IF YOU’VE caught and recovered from COVID-19 infection, some questions bug your mind. Are you immune to the virus now? Can you go out in public without wearing a mask? Is it safe to travel or attend large gatherings? Do you still need to practice social distancing?
We checked with our infectious diseases and infection control expert Roy Chemaly, M.D. He shared these four Dos and Don’ts to help guide you.
Don’t assume you’re immune from COVID-19
The most important thing to do is not assume you’re immune to the coronavirus, even if you’ve had a confirmed COVID-19 diagnosis before.
“This disease hasn’t been around for a full year yet, and we’re still learning about it,” says Chemaly. “So, even if you had a severe case and made a full recovery with no complications, we don’t know if natural immunity will protect you or for how long.”
Whether immunity stems from a vaccine or actual exposure to the virus, experts speculate it may still only be temporary. That means people would likely need a booster shot every year to maintain enough antibodies to provide on-going protection.
“If the immune system treats this coronavirus more like the flu than the mumps, immunity may not last longer than four or five months,” adds Chemaly. “It may start off strong and then taper over time, which means people would need to be revaccinated. But it’s too early to say. Nobody really knows yet.”
And, he adds, cancer patients and other immunocompromised patients may not develop antibodies at all — either to natural infection or to vaccinations. So, it’s even more critical not to assume you’re safe from reinfection if you fall into one of these groups.