April 29, 2021

How to Talk With Patients Who've Had COVID-19 About the Vaccine

Adam Knee

In a webinar hosted by the Roxbury Presbyterian Church, epidemiologist Cassandra Pierre, MD, MPH, addressed a common COVID-19 vaccine question.

People who have previously tested positive for COVID-19 will have had an immune response that produced antibodies to the virus, possibly excepting some patients who are immunosuppressed. So, it raises questions and confusion in the community about the need for a vaccine for people who have already survived COVID-19.

Cassandra Pierre, MD, MPH, an infectious disease physician and associate hospital epidemiologist at Boston Medical Center discussed this topic during a webinar while answering an audience member’s question: “If I already have had COVID-19, am I immune?” Pierre’s thorough response about why people who have already had COVID-19 should still get the vaccine works as an effective blueprint for fellow physicians to speak to their patients about the same subject.

The webinar, which you can watch in full on YouTube, was hosted by the Cory Johnson Program for Post-Traumatic Healing at the Roxbury Presbyterian Church. Moderators Reverend Liz Walker and Reverend Gloria White-Hammond, MD, spoke with Pierre, Simone S. Wildes, MD, and members of the community about the COVID-19 vaccine. It was part of the program’s series, “Coping in This Season of COVID-19” and allowed community members to share their stories, concerns, and questions with healthcare professionals.

Responding to the question, “Should you get the vaccine if you’ve already had COVID-19?”

cassandra headshot boston medical center

Cassandra Pierre, MD, MPH

“We absolutely recommend that you get vaccinated even if you have had COVID. And there are two reasons why. One is because we see that the immune response you develop after getting the COVID-19 vaccine is just much more robust, stronger, more developed after getting the vaccine than after having the disease. That might seem really strange to some people, but that’s something that we’ve actually seen with other vaccine-preventable diseases as well.

The other reason why, which is also really important, is that we hope to extend the duration of your immunity by getting the vaccine. The latest we have data is six months post-vaccination, and we are seeing that people continue to have vaccine-related immunity as far out as that six months. Specifically, people who’ve been vaccinated, you see over 90% efficacy still six months later. That is really encouraging, and that’s another reason to get the COVID-19 vaccine even if you have been infected.”

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About the Author

Caitlin White

Caitlin White is the Senior Content Manager at Boston Medical Center.

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