Two newly-released studies indicate there may be a pathway to lifetime immunization from COVID-19, and for some people, it may require only the original vaccination.
Since their arrival, there have been questions about how long the coronavirus vaccines will protect us and whether annual COVID-19 booster shots will be necessary.
NBC 7 checked in with a local physician who guided us through this newly published research.
Two studies indicate our memory B-cells, cells in your body that retain memory of the virus, can create antibodies to fight the infection.
“It is very encouraging and only time will tell if this holds true, but at least from a scientific standpoint, it seems to be accurate," local Otolaryngologist Dr. Paul Schalch Lepe said.
Dr. Lepe said the studies would suggest many people who received a vaccine after recovering from COVID-19 could be immune from the disease for life.
"That should remind people that even if you had COVID you should pursue vaccination and then finally have that permanent immunity, so you will never be affected by COVID-19 again," Dr. Schalch Lepe said.
The studies were published in the journal "Nature" and "BioRxiv" Monday. Researchers found in the BioRxiv study these B-memory cells were present in the bone marrow of 15 of the 19 people tested.
"If you find those changes and permanent traits at the bone marrow level you know, with quite a bit of certainty, the system has been retrained," Dr. Schalch Lepe said.
Vaccines do not have the same staying power in everyone.
Dr. Lepe said those vaccinated people who have not contracted the disease will likely need more doses in the future.
The studies also suggest those vaccinated after recovering from COVID-19 are better protected from emerging variants.