New CDC Study: Vaccination Offers Higher Protection than Previous COVID-19 Infection

Study participants were over 5 times more likely to have COVID-19 if they were unvaccinated and had a prior infection

Media Statement

Embargoed Until: Friday, October 29, 2021, 1:00 p.m. ET
Contact: Media Relations
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Today, CDC published new science reinforcing that vaccination is the best protection against COVID-19. In a new MMWR examining more than 7,000 people across 9 states who were hospitalized with COVID-like illness, CDC found that those who were unvaccinated and had a recent infection were 5 times more likely to have COVID-19 than those who were recently fully vaccinated and did not have a prior infection.

The data demonstrate that vaccination can provide a higher, more robust, and more consistent level of immunity to protect people from hospitalization for COVID-19 than infection alone for at least 6 months.

“We now have additional evidence that reaffirms the importance of COVID-19 vaccines, even if you have had prior infection. This study adds more to the body of knowledge demonstrating the protection of vaccines against severe disease from COVID-19. The best way to stop COVID-19, including the emergence of variants, is with widespread COVID-19 vaccination and with disease prevention actions such as mask wearing, washing hands often, physical distancing, and staying home when sick,” said CDC Director Dr. Rochelle P. Walensky.

The study looked at data from the VISION Network that showed among adults hospitalized with symptoms similar to COVID-19, unvaccinated people with prior infection within 3-6 months were 5.49 times more likely to have laboratory-confirmed COVID-19 than those who were fully vaccinated within 3-6 months with mRNA (Pfizer or Moderna) COVID-19 vaccines. The study was conducted across 187 hospitals.

COVID-19 vaccines are safe and effective. They prevent severe illness, hospitalization, and death. CDC continues to recommend everyone 12 and older get vaccinated against COVID-19.

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CDC works 24/7 protecting America’s health, safety and security. Whether disease start at home or abroad, are curable or preventable, chronic or acute, or from human activity or deliberate attack, CDC responds to America’s most pressing health threats. CDC is headquartered in Atlanta and has experts located throughout the United States and the world.

Page last reviewed: October 29, 2021