Should I get vaccinated against COVID-19 if I have had the virus?
Yes. Regardless of whether there has been a previous infection, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says that people should plan to get vaccinated when it is their turn.
“It’s a pretty straightforward question,” said Dr. Amesh Adalja, infectious disease specialist at Johns Hopkins University. “Yes, you need to get vaccinated.”
Once you recover, your immune system should stop you from catching it again right away.
“Your immune system is able to identify the virus and protect itself,” said Saskia Popescu, an epidemiologist at George Mason University.
Scientists still don’t know exactly how long that immunity lasts or how strong it is, although recent research suggests that protection could last for several months.
It’s impossible to know how long a person can be immune, said Prathit Kulkarni, an infectious disease expert at Baylor College of Medicine. “There is no way to calculate that.”
Vaccines, by contrast, are designed to produce a more consistent and optimal immune response. And they should boost a patient’s pre-existing immunity to a certain infection, experts said.
“Since we are in this pandemic and we have no control over it, the safest approach is to vaccinate,” Kulkarni said. “Nothing is lost and it can benefit you.”
If you’ve been infected in the past three months, the CDC says you can delay the vaccine if you want others to go first while availability is limited.
“All things being equal, you want the unprotected person to go ahead,” Adalja said.