BOULDER, Colo. (KDVR) — New research out of the University of Colorado Boulder suggests people who have already had COVID-19 should give up their spot in the vaccination line, allowing access to someone who hasn’t been exposed.
In that research, scientists used five prioritization models to figure out how to best prioritize limited numbers of vaccine doses.
The study focused on “Phase 2” of the vaccine rollout, operating under the notion that the first set of doses would go to frontline workers.
“Prioritizing those adults who were 60 plus, in our model, really resulted in the biggest reduction in mortality,” says Dr. Dan Larremore, an assistant professor of computer science at CU.
Larremore says a PhD student named Kate Bubar developed and ran the models.
The research found herd immunity could be reached faster if people who haven’t had COVID were prioritized.
“Those people who are in the front of the line, but already had COVID, might consider stepping to the back of the line or somewhere farther back in line to allow those that have had no exposure so far to get the vaccines first,” says Larremore. “What we find when we do that in the models, is that it increases the speed that we approach herd immunity if we’re trying to reduce infections or these reductions in mortality. They all come a little bit sooner if people voluntarily give up their early spot in line.”
A Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment spokesperson said they are reviewing the study. It remains unclear if that is something state health officials would consider.
“While our work is theoretically useful and may guide some future decisions, right now we just don’t know how long durability of naturally acquired immunity is going to last, and we don’t know how protective naturally acquired immunity is relative to the vaccine,” says Larremore.
For more on the study’s findings, visit CU’s website.