HONOLULU (KHON2) — With COVID cases on the rise in Hawaii many people are starting to take their normal precautions like wearing a mask indoors, washing their hands frequently, and opting to not go to crowded events or parties. 

But some are asking what happens if someone who has had COVID in the past gets re-infected with the virus?

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According to the CDC reinfection with the virus that causes COVID-19 means a person was infected, recovered, and then later became infected again. 

After recovering from COVID-19, most individuals will have some protection from repeat infections. However, reinfections do occur after COVID-19. 

The CDC reports overseeing ongoing studies of COVID to get a better understanding of repeat infections. 
Studies include:

  • How often do reinfections occur
  • Who is at higher risk of reinfection
  • How soon do reinfections take place after a previous infection
  • The severity (how serious the infection is) of reinfections compared with initial (the first) infections
  • The risk of transmission to others after reinfection

Brooks Baehr with Hawaii Department of Health said they do not have local data on re-infections for the state.

However, the CDC does provide information on how long a person who recovered from the virus may be susceptible to getting it again. 

They report some people with antibodies to SARS-CoV-2 may become infected after vaccination (vaccine breakthrough infection) or after recovering from a past infection (reinfected). 

Based on their current studies, the risk of reinfection is low for at least the first 6 months following infection with the virus that causes COVID-19 diagnosed by a laboratory test. 

No vaccine is 100% effective, so some breakthrough infections are expected. The risk of infection, severe illness, hospitalization, and death are all much lower for vaccinated people compared to people who are unvaccinated. 

When reinfections or breakthrough infections happen, having antibodies plays an important role in helping prevent severe illness, hospitalization, and death.

COVID antibodies are expected to decrease over time. After a long enough period, your level of antibodies can decrease below a level that provides effective protection. 

Even after antibodies, your decreased immune system may have cells that remember the virus that can act quickly to protect you from severe illness if you become infected. 

Get more coronavirus news: COVID vaccines, boosters and Safe Travels information

For more information on reinfections and the current studies head to the CDC’s website