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Health Officer Counters Shirkey's 'Natural Immunity' Claim

Linda Vail Zoom image
Ingham County Health Officer Linda Vail, speaking with reporters via Zoom on Tuesday

Ingham County Health Officer Linda Vail disputes a claim made in a tweet by state Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey. The Clarklake Republican, who has had COVID-19, says he has “natural immunity” and should count towards the state’s immunity totals.

Vail points out that the state of Michigan and the Centers for Disease Control do not use the phrase “naturally immunized” to describe people who have had COVID-19. “While being sick with COVID does provide some immunity," Vail says, "there is really not any good information related to how long that lasts.”

Natural infection will create some immunity, but Vail adds "how robust that is, is an unknown. There are studies out there showing that the vaccine does give a more robust response.”

Vail also says there is a concern about whether that immunity would continue to protect against variants of the coronavirus. Being infected twice is rare, she says, but can happen, and can lead to life-threatening complications.

Scott Pohl is a general assignment news reporter and produces news features and interviews. He is also an alternate local host on NPR's "Morning Edition."
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