How Long Will COVID-19 Vaccine Immunity Last?

In this short video, Dr. Hank Bernstein talks about immunity after COVID-19 vaccination. He also talks about protection and immunity after natural infection.


How long will COVID-19 vaccine immunity last?

Hank Bernstein, MD: Hi, I'm Dr. Hank Bernstein, and I'm speaking to you today on behalf of the Vaccine Education Center at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia. The question, how long will COVID-19 vaccine immunity last? There's not a straightforward answer to this question. Why? Because immunity may vary based on a person's age or their health status, the number of vaccine doses that they may have received, which variants are circulating in the community, and whether or not they've had COVID-19 before.

People who've been vaccinated and those of us who've also had COVID-19, which many people have, appear to be protected for at least six months and generally much longer after being vaccinated with their primary series of the COVID-19 vaccine.

Studies continue to show promising results that suggest lasting immunity from COVID-19 vaccines. And it's both encouraging and exciting that immunity may last much longer than we had originally anticipated. A key for long-lasting protection is the memory T cells that we have in our immune system. These T cells identify infected cells to attack. So, when someone is exposed to the virus, these T cells quickly go to work to develop lots more protection and keep us out of the hospital. But remember, someone who's vaccinated should not assume they will never get a COVID-19 illness. Instead, it's helpful and absolutely reassuring to know that by being vaccinated with the primary series, the vaccine is so powerful, and it protects you and your children against severe disease, needing to be in the hospital, or possibly dying.

The CDC recommends that even those who've had COVID-19 infection should still get the COVID-19 vaccine. If someone with a previous COVID-19 infection gets the vaccine, it will not harm him or her and will likely boost his or her protection. In fact, the data suggest that people who've had both vaccination and COVID infection are among the best protected because the vaccine adds to their level of immunity.

Thank you.

Related Centers and Programs: Vaccine Education Center

Last Reviewed on Mar 06, 2023