COVID reinfections becoming more common with omicron variant

·2 min read

Jan. 25—Recurring COVID-19 infections are potentially more common than most might think, according to Dr. Assedu Kalik, internal medicine specialist and primary care physician, especially for those who are unvaccinated.

Kalik said he has seen many patients since the beginning of the pandemic who have been infected more than once by COVID-19.

"It's very common to get reinfected, especially now with omicron; it's very rampant ... it's very fast-spreading," he said.

Reinfection, he said, typically occurs between three-to-four months after the first infection for those who are unvaccinated, as natural immunity typically only lasts in the body for the same duration of time.

"After five months, natural immunity does not last," he said. "People think, 'oh, I had it and now I'm good.' No, you're not good, you're going to be in trouble within four months' time."

Reinfections are even being seen, he said, in vaccinated individuals after about six months or so, making the receiving a booster shot vital to prevent reinfection.

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there is still much to learn about reinfection. The CDC is currently conducting studies to better understand how often reinfection occurs, who is at higher risk for reinfection, how soon they take place and difference in severity compared to initial infections, as well as the risk of transmission to others after reinfection.

Kalik said reinfection severity can vary depending on the person and the strain in which they were infected with, but it is just too early to have exact information.

"Viruses are constantly changing, including the virus that causes COVID-19. These changes can lead to the emergence of variants (new strains of the virus) that can increase the risk of reinfection," the CDC stated. "CDC continues to work to better understand reinfections with COVID-19 to inform public health action."

In the meantime, the CDC and Kalik urge vaccination as the best protection against contracting the virus or being reinfected.

Kalik said boosters are important in helping combat that in the long run, as well.

"Don't waste time — just go ahead and get the vaccine," he said.

To schedule a vaccine appointment, visit OwensboroHealth.org/Vaccine.

Vaccines are available to anyone ages 5 and older, with 5-11-year-olds receiving a smaller dose than those ages 12 and older.

Anyone ages 12 and older who has been fully vaccinated for at least six months with the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine is eligible for a booster. Anyone ages 18 or older who has been vaccinated at least two months by the Johnson & Johnson vaccine is also eligible for a booster dose.

Christie Netherton, cnetherton@messenger-inquirer.com, 270-691-7360