January 27, 2021

Should I Get the Vaccine if I’ve Already Had COVID-19 — and Would My Side Effects Be Worse?

The short answer from a pulmonary and critical care specialist

Covid Vaccine

Q: If I’ve already had COVID-19, do I need to get vaccinated? If so, why, and what should I expect?

A: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that people go ahead and get the vaccine when it’s their turn, even if they’ve already had COVID-19.

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If you’ve had COVID-19, you likely developed some amount of natural immunity to it once you recovered. But we don’t yet have a good understanding of how long that natural immunity might last. We think the vaccine can boost your protection without causing any harm.

However, if you were treated with monoclonal antibodies or convalescent plasma when you had COVID-19, it’s recommended that you wait 90 days before getting vaccinated. This recommendation also applies if you got sick and received these treatments while waiting for your second dose of vaccine.

There’s currently no evidence that having had COVID-19 would make you more or less likely to experience side effects from the vaccine. Some people have mild arm soreness, fatigue, muscle aches, headache or fever, especially after the second dose.

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It’s important to remember that you should still continue to wear your mask and take other precautions after you get the vaccine. Even after your second shot, you won’t be 100% immune from the possibility of getting or spreading COVID-19 to someone else. So, until more of the population can get vaccinated, we should all do our best to protect ourselves and those around us.

– Pulmonary and critical care specialist Neal Chaisson, MD

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