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Yes, experts say you still need to get COVID vaccine even if you have antibodies

If you've had COVID-19, you probably have some antibodies. Dr. Shalika Katugaha says you still should get a vaccine.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla — Since the start of the pandemic, millions of people have gotten COVID-19 and many have survived. If you are one of them, you may still have the natural antibodies from the virus.

System Medical Director of Infectious Diseases at Baptist Health Jacksonville Dr. Shalika Katugaha says you should still get vaccinated. 

“We don’t know about natural antibodies," Katugaha said. "We don’t know enough about the people who have had COVID and their neutralizing antibodies. For example, we don’t know that if you had mild disease, do you have fewer antibodies. If you had severe disease, do you have more antibodies."

The delta variant, and the other variants of concern, also pose a risk for people who only have antibodies from having COVID.

“We don’t know about how these antibodies are from natural immunity in the face of variants either," Katugaha explained. 

Katugaha says scientists know more about the antibodies from vaccines because they are actively being studied and that data is constantly giving them new information.

“If you’re vaccinated you’re three times less likely to get COVID so all I have to offer and all science has to offer is our most powerful tool: the vaccine.”

If you have natural antibodies, and you get vaccinated, Katugaha says you'll have hybrid immunity. 

She also says a new study shows antibodies from vaccines work harder to protect you.

“They looked at blood from people who have been vaccinated versus people who have natural immunity," Katugaha explains. "What they found is that if you’ve been vaccinated, you target that receptor binding domain more which is very important because the receptor binding domain is how the virus then attaches on to human cells."

She says they also tested this on mutations of the virus similar to variants and vaccines still worked better.

The US is inching closer to 60 percent of the population vaccinated. 

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