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Do I still need the COVID-19 vaccine if I've already recovered from the virus?

Last Updated May 20, 2021 at 5:55 am PDT

Illustration of vaccine against coronavirus COVID-19. Photo by Robin Utrecht/ABACAPRESS.COM

Even if you've had COVID-19, most health authorities worldwide recommend you still be immunized with a COVID-19 vaccine

Test-positive patient should get vaccinated only after they've fully recovered and are no longer infectious

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Justin is wondering if someone who has already recovered from COVID-19 even still needs to get vaccinated against it.

Loida has a supplementary question: when can I get the vaccine after testing positive for COVID-19?


The guidance from the BC Centre for Disease Control is the same as most other health authorities worldwide: even if you’ve had COVID-19, you should still be immunized with a COVID-19 vaccine.

While those who recover from the virus that causes COVID-19 will develop some natural immunity, it tends to impact people differently, and the same is likely true of their immune response.

According to the US CDC, while reinfection with the virus is uncommon in the months after initial infection, that risk may increase with time. With vaccines, a certain level of immunity is guaranteed.

A growing body of research also suggests a COVID-19 vaccine dose may turbocharge the antibodies of those who have already had the virus.

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As for when a test-positive patient should get vaccinated, the typical guidance of “as soon as you’re eligible” carries one major caveat: make sure you’re fully recovered, and no longer infectious before getting in line.

Typically, that means at least 10 days after you first noticed symptoms, though you may be advised to isolate for longer.

In the case of vaccine shortages, the federal government has said those with natural immunity may be told to delay their vaccination appointment to make room for those who are more susceptible to infection. Though with millions of doses arriving in Canada each week, that possibility may be unlikely.

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