COVID-19 questions: Do you need to get vaccinated if you previously tested positive?
Thousands of British Columbians have tested positive for COVID-19 since the pandemic began and the province's top doctor says many have asked if they still need to be vaccinated against the disease.
Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry spoke about vaccinations – and whether this group of more than 180,000 people should get their shots – during a live briefing Tuesday.
"The short answer is yes," she said.
Henry explained officials have looked at data on antibody levels from across Canada and the world.
"One of the things we know is the antibody levels after infection can be very varied. Some people's immune response can be really overwhelmed by infection, even with a mild or moderate infection," she said.
"Some people have a milder illness and they may not stimulate the whole part of their immune system."
Henry also said that the virus has changed since the pandemic began.
"We see that with a number of other viruses like influenza where it changes rapidly and it can evade your immune response, particularly if you were infected and had a milder infection with one of the strains that was circulating a year ago," she said.
Instead, Henry explained, the vaccine gives experts the ability to measure exactly how much antigen – or what causes an immune response – a person is receiving. She also said the vaccines give a standard response that lasts "for a long time" and that they offer a "broader protection" against different strains of COVID-19.
"We also know that some people who have recovered but have had 'long COVID' symptoms actually find their symptoms get better after immunization," she said.
Of course, in B.C., those who aren't vaccinated against COVID-19 are temporarily unable to access some non-essential activities like dining in at restaurants, going to the movie theatre or attending an indoor sporting event.
Only extremely rare exemptions are being considered by provincial health officials and no exemptions to the vaccine mandate are in place for those who have previously had COVID-19.
"For a number of reasons then, it is important, even if you've recovered from COVID-19, to receive a course of vaccination," Henry said.
"It's the best and longer-lasting, durable and wide-ranging protection that you can have, even as this virus is changing over time.