If you’re one of the many, many people who has come down with the virus in recent weeks, do you really need to rush out to get another immunity boost?
At the very least, you should wait until you’re feeling better and out of your isolation period before you get a vaccine dose, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advises.
But you may want to consider waiting even longer, the CDC acknowledges. Because you get some natural immunity from a recent infection, waiting up to 3 months to get a booster shot could “extend that protection out by delaying,” explained Dr. Jeffrey Duchin, health officer in Seattle and King County, in a recent briefing on updated vaccinations.
“Everyone needs to look at their own personal situation,” said Duchin. Someone who works in a high-risk environment, or who lives with immunocompromised people, or otherwise would like maximum protection soonest can opt to get a booster just a few weeks after a recent COVID infection. Someone who would prefer to boost their immunity before the busy holiday season might want to wait a couple months.
While the effectiveness of the vaccine wanes over time, it’s still the best way to protect against severe illness, hospitalization and death, doctors agree.
“Immunity after a breakthrough case is imperfect,” David Dowdy, an epidemiologist at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, said in an interview with Verywell Health last year. Immunity from the vaccine is more reliable and may last longer than protection someone has after recovering from the virus, studies show.
The booster shot approved this month is an updated formula designed to target the omicron variant of the virus, which is still far and above the dominant strain circulating in the U.S. It is recommended for everyone 6 months and older.