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When should you get a booster shot after that COVID-19 infection?

COVID-19 vaccine
Ryan Caron King
Connecticut Public
A health care worker administers a COVID-19 shot.

The emergence of a COVID-19 booster vaccine has prompted many questions from would-be recipients. One might be when it’s appropriate to get a shot after a COVID-19 infection.

The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s general guidance on boosters depends on which vaccine you received in a previous series. For Pfizer or Moderna recipients, the CDC recommends getting a booster no earlier than six months past their second dose. They should only get it, though, if they’re at a high risk of developing a serious COVID-19 infection. And for people who got Johnson & Johnson’s one-shot vaccine, the CDC recommends a booster if they’re 18 and older and at least two months past their initial dose.

But what if you just got over COVID-19?

“We have been pushing it out past 90 days because people may not want to get the shot so close to their illness,” said Dr. Ulysses Wu, chief epidemiologist and system director for infectious diseases at Hartford HealthCare.

That’s because Wu says most people who’ve had COVID-19 have enough antibodies to stave off infection for at least 90 days.

Both Wu and Dr. Syed Hussain, Trinity Health of New England’s chief clinical officer, say people can get boosters even earlier, at least 10 days out from recovery.

“We have numerous studies that have consistently shown vaccination of individuals who are previously infected enhances their immune response and protects them,” Hussain said.

If you’re not vaccinated, Hussain says, you shouldn’t rely on so-called “natural immunity.”

“There’s data out there that suggests that someone who’s had previous COVID-19 infection and has not been vaccinated is at a higher risk of getting reinfected,” Hussain said.

According to Hussain, there’s one group of people that should definitely wait 90 days: those who received a monoclonal antibody treatment or convalescent plasma.

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