CDC vaccination schedule should incorporate prior infection, experts say
A growing number of experts are urging the U.S. government to formally recognize natural immunity, or the protection given by recovering from COVID-19.
More experts are arguing that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) recommended vaccination schedule should feature fewer doses—or none at all—for people who have contracted COVID-19 and survived.
“Natural infection should count as two doses,” Dr. Paul Offit, professor of pediatrics at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, and an adviser to the Food and Drug Administration on vaccines, told The Epoch Times.
Offit and two former FDA officials stated in a recent op-ed that “requiring people who have been infected to get three shots is overkill at best—a waste of valuable doses—and an unnecessary risk at worst (given that vaccines have side effects, albeit rare ones).”
Under current CDC guidance, all Americans 12 and older are advised to get three doses of the Moderna or Pfizer COVID-19 vaccines. The CDC defines fully vaccinated as people who get two shots of the Moderna or Pfizer COVID-19 vaccines, or the single-shot Johnson & Johnson jab.
The CDC’s guidance isn’t binding but is cited by companies and jurisdictions when imposing vaccine mandates. Many mandates force workers or residents to get fully vaccinated; others require a booster on top of the primary series because of waning protection. Few have exemptions for natural immunity.
Eric Topol, founder and director of the Scripps Research Translational Institute, wrote in a separate op-ed that the increasing number of studies showing how strong and long-lasting natural immunity is should prompt the CDC to redefine fully vaccinated in two ways: People who have gotten a primary series and not been infected should need a third dose, while those with prior infection should only need one shot.
Recent research on the matter includes a study funded by Johnson & Johnson and the U.S. government that found that previous infection alone provided 90 percent protection against moderate to severe COVID-19—the vaccine only provided 56 percent protection—and a paper backed by the CDC that found natural immunity was more protective than vaccination against the Delta variant of SARS-CoV-2.
Some experts, such as Offit, push for what’s known as hybrid immunity. They point to papers that suggest that people who have been infected and go on to get a single vaccine dose are better protected than those with prior infection who remain unvaccinated, including a Cleveland Clinic study published earlier in February.
Dr. David Boulware, a professor of medicine at the University of Minnesota, agrees.