People who have tested positive for COVID-19 should still be vaccinated to protect against re-infection, according to public health officials and medical experts.
“People with COVID-19 who have symptoms should wait to be vaccinated until they have recovered from their illness and have met the criteria for discontinuing isolation; those without symptoms should also wait until they meet the criteria before getting vaccinated,” according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “This guidance also applies to people who get COVID-19 before getting their second dose of vaccine.”
Dr. Daniel Wilensky, a member of the Covid Advisory Group with Community Health Center Inc., has seen patients with COVID-19 ask when to get vaccinated and the benefit of receiving at least a first dose of an mRNA vaccine. An elderly couple who had received one dose tested positive for COVID-19 forcing them to wait before their second dose appointment. The symptoms were mild and neither got seriously ill.
“That first dose probably saved one of them from hospitalization,” Wilensky recently told the Record-Journal.
Because they still don’t know exactly how long the antibodies from having COVID-19 last in the body, most experts said those without serious illness may get vaccinated 10 days to three months after testing positive. The exception is people who have received monoclonal antibody treatments.
“If they have had COVID they should wait at least 10 days from their first positive test and symptoms must have improved as well, said Dr. Ulysses Wu, infectious disease specialist for Hartford HealthCare. “If they had antibody treatment, they have to wait 90 days.”
Doctors are finding that monoclonal antibody (mAb) treatment can reduce the amount of virus load in a patient’s system. Having a lower viral load means infected patients have milder symptoms thereby decreasing the likelihood of being hospitalized.
Getting vaccinated too soon after mAB treatment can interfere with the body’s immunity-building system, doctors said.
Wilensky sees many patients who have had COVID-19 and although they can wait up to three months, he encourages them to get vaccinated sooner. The different COVID mutations can also challenge the effectiveness of any temporary immunity.
“It’s mostly variants right now,” Wilensky said. “In the next few weeks everybody who wants it (vaccine) will get it. We shouldn’t be holding back because other people are in need. We are at that point.”
Wilensky believes we are in the middle of the fourth wave of the COVID-19 pandemic with 50 percent of the adult population receiving at least a first dose of vaccine and many getting their second shots in the past couple of weeks.
“That fourth wave is being blunted by the vaccine,” he said.