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It is currently unknown how long natural immunity lasts after recovering from COVID-19. Early evidence suggests natural immunity from COVID-19 may not last very long, and cases of reinfection have been reported. Research suggests that for most people, vaccination will lengthen and increase the immunity to COVID-19.
The Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) makes recommendations on how to best use COVID-19 vaccines, and the FDA authorizes use. We will allow for all permissible uses once they are authorized. We anticipate having more specific guidance following ACIP and FDA recommendations in the coming days.
We need to use all the tools available to use to stop the spread of COVID-19. It will take time after the vaccination for your body to respond and make enough antibodies to protect you. This could take up to 1-2 weeks after your last dose.
Current info suggests that it is possible that someone who has been vaccinated against COVID-19 may still have a mild or asymptomatic infection or spread the virus to others, especially to those who are not yet vaccinated, so it is important to continue taking precautions. Continue wearing masks and practicing physical distancing until it is clear that it is safe to stop.
To be as safe as possible, until the vaccine is widely available and both parties are fully immunized, we all need to continue to follow critical public health guidance. Prevention methods still include: wearing a mask in public, maintaining at least 6 feet physical distance from others not in our household, avoiding large crowds, washing our hands often, and staying home when we are sick.
Until the vaccine is widely available and all household members are fully immunized (and have waited the appropriate time after the second dose), all people in the household will need to continue to follow critical public health guidance, including: wearing a mask in public, maintaining at least 6 feet physical distance from others not in your household, avoiding large crowds, washing your hands often and staying home when you are sick. Distributing a COVID-19 vaccine to the entire state of Colorado will take time. Stay the course until it is your turn for a vaccine.
The protection someone gains from having an infection (called natural immunity) varies depending on the disease, and it varies from person to person. Because this virus is new, we don’t know how long natural immunity might last. Some early evidence — based on a small sample size of people — seems to suggest that natural immunity may not last very long. Regarding vaccination, we won’t know how long immunity lasts until we have more data on how well it works over time. Experts are trying to learn more about both natural immunity and vaccine-induced immunity of COVID-19.
Community immunity, sometimes called herd immunity, means that enough people have developed immunity to a disease (either naturally or through vaccination) that there is no longer a risk of community transmission or outbreaks. Until we better understand COVID-19 immunity, we won’t know the percent of people who need to get the vaccine for community immunity, though we anticipate it will likely be between 70-90%. For other vaccine-preventable diseases, this number often falls in the 80-95% range (for example, measles is 95% and polio is 80%, according to the World Health Organization). What we do know, however, is that the more people who receive the vaccine and follow other public health guidelines, the better chance we have of achieving community immunity.
We will be closely monitoring the vaccine’s effect on the number of new COVID-19 cases in Colorado. Because the initial supply of vaccine is expected to be limited, we still need all Coloradans to do their part to prevent the spread of the virus. Wear a mask, keep 6 feet of distance from others who don’t live with you, avoid gatherings, wash your hands often, and stay home when you are sick.