Vaccinated, boosted, recovered from COVID: How protected am I?

You’ve been vaccinated, received a booster shot and have recovered from a recent COVID-19 infection, how protected are you against the virus?

The co-director of Mayo Clinic’s vaccine research group, Dr. Rick Kennedy, says if you fall in the category you should feel safe but not overconfident.

“I’d say they’re in great shape for several months,” Kennedy said.

“Barring a new variant arising that’s able to evade some of that immunity,” he added. “The vaccines and prior infection are only focused on either the original strains or whatever variant they were infected with earlier.”

Breakthrough cases of COVID-19 — meaning someone who is fully vaccinated and tests positive for COVID-19 — have happened since the vaccine has been available, but as the very contagious omicron variant spread throughout our communities, they became more common.

Kennedy says there’s also more to learn about this virus and that people who have received three doses of the vaccine and now have “natural immunity” from a recent COVID-19 infection should not be overly confident after they recover.

KSTP medical expert Dr. Archelle Georgiou adds because some people still can’t get the vaccine, including children younger than 5 years old, people should continue to be as safe as possible.

“We don’t know how protected we are,” Dr. Georgiou said about those who had a breakthrough case. “We also importantly don’t know how much we are able to infect others, and that’s really important,” she added.

Of the many of breakthrough cases during the omicron spike was Theresa Malloy Lemickson of the Twin Cities metro. She’s been battling symptoms for nearly a month.

“I had a lot of lung issues, I didn’t have fever, I didn’t have a lot of symptoms other people had, but [also had] a lot of exhaustion,” Malloy Lemickson said.

As somebody with asthma, Malloy Lemickson says she did what she could to keep a COVID-free-home: She was fully vaccinated and had her booster shot.

“Once it started attacking the lungs and I was having difficulty breathing, it was clear that it was COVID,” Malloy Lemickson said. “It was really sad, though. It was really hard to understand that I had COVID because I had done so much to try to not get COVID.”

Nearly a month after her symptoms began, Malloy Lemickson is still recovering. Part of the reason she shared with 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS was to remind people we’re not out of this yet.

“I think I would tell people that you really need to be kind [and] you need to make decisions that keep other people safe,” Malloy Lemickson said.

Both Kennedy and Georgiou stressed the importance of getting vaccinated to best protect yourself and to get the booster when you can. Information on where to get vaccinated can be found here.

A recent Centers for Disease Control and Prevention study highlights how effective the COVID-19 vaccine series and booster shots are.

The data from the study was taken during the spike of omicron. According to the CDC, people who were vaccinated and had their booster shot were as high as 23 times less likely to end up in the hospital if they had COVID-19.