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Ask Allie: What's the difference between natural immunity and the COVID vaccine?

"There's no guarantee that you won't get sick again. Our hope is, if you get vaccinated, and heaven forbid you get sick, you're not as sick,” explained Dr. Patri

ST. LOUIS — There's been a lot of talk recently on the difference between natural immunity — what you have after contracting COVID — and the immunity you get from the vaccine.

This, after NBA star and St. Louis native Bradley Beal revealed he's not vaccinated. Beal has had COVID-19, so he has natural immunity.

Beal specifically questioned the need for him to get the vaccine earlier this week. He said to reporters, "I would ask the question to those who are getting vaccinated, why are you still getting COVID?”

Beal isn't alone in his concerns.

Viewer Ryan Bemis tweeted 5 On Your Side's Allie Corey asking:

“Why isn't the media reporting on 'natural' immunity and how much stronger it is (Israel study) compared to 'artificial' immunity?”

VERIFY: Yes, an Israeli study did find natural immunity is effective in fighting COVID-19, but health experts still recommend vaccination

Allie took Ryan’s question to SSM Infectious Disease Specialist Dr. Mano Patri.

She said the vaccine is a valuable tool in fighting off severe illness from all the variants.

“You don't even know if you have natural immunity for how long, I can’t tell you, for how long. So, could you get Delta again? You could. You know, that's the hard part. We don't know. So, there's no guarantee that you won't get sick again. Our hope is, if you get vaccinated, and heaven forbid you get sick, you're not as sick,” explained Dr. Patri.

She also said "artificial immunity" is not the correct term to use for vaccines.

As for the Israel study, it was posted to Instagram by the user Texas Truther and has more than 4,000 likes. It reads, "Vaccinated people are 13 times more likely to catch COVID-19 than those who have recovered and have natural immunity."

Health experts said the study was not peer reviewed and pointed to the dangers of achieving natural immunity, compared to the safer route of getting vaccinated.

Dr. Patri also told 5 On Your Side the majority of the people hospitalized on ventilators are not vaccinated and that some have previously had COVID-19. She reiterated our best defense, from what their research shows, is the vaccine.

Dr. Patri also mentioned there is currently research ongoing to determine how effective natural immunity is, but she said it's simply too early and too difficult to pinpoint that specific data. With the vaccine, they have FDA-approved research that it’s effective against severe illness.

Do you have a question you want answered? Reach out to Allie Corey be email: acorey@ksdk.com.

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