How long should I wait to get the COVID-19 vaccine after having the virus?

Coronavirus Updates

SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4) — For most people, getting the COVID-19 vaccine as soon as possible is a priority.

But those who have contracted the virus may wonder if, with their window of immunity, getting the vaccine right away is best.

According to Jenny Johnson, Public Information Officer with the Utah Department of Health, people who have had COVID-19 can safely be vaccinated.

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The only “rule” about being vaccinated after being infected with the virus, she says, is that people must have completed the quarantine period and be symptom-free.

“There is no reason why someone should not get the vaccine after being infected,” Johnson says.

However, people with ongoing COVID-19 symptoms, or long haulers, should consult their physician before getting vaccinated, she adds.

Though people who have had COVID-19 can and should be vaccinated, they may consider waiting depending on vaccine availability. This is because we know that there is a 90- day window of immunity after natural infection from the virus, Johnson explains.

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The CDC says that there is evidence that the chance of reinfection is low in the months after infection with COVID-19, but the risk of infection grows as the time from initial infection passes.

Therefore, “while vaccine supply remains limited, persons with recent documented acute SARS-CoV-2 infection may choose to temporarily delay vaccination, if desired, recognizing that the risk of reinfection, and therefore the need for vaccination, may increase with time following initial infection,” CDC’s website states.

Especially in places where the number of vaccines is low, those with this natural immunity may want to save the vaccines for those who do not have immunity.

In fact, Utah Governor Spencer Cox brought this up in an executive order in early January. He announced that anyone who has had COVID-19 in the last 90 days should not get vaccinated at this time due to a low chance of reinfection. 

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“If you’ve had a positive COVID-19 test in the past 90 days, you should not receive a vaccine… while we don’t know how long immunity to the virus lasts after receiving it, we have enough data to show that reinfection is very, very, very rare… if we want to achieve herd immunity, we shouldn’t waste vaccines on people who’ve had the virus already and absolutely have some very strong immunity at least over the first 90 days…,” Gov. Cox shares.

Those who have gone 90 days since infection should then be vaccinated, Johnson says.

Learn more about Utah’s COVID-19 distribution and stay up to date with the latest from the state.

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