You are here

Is the COVID-19 Vaccine Necessary?


With much of our daily lives affected by COVID-19 and the rapid, sometimes confusing coverage of the vaccine creation process, many people have been asking a question that often accompanies new medicine: If I already got sick and recovered, do I even need this new vaccine? Gina DiCostanzo, a Board Certified Nurse Practitioner at Crystal Run Healthcare specializing in allergies and immunology, provides a few answers for those curious and confused.

Like other viruses, studies support that exposure to COVID-19 results in some immunity as the body produces protective proteins called antibodies in response to this exposure. Once we recover from the virus, our bodies create memory cells to recognize the virus and recruit antibodies quickly if we are exposed again. But how long do these antibodies last after the virus is defeated?

DiCostanzo said, “One of the key issues in addressing and successfully countering viral illnesses like COVID is determining precisely how long a person continues to produce these ‘protective proteins’ once they are recovered from COVID.”   

Most studies have shown that antibodies begin to develop within one to two weeks of a COVID-19 infection and can last up to a year in the body. Another method for producing antibodies is to receive an mRNA (messenger ribonucleic acid) vaccine, which introduces a small, inactive portion of the virus protein into the body. The inactive virus protein offers the body a way to identify the virus without actual viral exposure or infection.

However, this virus, like other coronaviruses, mutates and forms variants the longer they are able to spread. These variants allow the mutated virus to bypass our naturally acquired immunity. This also increases the chances of new types of COVID-19 infection and outbreaks. Antibodies formed by mRNA vaccines help combat or prevent these outbreaks because they target the virus in a different way than naturally-formed antibodies.

“Ultimately, the two types of antibodies may react to COVID variants differently,” said DiCostanzo. “By targeting a specific area of the virus, vaccine-generated antibodies seem to be more effective at recognizing and fighting variants and new mutations of the COVID virus. With this in mind, we need to consider that even antibody-positive individuals will likely stand a better chance of fighting COVID variants if they are also vaccinated.” 

It is important to recognize that although many treatments and recommendations for COVID-19 are new, they are backed by many years of related research. Keep yourself informed and optimize your health by having honest, informative, and fact-based conversations with trusted health care providers, like the immunologists at Crystal Run Healthcare, who provide world-class expertise for adults and children. Whether it’s for allergies or immunology, they work to diagnose, treat and manage allergies, asthma, and immunologic disorders, including primary immunodeficiency disorders in both adults and children. When it comes to your health, depend on providers like those at Crystal Run Healthcare who care about keeping you well!

For more information about the COVID-19 vaccine or to schedule a vaccine appointment at one of Crystal Run Healthcare’s locations in Orange, Sullivan, and Rockland counties, visit Gina DiCostanzo, RN, MS, ACNP-BC, is a Board Certified Nurse Practitioner specializing in allergy and immunology. DiCostanzo treats people of all ages and has clinical interests in allergies, dermatology, urgent care, and geriatrics. DiCostanzo is seeing patients at Crystal Run’s West Nyack office.