It is a well-known fact that COVID-19 vaccines provide the best protection against developing severe disease and death. However, in order for the vaccine to work optimally, the timing thereof is crucial. And although some believe there is no time like the present, there are certain factors to consider, especially for those who have recently recovered from a COVID-19 infection or are experiencing flu-like symptoms.
If you have suffered a mild COVID-19 infection, it is recommended to wait for at least 30-days from the date of recovery, before rolling up your sleeve. You might wonder when exactly you have recovered from the disease and this is where the distinction between de-isolation and recovery is important. It is safe to de-isolate once you have completed the 10-day isolation period, without the onset of new symptoms and have been fever free for at least 24 hours. Once de-isolated it is common for patients to continue to have symptoms beyond the 10-days and full recovery may take several weeks (especially for symptoms that include fatigue, cough, and loss of sense or taste).
On the other hand, those who have been hospitalised, received oxygen or received treatment through monoclonal antibodies or convalescent plasma, are encouraged to wait 90-days post recovery as their body needs longer to recover from their severe disease to be ready to mount new immune responses.
It is encouraging to note that there is good evidence suggesting that those who have antibodies as a result of a SARS-CoV-2 infection will develop a stronger immune response to the disease post vaccination. Interestingly enough, evidence has also shown that those who were asymptomatic or experienced mild symptoms may not develop a strong antibody response to natural SARS-CoV-2 infection. Therefore vaccination is a way to strengthen the immune response and further reduce the chances of contracting COVID-19 again.
Those who were identified as close contacts of a person who tested positive, can go for the vaccine provided they have not presented any symptoms and completed their 10-day quarantine. And if you have booked your vaccination appointment, but are experiencing flu like symptoms, it is best to rather reschedule and wait until you feel better to elicit the best possible immune response.
Once vaccinated, your immune system can take up to 14-days to develop a strong immune response, as is the case with the single dose Johnson and Johnson vaccine. With the Pfizer vaccine there is some protection two weeks after the first dose, but the best protection is achieved by 14-days after the second dose, when a person is regarded fully vaccinated.
If you experience mild side effects following the first dose, you should get the second vaccination. However, if you experience a severe allergic reaction to the first dose, then it’s recommended to discuss your options with your healthcare provider in relation to the second dose.
For more COVID-19 vaccine information, visit https://www.nicd.ac.za/what-you-need-to-know-about-the-covid-19-vaccine/