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Already had COVID-19? You should still get boosted

A syringe, a yellow question mark and a COVID-19 vaccine vial on a blue background.

You planned to get your COVID-19 booster shot, but then you got a breakthrough case of COVID-19. You might wonder: “Should I still get boosted now that I likely have some natural immunity?” The answer is yes. You should still get a booster shot—but perhaps not right away.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends booster shots for everyone who is eligible—including people who've already had COVID-19. But if you are still sick with COVID-19, you should wait until you have recovered and ended your isolation period. That's at least five days. After that, you can get your booster shot (or your initial series of COVID-19 shots, if you still haven't done so but would like to).

Here's why it's important to stay up-to-date on COVID-19 vaccines, even if you've had the virus:

  • It may help you avoid a second infection. You can get COVID-19 more than once. But staying up-to-date on your shots may make you less likely to get COVID-19 again, according to CDC. And the vaccines can help prevent serious illness if you do get sick.
  • Vaccination is the best protection. Compared to natural immunity, COVID-19 vaccines help your body make more antibodies and offer long-lasting protection, CDC reports.

A benefit to delaying your next shot?

If you've had COVID-19 and recovered, you might consider waiting for three months to get your next shot. Studies show that waiting that long after your positive COVID-19 test (or the start of your symptoms) may increase your immune response to the vaccine.

But you should take your personal risk into account before deciding whether to wait, CDC advises. For instance, it may not be a good idea to wait to get a booster if:

  • You have underlying health conditions.
  • The virus is surging in your community.

Do you have more questions about booster shots?

Your healthcare provider can help you understand the risks and benefits of COVID-19 boosters. And they can help you choose the timing that is best for you.

Reviewed 3/21/2023

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