EL PASO, Texas (KVIA) — As COVID-19 vaccines become more accessible, U.S. health officials are fighting a new challenge: vaccine hesitancy. Individuals previously infected with COVID-19 might be among those weighing the possibility of getting a vaccine.
The CDC is encouraging those who have recovered from COVID-19 to get the COVID-19 vaccine. While health experts say natural infection can provide antibodies to the virus, the CDC notes it is not clear how long protection can last. The agency adds it is possible an individual could be infected more than once.
Dr. Edward Michelson, the chairman of the Department of Emergency Medicine for Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center El Paso, said individuals should wait 90 days after infection to receive a vaccine.
“The natural infection will leave a person with antibody levels that are pretty good,” he said. “It’s not necessary to boost those levels by getting a vaccine until 90 days. That 90 days could be 120 days. It's not a precise number, but it would probably be too soon to get your vaccine if you just got over COVID three, four weeks earlier.”
The CDC notes the 90-day wait is especially important for those who were treated with monoclonal antibodies or convalescent plasma.
Dr. Michelson said protection from the vaccine should last at least six months, if not a year.
“If you already have antibodies from having COVID, why start the six-month clock 30 days after you got over COVID?” Dr. Michelson said. “Why not wait the full 90? Because then the combination of 90 days, three months plus another six gives you good levels of antibodies for a longer period of time.”
Dr. Michelson said those previously infected will likely receive the same protection after one dose of a Pfizer or Moderna vaccine as someone never been infected will receive after two doses. For this reason, he said it could be most convenient for many previously infected to get the single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine. You can read the CDC’s safety guidelines on who should receive the drug here.