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Local doctors urge Wisconsinites to get vaccinated even if they've had COVID-19

Group of people after getting the covid-19 vaccine.
Jacob Lund
Stock Adobe
Group of people after getting the covid-19 vaccine.

Some conservatives are again promoting the idea that if you've had COVID-19, you have built up natural immunity and may not need to be vaccinated.

Wisconsin U.S. Senator Ron Johnson, who tested positive for the coronavirus last year, has been promoting the immunity idea for months.

Here's what Johnson told news reporters about COVID-19 in August:

"I already had it. So, I'm 13 more immune — 13 times more immune — than anybody vaccinated."

Two doctors from the extensive health care system, Advocate Aurora Health, say that line of thinking is wrong. Raul Mendoza is a pulmonologist expert for Aurora in Green Bay.

Mendoza said science tells us that "immunity fades rather quickly, and the anti-bodies do not disappear but become weak, and as the mutants just come in, then the chances for re-infection are quite high. However, if there is a previous COVID infection and we decide to go for a vaccine, the hybrid immunity — the combination of natural immunity, plus vaccination — will protect much better than anything else."

Dr. Raul Mendoza, of Advocate Aurora Health
Screenshot taken by Chuck Quirmbach
Dr. Raul Mendoza, of Advocate Aurora Health

Dr. Robert Citronberg is Advocate Aurora's executive medical director of Infectious Disease and Prevention. Citronberg said if you've had COVID-19 and recovered, you can possibly wait up to three months for vaccination.

"The risk of getting re-infected in that immediate post-COVID period is quite low, but as Dr. Mendoza pointed out, the single most robust immunity that you can achieve is by being vaccinated after you've had COVID. That's the gravy," Citronberg said.

Citronberg spoke as Advocate Aurora, which serves Wisconsin and Illinois, reported a 100% increase in COVID-19 hospitalizations over roughly the last 30 days. The Wisconsin Hospital Association said statewide more than 1,700 people are in the hospital with the disease that has killed about 9,400 in Wisconsin.

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