1. If you’ve tested positive for COVID-19, wait until you are no longer infectious to get the vaccine. The CDC says most people do not have active COVID-19 infection after 10 days, so you should wait at least 10 days from the onset of illness to receive your vaccine. If you tested positive but didn’t show any symptoms, you should wait at least 10 days from the date of the positive test. There is no need to wait longer than that.
While there is no known danger in receiving the vaccine too early after having COVID-19, getting a vaccine while you are infectious may make the vaccine less effective because your immune system might be suppressed by COVID-19, Dr. Goldberg says. Some COVID-19 symptoms — such as loss of senses of smell and taste, fatigue, or body aches — may last longer than 10 days, but waiting 10 days until you are no longer infectious is what’s important.
2. If you had COVID-19 and were treated with monoclonal antibodies or convalescent plasma, wait at least 90 days before getting a COVID-19 vaccine. A number of patients have received convalescent plasma, which is blood from recovered COVID-19 patients; it is authorized for hospitalized patients. Another treatment, monoclonal antibodies, aims to prevent high-risk COVID-19 patients from having to be hospitalized. Monoclonal antibodies are given as an intravenous infusion to patients who have mild to moderate symptoms of COVID-19 and are at high risk of their illness becoming severe. This includes people 65 and older and those who are obese or have medical conditions such as diabetes, obesity, or kidney disease.
All the vaccines are based upon exposing a person to the spike protein, which is found on the surface of the virus that causes COVID-19. This exposure is what stimulates an immune response. Monoclonal antibodies may stay in your system for up to 90 days, and they might neutralize the spike protein in the vaccine and prevent the immune response from occurring, Dr. Goldberg explains.
3. It doesn’t make a difference which vaccine you receive. The recommendation for people who have recently recovered from COVID-19, as for all other situations, is to take whichever vaccine is available to you. If you are offered the two-dose Moderna or Pfizer vaccine, make sure you get both doses. The second dose seems to be particularly beneficial in protecting against the variants.
“It’s important to get vaccinated if you’ve had COVID-19, and to get it at the right time so it’s as effective as possible,” says Dr. Goldberg. “You’ll protect yourself, your family, and your friends, and help keep us on course for ending this pandemic.”