Tips to Live By

How Soon Can You Get Vaccinated After Recovering From COVID-19?

Jan. 5, 2022 - Katie McCallum

If you're unvaccinated and recovering from COVID-19 — whether the case is mild or more severe — you might be wondering how soon before you can take the necessary step to help prevent reinfection: getting vaccinated.

This risk — yes, reinfection is possible — is not insignificant. The data show that unvaccinated adults are twice as likely to get COVID-19 a second time than those who get vaccinated after recovering.

"Anyone who can get vaccinated, regardless of whether or not they've had COVID-19, should do so," says Dr. Robert Phillips, executive vice president and chief physician executive at Houston Methodist. "At this point, there are just too many unknowns regarding how durable and reliable natural immunity is to feel confident about the protection it may offer."

Vaccine-induced immunity offers incredibly effective protection against severe illness from COVID-19 — even against the more infectious omicron variant.

And COVID boosters provide even more protection. This means anyone who is eligible should consider getting their booster as soon as possible. (Related: How Effective Is the Updated Booster Against Omicron? & 5 More Questions, Answered)

So if you have COVID-19 and are ready to get vaccinated or are wondering when you can get your booster, here's what you need to know:

How soon can you get vaccinated after recovering from COVID-19?

"After testing positive for COVID-19, you will need to postpone starting your primary vaccine series until your symptoms have resolved and you've met the criteria for discontinuing isolation," says Dr. Phillips.

The criteria for ending isolation varies from person to person, so be sure you understand what your isolation timeline needs to look like.

"Someone with an asymptomatic COVID-19 case can get vaccinated as soon as their isolation ends. You don't need a negative viral test before vaccination," says Dr. Phillips. 

How soon can you get a COVID booster after having COVID-19?

If you're both age-eligible and due for a booster, the CDC states that people recently infected with COVID-19 may wait at least three months post-infection before being vaccinated with the omicron booster. However, individual factors such as risk of severe COVID-19 disease or community outbreaks should be taken into account when determining timing of booster vaccination after infection.

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