Health Updates

Should People Who Had COVID-19 Get Vaccinated? Here’s What You Should Know.

If you already have had COVID-19, you might be wondering if you should plan to get vaccinated.

Photo: COVID Vaccination | InStyleHealth

Doctors are still looking into how long immunity from natural infection with the coronavirus lasts, but the current thinking is that antibody levels begin to drop after a few months, particularly in asymptomatic and milder cases, eventually leaving people susceptible to catching the virus a second time.

Though this particular issue needs more research, health experts suspect that people with a recent COVID-19 infection may be able to hold off a few months before getting the vaccine. Those who have been recovered from COVID-19 for several months, however, should plan to get the shot as soon as it becomes available to them.

Here’s some information you need to know and why you should get vaccinated:

You’re probably protected for a few months after a COVID-19 infection.

Experts believe people who were recently infected probably don’t need to get the shot right away.

Studies have found that neutralizing antibodies produced by natural infections last, at the very least, for a few months. In cases of reinfection, the second illness typically doesn’t occur until three to four months after the first.

If you had COVID-19 several months ago, however, that might be a different case.

It’s generally believed that natural immunity from COVID-19 drops after a few months, though evidence has been mixed. We also know that antibody levels from other common coronaviruses decline rapidly, and the same could be true with COVID-19, according to experts.

Doctors would recommend the vaccine for someone who had COVID-19 three to four months ago (or longer), especially if it was a milder case.

Researchers currently suspect that immunity conferred by the vaccine will be more robust than immunity achieved from natural disease.

Are there risks to getting the vaccine if you already had COVID-19?

There isn’t much research on how previously infected patients respond to the coronavirus vaccine.

Vaccine clinical trials only recently started focusing on participants who’d had COVID-19 to learn more about the body’s response to vaccination where there had already been an immune response.

The good news; however, according to experts is that the Pfizer vaccine was just as safe in people with neutralizing antibodies as it was in people with no neutralizing antibodies.

That said, more data is needed to determine if this will always be true.

One theory is that the vaccine could increase antibody levels in people who’ve already been infected, essentially working like a booster shot. But there’s also a chance at the very least.

There are plenty of cases where people have safely been vaccinated after having a particular disease like the flu, polio or chickenpox.

Should you get an antibody test before the COVID-19 vaccine?

Some doctors have toyed with the idea of conducting antibody tests to determine if someone has natural immunity before administering the vaccine.

There are at least 16 million Americans have already had COVID-19, and several more will likely get it in the weeks and months ahead, so some percentage of the population will be immune when the vaccine becomes available to them.

In theory, testing for neutralizing antibodies would identify people with no immunity who could be prioritized for vaccination so we can reach herd immunity faster.

Antibody tests can be expensive. They’re also not foolproof and occasionally lead to false negatives and false positives. And uncertainty remains regarding what exactly antibody levels tell us about protection.

Because of these concerns, doctors suggest antibody testing wouldn’t be necessary unless researchers found out there was a real risk in vaccinating previously infected people.

One thing is for sure, right now – The safest bet is to get the vaccine as planned when it’s your turn, unless you’ve very recently recovered from COVID-19. In the latter case, you can likely hold off for a couple of months and then step in line to get the shot.

Experts are still learning about COVID-19. The information in this article is what was known or available as of publishing this story, but guidance can change as scientists and experts discover more about the virus.

We highly encourage that you please check the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for the most updated recommendations.

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