If you are one of the over 17 million Americans who have already COVID-19 you likely have questions about whether you need to get the vaccine. The answer is YES, but when you should get vaccinated depends on various factors.
According to health experts, if someone has recovered from the virus, they will likely have antibodies that last for a few months, but it is believed someone's level of immunity against the virus lowers the further out they are from the time they initially battled the virus. This is thought to be particularly important for people who only were asymptomatic or had a mild case of coronavirus. As antibody levels drop, someone will become more susceptible to the virus.
Experts note more research is needed to determine just how long someone who already had COVID will likely remain immune and they explain those already infected can probably hold off on getting the vaccine for a few months, but they stress, if someone had the virus several months ago, they should plan on getting the vaccine as soon as it becomes available to them.
Infectious disease expert Dr. Onyema Ogbuagu from Yale Medicine tells HuffPo, “It’s pretty certain, although you can never say confidently, that in the first few months after infection ... the risk of reinfection is really low.” Dr. Ogbuagu says he would recommend getting the vaccine if someone had COVID 3 to 4 months ago -- or longer -- particularly if it was a mild case. He adds that even people with a severe case will want to get the vaccine at some point.
HuffPo also reports that experts believe immunity from the vaccine will be more robust than immunity from having the disease. (Find out about possible side effects of the COVID-19 vaccine)
As for safety, according to the initial limited research, those who previously had the virus and also got the vaccine were found to be just as safe as people who got the vaccine and did not previously have COVID. HuffPo also notes historically many people have safely been vaccinated for other diseases and viruses after already battling them, like the flu, polio or chickenpox, and shingles.
More research will continue, but currently, health experts believe people's best bet is to plan on getting vaccinated when the vaccine is available to you, and if someone has battled COVID to wait a few months until getting vaccinated.