Just Had COVID? Here’s When to Get the Booster

When to get a booster shot after having COVID

January 26, 2022

Clinical Contributors to this story:
Elliot Frank, M.D.

Updated: 11/2/22

Information regarding COVID-19 and vaccines are continually evolving, new details may be available since this content was developed. Please visit the CDC's website for the most up to date information.

If you’ve recently had COVID-19 but haven’t yet received your booster shot - should you run to your local vaccination site to get it?

Elliot Frank, M.D., an infectious disease specialist and medical director of patient safety and outcomes at Jersey Shore University Medical Center, shares some guidance on when is the best time to get your booster.

Why Should You Get A Booster Even If You’ve Had COVID

Emerging evidence shows that getting vaccinated or boosted after you recover from COVID-19 infection provides added protection to your immune system. One 2021 study showed that, for people who already had COVID-19, those who do not get vaccinated after their recovery are more than 2 times as likely to get COVID-19 again than those who get fully vaccinated after their recovery. Moreover, rates of hospitalization and death are lowest in those who are up to date with their vaccinations

A 2022 study showed that the Omicron variant of COVID-19 had a higher reinfection rate when compared to Alpha and Delta. Reinfection was 30 times more likely with the Omicron variant compared to Alpha, and 10 times more likely when compared to Delta. This suggests that there could be relatively low remaining levels of immunity from prior infections. The new boosters are bivalent, meaning they induce antibodies directed at the original strains of COVID-19 as well as newer variants, Omicron BA.4 and BA.5.

Finally, there is also some new data indicating that vaccination, before or after having COVID-19, reduces the risk of prolonged symptoms that have been reported in many patients following COVID-19 infection.

When You Should Get Your Shot

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the official guidance says you should wait until you’ve finished isolating and your symptoms have improved. This can mean that you can get vaccinated or boosted as soon as 10 days after your first day of symptoms or a positive viral test.

You do not have to wait 90 days to get your vaccine or booster, unless you received a monoclonal antibody treatment. However, for most people waiting two to three months is reasonable since repeat infections are unusual in that period and waiting may lead to a more robust antibody response and more long-lasting protection.

Who Should Get A Booster Shot?

Currently, adults and some younger individuals are eligible for a booster shot. When you’re eligible depends on what type of vaccine you got as your first dose and when:

COVID booster timeline

COVID booster timeline

Next Steps & Resources:

The material provided through HealthU is intended to be used as general information only and should not replace the advice of your physician. Always consult your physician for individual care.

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