(NEXSTAR) – As a new variant of COVID-19 starts to spread around the world, the Centers for Disease Control is encouraging all adults to get a booster shot as soon as they’re eligible. But what if you’ve just boosted your immunity the hard way by recovering from the virus?
The answer comes down to the difference between natural immunity and immunity garnered from the coronavirus vaccines.
“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. Immunity from the vaccine is more reliable and may last longer than protection someone has after recovering from the virus, studies show.
For those reasons, the CDC still recommends eligible people get a booster shot, even if they’ve had a breakthrough case of COVID-19.
First, you should wait to recover from all your COVID-19 symptoms, says the CDC. If you’ve tested positive for the virus, you should also wait until you meet all the requirements to end your quarantine before you seek out a booster. That means you can get a booster shot as soon as 10 days after your COVID symptoms started.
“People who have been infected should wait until after they have gotten better – and they may want to wait even longer after that – but it is suggested that they get a booster, if they are recommended for it,” said Dowdy.
The CDC offers two reasons you should wait longer before getting a booster:
- If you were treated with monoclonal antibodies or convalescent plasma, you should wait 90 days before getting a booster.
- If you were diagnosed with multisystem inflammatory syndrome (MIS-A or MIS-C), you should also wait 90 days and talk to your doctor.
Whether or not you’ve suffered a breakthrough case, you also need to wait until you’re eligible to receive the booster before getting the shot. Adults who received Pfizer or Moderna for their first round of vaccination are eligible six months after their second shot. Adults who received Johnson & Johnson are eligible two months after their first shot.