While health officials agree that people who were previously infected with COVID-19 still need to get vaccinated, a UCLA study released Wednesday found that they only need one dose of the two-shot regimen to be fully protected.

But they and all people vaccinated against the virus, however, will likely need booster shots moving forward, because antibodies developed naturally or through the vaccine both waned at a relatively rapid pace.

“Our data suggest that a person who previously had COVID-19 has a huge response after the first mRNA vaccination and has little or no benefit from the second dose,” said senior author Dr. Otto Yang, professor of medicine, microbiology, immunology and molecular genetics at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA. “It is worth considering changing public health policy to take this into account both to maximize vaccine usage and avoid unnecessary side effects.”

According to the study, published in the journal ACS Nano, researchers found that previous infection with COVID-19 essentially serves as a first dose of the two-dose Pfizer of Moderna vaccines. Receiving one actual vaccine shot provides previously infected people with the same level of protection as two shots provide for people who were never infected.

Although additional study on T-cell responses to the vaccines is still needed, the study generally found that all vaccinated people, regardless of prior COVID infection, will likely need to have booster shots of vaccine.

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