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Do you still need to get vaccinated if you've had COVID-19?

Health experts say the immunity the shots offer is much stronger and lasts longer than the natural immunity that comes from having the virus.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — COVID-19 vaccination rates have slowed across the country and in the Carolinas, as the delta variant threatens to undo some of the progress made.

More than half of North Carolina’s eligible population has not been even partially vaccinated. There are several factors, including hesitancy and accessibility. But some who have already had COVID-19 think they have enough protection to skip the shots.

“I’ve already had COVID and I’ll tell you firsthand that it wasn't fun. But I’m fine now," one man told WCNC Charlotte. "I would say drink your teas get your elderberry and you'll be fine."

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Anyone who gets the virus will also get antibodies that protect them from reinfection. But experts still don’t know how strong that protection is.

“We know that getting COVID and having natural immunity is not as consistent as vaccination,” Dr. David Priest with Novant Health said.

The vaccine stimulates the body to produce the same antibodies, and data shows all three vaccines are effective at doing that. But experts also still don't know how long natural immunity lasts, and as long as COVID-19 is still in the community, there's a chance of catching it.

“As we get more variants that are in the community, someone’s risk of reinfection may go up, based on different variants so again getting vaccinated is a way to reduce the spread of variants in our community but also to create that stronger and longer-lasting level of protection,” said Dr. Meg Sullivan, Mecklenburg county's medical director.

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Getting vaccinated is a personal choice, but it impacts the entire community.

“The vaccine is not just about protecting you, it’s about protecting others,” Sullivan said.

On Thursday, NCDHHS will announce the second summer cash drawing winners. The next chance to win is July 21.

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