Booster doses increase your protection against the Omicron variant. Experts weigh in on how soon you can get one after getting COVID-19. Key TakeawaysPeople with COVID-19 can get their booster shot when their isolation period ends.Booster doses increase your protection against the Omicron variant.It’s important to get the booster dose even after having COVID-19 because natural
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), about 38.7% of fully vaccinated Americans have now gotten either their COVID-19 booster or third vaccine dose. Although the current vaccines remain effective against the Omicron variant, that protection wanes over time, emphasizing the need for fully vaccinated individuals to get their booster shots.
If it has been five months since you completed your primary vaccination series with the two-dose mRNA vaccines or two months after you received your single-shot Jonhson & Johnson vaccine, you can already receive your booster dose.
However, if you recently got COVID-19, you need to wait a bit before getting your booster shot. Even if you were previously infected, experts recommend getting a booster shot to maximize your protection against the virus.
If you have COVID-19, you can get a booster shot as soon as your isolation period is over.
People with COVID-19—both symptomatic and asymptomatic individuals—should wait until after they have recovered from their illness and have met the criteria for discontinuing isolation before getting vaccinated with the booster dose, William Moss, MD, executive director of the International Vaccine Access Center at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, told Verywell.
Symptomatic individuals can end their isolation after five full days, given that their symptoms are improving and they've had no fever for 24 hours without the use of fever-reducing medications. For asymptomatic people, isolation ends at least five full days after their positive COVID-19 test.
Those who were severely ill with COVID-19 must isolate for at least 10 days. It's important to consult your primary care provider before ending your isolation period and getting your booster shot.
Moreover, if you were hospitalized and treated with monoclonal antibodies or convalescent plasma, you can’t get a booster shot right away. You need to wait 90 days to ensure that the vaccine is effective.
“The reason to wait 90 days before getting a booster dose if you were treated with monoclonal antibodies or convalescent plasma is because these treatments may interfere with your immune response to the vaccine,” Moss said. “These treatments do not make the vaccine less safe, but could make the vaccine less effective. After 90 days, these treatments should no longer interfere with the vaccine response.”
If you have COVID-19, you can get the booster shot after your isolation period is over, as long as you meet all the criteria for ending isolation. However, if you were severely ill, you may need to wait longer than the minimum of five days.
According to the CDC, your protection against COVID-19 may decrease over time due to the virus’ mutations.
“Two doses of a COVID-19 vaccine are less effective in preventing infection with Omicron than earlier variants, and booster doses partially restore that protection,” Moss said. “Importantly, vaccines remain protective against hospitalization and death.”
Even if you had COVID-19 before, booster shots are still recommended because natural immunity isn't always reliable. Some studies have found that natural immunity can offer protection for as much as eight months. But other studies have found that unvaccinated people with prior infection were over 5 times more likely to test positive for COVID-19 than vaccinated people.
“It’s a common misconception that people who have had an infection from COVID now have robust immunity,” Natasha Bhuyan, MD, family physician at One Medical, told Verywell. “The reality is that people develop different levels of immunity following a COVID infection, and we don’t know the duration of how long immunity lasts after infection.”
Viruses also mutate by nature, so being infected with one strain doesn’t necessarily mean you have protection against other strains, she added.
Researchers from the Imperial College London COVID-19 Response Team found that Omicron was associated with more than a 5-fold higher risk of reinfection compared to Delta, which suggests that previous COVID-19 infection might not be enough to protect you.
“Studies show that getting a booster after an infection is quite protective, so even if you’ve had a prior COVID-19 infection, it’s still recommended to become fully vaccinated and boosted when eligible, which has been proven to significantly enhance your immunity and further reduce your risk of reinfection and/or more severe outcomes,” Bhuyan said. “We should not rely on that prior infection as indicative of lasting immunity.”
The best way to maximize your protection—even after getting COVID-19—is to get your booster shot once you are eligible.
“If you have any questions about the booster, its effectiveness against variants, or the best time to get it after being infected with COVID-19 infection, I encourage you to reach out to your family physician, who can help you make the best decision based on your medical needs,” Bhuyan added.
The information in this article is current as of the date listed, which means newer information may be available when you read this. For the most recent updates on COVID-19, visit our coronavirus news page.