By Katherine Baumgarten, MD, Ochsner Health System
If you have already had and recovered from COVID-19, you may be wondering: Do I need a to worry about getting the vaccine if I have already had COVID-19?
The answer is yes. If you have already had COVID-19 and recovered, you should still get vaccinated. Even if you have already recovered from COVID-19, while rare, it is possible that you could be infected with the virus that causes COVID-19 again. Additionally, there is not enough information currently available to say how long after infection someone is protected from getting COVID-19 again. Studies have shown that vaccination provides a strong boost in protection in people who have recovered from COVID-19.
Plus, with the rise of COVID-19 variants, like the Delta variant, it is more important than ever to get vaccinated. The Delta variant is a strain of the coronavirus that developed from mutations of the virus. It is known to be more contagious than previous variants and causes more severe illness. There is also increased risk for hospitalization in those infected, primarily in unvaccinated people.
Studies demonstrate the vaccines provide protection against new variants of the virus, including the Delta variant. As variants of COVID-19 continue to emerge in our communities, it has never been more important for people to get vaccinated, not only to stop the spread of current strains, but to also help prevent more mutations and new strains from developing. The serious risks of COVID-19 – even for young, healthy people – outweigh the risks of any possible serious side effects from the vaccine.
You may also be wondering if you need to be COVID-free before receiving the vaccine. If you are COVID-19 positive, then it is recommended that you follow the CDC guidelines and isolate for 10 days to limit exposure to others. Once you are out of isolation, you may receive the vaccine.
When you are fully vaccinated, the CDC recommends wearing a mask indoors in public if you are in an area of substantial or high transmission to maximize protection from the Delta variant. Wearing a mask is very important even for those that are vaccinated if you have a weakened immune system or if, because of your age or an underlying medical condition, you are at increased risk for severe disease, or if someone in your household has a weakened immune system, is at increased risk for severe disease, or is unvaccinated.
Until we reach herd immunity and most people in the United States have been vaccinated, we will need to continue to practice social distancing, handwashing and wearing masks. These are the best ways to reduce your chance of being exposed to or spreading the virus until we can end this pandemic.
For more information, visit www.ochsner.org/vaccine or call the COVID-19 hotline at 1-844-888-2772.
The information in this post is accurate at the time of publication (July 30, 2021). However, as the situation surrounding COVID-19 continues to change, it’s possible that information has changed since being published. While Ochsner Health is trying to keep our posts as up-to-date as possible, we also encourage readers to stay informed on news and recommendations by using the CDC website.