October 21, 2021 – Some workers opposed to vaccine mandates on the job are pointing to the same reason for their objection: They already had Covid-19.
The Labor Department on Sept. 9 recommended that private companies mandate vaccines for all employees or require them to submit to regular Covid-19 tests. Tens of thousands of U.S. workers across industries from healthcare to education to airlines and the military face dismissal if they fail to get vaccinated in coming months.
However, some employees are asking that immunity from prior Covid-19 infection be recognized alongside vaccination as sufficient protection against the virus, the Wall Street Journal reports
Attorneys general of 24 states wrote in a letter to President Biden last month that more than 120 million Americans previously infected with Covid-19 had a degree of immunity that the attorneys general say should excuse those people from vaccine mandates.
Research comparing immune responses in people who have recovered from Covid-19 to those who have been vaccinated has been mixed.
Many studies have found that mRNA vaccines produce a higher level of neutralizing antibodies immediately after inoculation than Covid-19 infections.
Antibody levels in vaccinated people and those who have recovered from infections drop over time, several studies have shown, reducing some of the immunity that both groups of patients have developed – hence why the FDA has approved booster shots of the vaccine.
Anthony Fauci, Mr. Biden’s chief medical adviser, said that although we are learning more about post-infection immunity, vaccines are still the recommendation because there has been more precise research into vaccine-based immunity. Most of the recent advances in understanding of prior infections come from lab studies of tissue samples rather than from clinical studies that would control for more variables and might give a better sense of the depth of protection provided by prior infection, he said.
Another argument in favor of vaccines is that vaccine dosage and administration are standardized, whereas infections come with more variables and produce a wider range of reactions, researchers say.