One of the most commonly asked questions regarding the SARS-CoV-2 vaccination is – is there a need for vaccines even after the acute infection with the virus? Why do we need the vaccine after getting the infection? Is it safe to get vaccinated after contracting the virus? How long should we wait before getting the vaccine after the infection? In this article, we explore if one should get vaccinated after the infection, how do we build immunity to the SARS-CoV-2 virus, and how long should we wait after the acute infection to get the vaccine.
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How do we Build Immunity to the SARS-CoV-2 Virus?
Our body has two levels when it comes to the immune system – innate and adaptive immunity. Innate immunity consists of cells that are designed to attack and kill the invading organism upon first contact. Adaptive immunity, on the other hand, takes time to develop upon first exposure but can form memory towards the invading organism, and thus subsequent invasion will result in a rapid and specific response to get rid of the invasion effectively. It is also the adaptive immunity that produces antibodies against the invading organisms and is often used to measure immunity against a specific organism.
After infection with SARS-CoV-2, the body produces specific antibodies towards the virus thus preventing reinfection of severe symptoms following first exposure. However, these antibodies produced can reduce in numbers as time passes, and could eventually disappear from the system.
Can People with a History of SARS Cov 2 Infection Receive a Covid 19 Vaccine?
The general consensus is that people with a history of SARS-CoV-2 infection should proceed with the Covid 19 vaccine. There are various reasons behind this consensus. Firstly, there is unclear evidence on how long the antibodies built against the SARS-CoV-2 virus will last, therefore there is still a risk of contracting the infection for the second time. Some studies found that the immunity can last around six to eight months, but more evidence is needed for this claim. According to Houston Methodist, individuals who are unvaccinated have a doubled risk of reinfection with SAR-CoV-2 compared to individuals who are vaccinated after recovery from the illness.
Hybrid immunity is established in individuals who are infected with the virus and receive the vaccine soon after. It is found that this immunization provides superior levels of antibodies and might be able to protect the individual against other variants. Moreover, some studies even suggested that receiving the vaccine after the acute infection can reduce long covid symptoms.
How Long Should You Wait After The Infection To Get Vaccinated?
Many health guidelines state that vaccination can be delayed up to 4 months after the acute infection. This is because the body’s natural immunity after the infection is estimated to protect oneself for around 4 months or so. However, many specialists also recommend individuals get the vaccine as soon as the acute illness is over, or once one gets out of quarantine.
The exception to this recommendation lies in individuals who received SAR-CoV-2 monoclonal antibodies as treatment during acute illness. They will have to wait for 90 days before receiving the vaccine. Monoclonal antibodies are synthetic antibodies made in the laboratory, injected into our system in order to help fight the infection. The circulating antibodies might prevent the body from responding to the vaccine, thus vaccine has to be deferred if one has received monoclonal antibodies as treatment.
Am I Infectious After I Have Been Vaccinated?
Various vaccines have been found to be effective in reducing the spread of the SAR-CoV-2 virus. This is because vaccines prevent one from getting the infection, thus reducing the risk of virus transmission. No peer-reviewed studies have looked at the transmission rates between people who are infected with SAR-CoV-2 and people who received the vaccine, thus more studies should be done in the future looking at this.
In conclusion, it is safe to get the SAR-CoV-2 vaccine after an acute infection. Various healthcare platforms recommend getting it immediately after the acute infection, to get maximum protection against re-infection. If you have received monoclonal antibiotics as a part of your treatment for covid 19, do seek advice from your healthcare provider before getting the vaccine. Check out jenis vaksin covid 19 for more info.
- Stokel-Walker C. What do we know about covid vaccines and preventing transmission?. bmj. 2022 Feb 4;376.