As the COVID-19 pandemic grinds on, the questions keep coming. Here's the latest from Novant Health doctors. 

If someone has had COVID-19 can they get it again and if so, how long before they are susceptible again?

Recent data suggests that people under the age of 65 who have had COVID-19 are protected about 80% in the six months after infection. Individuals who are over 65 are protected 47% of the time in the six months after having COVID-19. But that protection tends not to be as predictable, or even sometimes as vigorous as protection from the vaccinations. So, it is very important for those who have had COVID-19 to still get vaccinated. 

It’s also much safer to get your antibodies from a vaccine than it is to get COVID, which comes with risks of serious complications.


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What is a good response when people say they do not want to get vaccinated because they do not know the long-term side effects?

The mRNA technology in the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, is very fragile and disintegrates in roughly 48 hours. It does not affect DNA at all, so it has no long-term effects. It simply helps the body make a protein that looks like a COVID-19 protein, so your immune system recognizes it.

What is the main difference between the J&J, Moderna and Pfizer vaccines?

The Johnson & Johnson (Janssen) vaccine is a more traditional vaccine. It is a single dose. Pfizer and Moderna are both mRNA vaccines that are new as a delivery mechanism. They both help you form antibody to the spike protein which is how the SARS-CoV-2 enters the cell. Both require two vaccinations three or four weeks apart. They are all very effective at preventing serious illness and hospitalizations.