My Patients Ask: If I had COVID-19 do I still need to get vaccinated with a COVID-19 vaccine?

Yes. Due to the severe health risks associated with COVID-19 and the fact that re-infection with COVID-19 is possible, a COVID vaccine should be offered to you regardless of whether you already had COVID-19 infection. At this time, experts do not know how long someone is protected from getting sick again after recovering from COVID-19.

The immunity someone gains from having an infection, called natural immunity, varies from person to person. Some early evidence suggests natural immunity may not last very long.

We will not know how long immunity produced by a vaccination lasts until we have more data on how well the vaccines work.

Both natural immunity and vaccine-induced immunity are important aspects of COVID-19 that experts are trying to learn more about, and CDC will keep us informed as new evidence becomes available.


This blog was accurate as of the day of posting. However, as the COVID-19 pandemic rapidly evolves and the scientific community’s understanding of the novel coronavirus and the COVID vaccine develops, the information above may have changed since it was last updated. While I aim to keep all of my blogs on COVID and the COVID vaccine up to date, please visit online resources provided by the CDC, WHO, and your local public health department to stay informed on the latest news.

© Copyright WLL, INC. 2021. This blog provides a wide variety of general health information only and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment from your regular physician. If you are concerned about your health, take what you learn from this blog and meet with your personal doctor to discuss your concerns.

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2 Responses to My Patients Ask: If I had COVID-19 do I still need to get vaccinated with a COVID-19 vaccine?

  1. Tom Rusk says:

    Dr. Walt:
    Do you have any concerns about the long term side effects of the vaccine? There really isn’t any “benchmark” because it’s so new. I have some concerns.
    Tom in SC

  2. Tom,

    None seen so far. In the entire history of vaccines, even rare long-term side effects start showing up in the first year. So far, COVID mRNA vaccines have seen very, very few serious adverse effects. The serious allergic reactions you’ve been hearing about are occurring at a rate of 3-5 per million. Nevertheless, rare side effects and delayed reactions might not be evident until the vaccine is administered to millions of people. Therefore, the federal government established the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS), a surveillance system to monitor adverse events following vaccination. In addition, large-linked databases containing information on millions of individuals, such as the Vaccine Safety Datalink (VSD), have been created to study rare vaccine adverse events.

    Just this week, VAERS reported 36 cases of low blood platelets (with one death) in people who received the COVID vaccine. At this time, it is not known whether this blood disorder is related to the COVID vaccines. All of these cases involved either the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna COVID vaccine, the only two authorized so far for emergency use in the United States. But the reporting system shows only problems described by health care professionals or patients after vaccination and does not indicate whether the shots actually caused the problems.

    So, Tom, so far so good. I, and most public health experts, are reasonably optimistic that it’s highly unlikely that severe, long-term side effects are likely. But, time will tell.

    What we do know is that COVID is not a good thing to get. (a) you can die from it, (b) even if you only have a minor or moderate case, you have the risk of becoming a “long-hauler” with one or more chronic symptoms of COVID, or (c) you could spread COVID (even asymptomatically) to loved ones or friends who could then have (a) or (b).

    Barb and I have had both Moderna shots and our antibody levels are reactive (we are, at least for now, immune). And, we are grateful.

    Dr. Walt

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