DENVER (KDVR) — Thousands of Coloradans have contracted COVID-19 twice, and a handful have been diagnosed with the virus three times, according to new data from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment.
The data shows 2,625 reinfection cases from January-August 2021. Of those cases, 446 were among fully vaccinated people, and 2,178 people were not vaccinated.
Since the start of the pandemic, 12 cases of double reinfection were reported — that’s people who contracted the virus three times.
Health experts say there are a number of factors that may contribute to reinfection numbers. It’s unclear exactly how long natural immunity lasts following initial infection. That immunity might not hold up as well against new variants of the virus.
“This is a circulating respiratory virus. It’s highly, highly infectious and highly mutable, so it is changing a lot. That is the nature of the biology of a respiratory virus. It’s constantly trying to change and find ways to infect people,” said Dr. James Neid, director of infection prevention at Medical Center of Aurora.
“Some of the people that get reinfected may have compromising conditions that affect their immune system,” said Dr. Michelle Barron, senior medical director of infection prevention at UCHealth.
Doctors say the reinfection rates highlight the need to get vaccinated, even for those who have already contracted COVID-19.
“Based on all the data we’ve gathered in the last 18 months, even if you’ve had infection recently, having vaccination sort of allows for that more broad immune response,” Barron said.