Why doctors encourage people who recovered from COVID-19 to get a vaccine

Difference between COVID antibodies from vaccines and antibodies from infections
Difference between COVID antibodies from vaccines and antibodies from infections

HOUSTONWhat’s the protection if you’ve had the virus? Do you really need the vaccine?

Yes, you should be vaccinated regardless of whether you already had COVID-19, according to the CDC. That’s because experts do not yet know how long you are protected from getting sick again after recovering from COVID-19. Even if you have already recovered from COVID-19, it is possible—although rare—that you could be infected with the virus that causes COVID-19 again. Learn more about why getting vaccinated is a safer way to build protection than getting infected.

“We know that a small number of people can get COVID a second time, but even without getting it for a second time, it’s important to make sure that all aspects of your immune system are peaked and ready to go in case you see COVID-19 again, and the vaccine will help you do that,” Dr. Kristin Englund from Cleveland Clinic said.

If you were treated for COVID-19 with monoclonal antibodies or convalescent plasma, you should wait 90 days before getting a COVID-19 vaccine. Talk to your doctor if you are unsure what treatments you received or if you have more questions about getting a COVID-19 vaccine.

“If you are looking for another reason to get the vaccine, just look around you and see all of the loved ones around you. And even those who can’t get the vaccine or haven’t gotten the vaccine, haven’t been eligible, like children, it’s really important that you’re not only protecting yourself but them as well,” she said.

Dr. Englund says aside from providing protection from the virus, they’ve also learned the vaccine can help reduce symptoms for some COVID-19 long-haulers.

With antibodies after an infection, can you go without a mask?

Right now, the CDC only recommends fully vaccinated people to gather without masks. Since there’s more unknown about the immunity from an infection than the vaccine, the experts only support vaccine coverage at this time.

Ask your doctor if you’re unsure about the situations when wearing a mask is right for you.

What happens if you completely miss your second dose?

You have up to six weeks to get the second dose. So, chances are, you can easily find a time to reschedule your second dose even if it’s after the three to four weeks of recommended time to get he second shot. However, if you’ve gone more than six weeks, consult your doctor about whether you need to start again with the first dose of the vaccine.

Isn’t one dose as effective as the annual flu shot?

According to Dr. Mouzoon from Kelsey-Seybold Clinic, “The vaccine is about 50-80 percent effective with one dose, depending upon multiple factors, the most important of which is what variants are circulating. The second dose is necessary to ensure protection from hospitalization and death, unless you get the J&J vaccine, which only requires one dose.”

So, do you still need a second dose?

While the first dose is protective, the second dose is needed to maximize the efficacy of the vaccine. The vaccine can be almost 95% protective against COVID-19 if you have both doses.

Dr. Annamaria Macaluso Davidson from Memorial Hermann Medical Group said the second dose is also important when protecting yourself against variants.

“[The vaccine] is also strong against, you know, a variety of variants,” she said. “So, where you may have had a natural infection and you have specific antibodies towards one.”