(Originally published on Oct. 5, 2021)By Susan-Elizabeth Littlefield

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — New data is out on how well COVID-19 vaccines work in those who’ve already been infected, and that cutting-edge research is coming from Minnesota.

More than 1,000 Minnesotans did test positive for the virus, leaving some to wonder if those who do have natural immunity actually need to get vaccinated. It turns out the answer to that question was actually discovered on the University of Minnesota campus. WCCO spoke with U immunologist Dr. Marc Jenkins.

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“We wanted to know like how does the immunity you get from the vaccine compare to the kind of immunity you get from the infection itself,” Jenkins said.

And the results surprised the world-renowned researcher. People who have not had COVID-19 and get the Moderna or Pfizer vaccines get solid protection from the virus, about 100-150 Memory B cells per million. But people who have had COVID-19 get six times that protection from just the first dose of the vaccine, which is about 600 Memory B cells.

(credit: CBS)

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“Many of them probably don’t need that second shot, but we found about 25% of them did benefit,” Jenkins said. “And because there are so few side effects, why not get that.”

As for those who had COVID-19 and think natural immunity is enough, he says to think again.

“You might not be fine … and this is going to be a serious insurance policy to give you solid protection,” he said. “Get vaccinated, whether you’ve had the prior infection or not.”

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Dr. Jenkins also says those who have had COVID-19 and are fully vaccinated with Moderna or Pfizer may have so much protection they will not need a booster shot. The study did not include the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

Susan-Elizabeth Littlefield