SMITHFIELD, N.C. (WNCN) – At one point, many people thought catching COVID-19 would protect you from getting it again. But as the virus continues to mutate, that’s not necessarily the case. One Johnston County man said he’s been sick with COVID-19 not once, not twice, but three times.

Cody Purish has the routine down. He stays in his room, away from his family, hoping not to infect anyone else with COVID-19.

It’s been nearly a year since he first caught the coronavirus last January. He got it for the second time in August 2021. At that time, he was partially vaccinated. Now he’s fully vaccinated, so when he came down with a sore throat and runny nose, he didn’t really consider COVID-19 at first.

“I thought it was cold or sinus infection, maybe the flu,” he thought. With COVID-19 so prevalent in the community, he got a test just in case.

He said it came back positive.

“You’d think being fully vaccinated you’d be somewhat immune from this by now after having it two times, but I guess not,” Purish said.

“We know that all immunity wanes,” explained Jessica Dixon, an infection prevention specialist at WakeMed. “You cannot expect a history of infection to protect you for very long. We generally say you are not going to get reinfected within 90 days. Beyond that, it’s like all bets are off and there’s so much with this that is changing as these variants emerge.”

While Dixon said multiple reinfections are rare, Purish isn’t the first person she’s heard of who’s gotten COVID for a third time, despite being vaccinated.

“Unfortunately, what we’ve seen with omicron is it is better at evading some of the immunity that you have, and so it’s just going to be a little easier to catch,” she said. “This is a very risky time. There is more COVID out there now than there’s ever been.”

Still, Dixon emphasized that vaccines are keeping most people out of the hospital, even if they get sick. Purish has never been admitted to the hospital for COVID-19 but said it has caused complications with his diabetes. With this round of the virus, he has a bad headache, muscle pain, and coughing, but no fever.

He got his second shot several months ago and isn’t eligible for a booster quite yet, but he plans to get it as soon as he can.

“I just hope this is the third and last time I have to deal with this mess,” he said.