMO)
Health worker with COVID vaccine. (KOMO)
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Even as tens of thousands of people are getting vaccinated this week in our state – many have ongoing questions about the COVID-19 vaccines, how they work and who can get them.

Every day, we get messages, e-mails and calls from viewers around Western Washington with questions and concerns about the COVID-19 vaccines.

Doctors said a large percentage of the population needs to get the coronavirus vaccine to achieve what’s called “herd immunity” – where most people are protected from COVID-19 and the virus stops circulating.

Larry Martin writes this question on Twitter: “I've seen that we have to have about 70 percent of people vaccinated to achieve herd immunity. do all the people who have already had COVID-19 count toward that goal?”

I took Martin's question to University of Washington Professor of Medicine and Head of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Anna Wald.

"Yes, we do count them towards the goal," said Wald.

Wald said the immune response someone develops from having COVID-19 works towards herd immunity in a community. However, Wald said COVID-19 survivors should still get the vaccine.

KOMO News viewer Rick Donovan in Mt. Vernon asked about just that.

"If you’re a COVID survivor, do you still need to get the vaccine?”

Wald said the recommendation is that COVID-19 survivors get the vaccine about 90 days after they recover from the infection and here’s why:

"Not everybody that has had COVID has had a robust, strong immune response," Wald said. "And pretty much everybody after the vaccine has a very strong immune response. So this is one of those situations where you think that the vaccine may better than nature and provide better immunity, so that people are less likely to get re-infected."

If you have questions about the COVID-19 vaccines – you can find us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram if you search for KOMO News. Use the hashtag #AskTheExperts.

Find our entire Ask the Experts series here to answer more of your common COVID-19 questions.

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