Science, Art, Litt, Science based Art & Science Communication
Q: Do vaccines actually reduce or destroy our natural immunity?
Krishna: Immunity is your body’s ability to protect you from getting sick when you are exposed to an infectious agent.
Natural immunity is the antibody protection your body creates against a germ once you’ve been infected with it. Natural immunity varies according to the person and the germ.
Vaccine-induced immunity is what we get by being fully vaccinated with an approved or authorized vaccine.
Vaccines too boost your body's 'natural' immunity! This is not artificial in the real sense. Moreover, you will not get immunity for germs you are not exposed to if you don't take vaccines.
The difference between vaccine induced immunity and germ induced immunity is like training for a war and fighting actual war. With vaccines you are introducing a weakened germ or a part of it so that you won't get a harmful infection but at the same time you will develop immunity towards it. It is like training your immune system to fight the enemy.
Even if you have natural immunity, you will still get benefitted by vaccine-induced immunity.
If you are infected with a single variant, you will get natural immunity for that variant only.
But if the vaccine is developed for multiple variants, you will get immunity for multiple variants.
Let us take the example of Covid-19
People infected with earlier versions of the coronavirus and who haven’t been vaccinated might be more vulnerable to new mutations of the coronavirus such as those found in the delta variant. To date, the authorized vaccines provide some protection from serious disease or death due to all currently circulating corona virus variants.
But if the vaccine is developed for multiple variants, you will get immunity for multiple variants. Several studies show getting vaccinated for the coronavirus when you’ve already had COVID-19 significantly enhances your immune protection and further reduces your risk of reinfection.
A study published in August 2021 indicates that if you had COVID-19 before and are not vaccinated, your risk of getting re-infected is more than two times higher than for those who got vaccinated after having COVID-19 (1).
A study from the CDC in September 2021 showed that roughly one-third of those with COVID-19 cases in the study had no apparent natural immunity (1).
Studies show that the answer to this question will vary based on how an individual’s antibodies against SARS-CoV-2 were generated: over the course of a naturally acquired infection or from a COVID-19 vaccine. The evidence shows that protective antibodies generated in response to an mRNA vaccine will target a broader range of SARS-CoV-2 variants carrying “single letter” changes in a key portion of their spike protein compared to antibodies acquired from an actual infection.
These results add to evidence that people with acquired immunity may have differing levels of protection to emerging SARS-CoV-2 variants. More importantly, the data provide further documentation that those who’ve had and recovered from a COVID-19 infection still stand to benefit from getting vaccinated.
In that sense, vaccines actually enhance your natural immunity!