Vaccine still needed for recovered COVID-19 patients, doctors say

Most people who recover from COVID-19 likely have some amount of protection against getting the virus again, health experts say.

University of South Florida College of Public Health Distinguished Professor Dr. Thomas Unnasch says being re-infected can happen, but it's rare.

Unnasch specializes in emerging infectious diseases and says scientists are still not sure how long natural COVID-19 immunity lasts.

However, there is evidence that vaccine-induced immunity may be much stronger and lasts much longer than immunity built by contracting the virus.

MORE: Doctors say ending the pandemic requires masks, social distancing and a vaccine

That means even if you have recovered from the virus, you should get a coronavirus vaccine.

“If you’ve had the infection you still should go and get the vaccine,” said Unnasch. “Because the vaccine is going to target the business end of the virus and it’s going to protect you really well.”

Most people are still months away from getting the two-dose vaccine, so experts are urging people to act now by wearing masks indoors and stepping up social distancing.

At the beginning of December, the number of new daily cases reported by the state of Florida was between 8,000 and 10,000.

There could be 10,000 cases a day just in the bay area by next month, according to recent model data.

“If people want to get through this second wave and still need the vaccine out the other end, it’s gonna be a really good idea to try and do what we can to protect ourselves, protect our family, and protect others by wearing the mask and continuing to social distance,” Unnasch said. “This will be all over soon, but it’s not over yet.”

Learn more about possible COVID-19 vaccines on the CDC's website:

If you feel sick:

The Florida Department of Health has opened a COVID-19 Call Center at 1-866-779-6121. Agents will answer questions around the clock. Questions may also be emailed to Email responses will be sent during call center hours.

LINK: Florida's COVID-19 website

CORONAVIRUS IN FLORIDA: What you need to know


Map of known COVID-19 cases:

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