By Guy Page
Gov. Phil Scott and the Vermont Dept. of Health Chief Epidemiologist Dr. Patty Kelso both insist that Covid-19 immunity by vaccination is safer than, or at least a valuable addition to, natural immunity.
Since the beginning of the scientific study of viral epidemics, it’s been a given that people who get the virus and recover almost always have a strong natural defense – a ‘natural immunity’ – to contracting the same virus a second time.
As state and federal governments and private employers impose vaccination mandates as a condition of employment, many Americans who have survived Covid-19 are requesting a ‘natural immunity’ loophole. They’re asking: why should they be required to receive a vaccine they don’t need in order to keep a job they do need?
Vermont Daily Chronicle (at the 57:08 mark) asked about natural immunity vs. Covid vaccination immunity at last Tuesday’s press conference. Here’s the transcript, lightly edited for readability:
VDC: Governor, I wonder if either you or Dr. Kelso perhaps could explain why vaccination is needed for people with natural immunity as a result of having Covid. Isn’t natural immunity enough? And if not, why not?”
Gov. Scott: “My understanding is that the vaccine will actually give you more additional protection on top of your natural immunity. I don’t know if it’s been studied long enough. Maybe there’s not enough data available at this point to know how long your natural immunity lasts, whether it’s short-term or long-term, or more powerful or not as powerful as the vaccine. At this point in time it’s safe to have both. We encourage people to be vaccinated after, if they become a Covid case, to give you all the protection, more protection, on top of your natural immunity.”
Dr. Kelso: “The governor’s right. The data shows that the immunity that you get from being fully vaccinated is not only stronger but lasts longer than the immunity you have from having had Covid. It’s as simple as that. It’s based on the data,” Kelso said.
Kelso may be referring to this August 6, 2021 CDC statement, “a study of COVID-19 infections in Kentucky among people who were previously infected with SAR-CoV-2 shows that unvaccinated individuals are more than twice as likely to be reinfected with COVID-19 than those who were fully vaccinated after initially contracting the virus. These data further indicate that COVID-19 vaccines offer better protection than natural immunity alone and that vaccines, even after prior infection, help prevent reinfections.”
Another August 6 CDC statement, however, says that “Cases of reinfection with COVID-19 have been reported, but remain rare” and that ”ongoing COVID-19 studies will help us understand how likely is reinfection [and] how often reinfection occurs.”
Critics of Kelso’s claim ask why incidences of breakthrough Covid-19 are very rare among survivors, while vaccinated people comprised 76% of Vermont deaths from Covid in September (through Sept. 25). They also question Gov. Scott’s claim about vaccine safety, as [unverified] federal VAERS data show 16,000 deaths and 727,000 adverse health events through September 17, 2021. The vaccine has been in circulation for about nine months.