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Vaccination After COVID-19 Infection – When And Why?

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Equal access to effective and safe vaccines is critical to ending the COVID-19 pandemic, so it is encouraging to see a number of vaccines being tested and developed. Countries across the globe are working continuously to develop, manufacture and commercialise effective vaccines. These vaccines are revolutionary tools, but for the foreseeable future, we must continue to wear masks, wash hands frequently, keep rooms well ventilated, avoid crowds and maintain social distance.

As more and more people have now been declared eligible for vaccination, the question of when and why to take a vaccine after recovering from a COVID 19 infection has grabbed a lot of attention. The need for vaccination after COVID-19 infection is an important issue to be addressed. The strength of immunity after COVID-19 is questionable, making vaccination efficacy a topic of interest among researchers. 

How do we develop antibodies after COVID-19?

After you get a COVID 19 infection, your body prepares to fight the infection. The white blood cells produce antibodies specific to the antigen – a protein presented by the infecting virus. In a person who was vaccinated previously, the immune system recognises the virus and quickly produces specific antibodies to control the further spread of the COVID-19 virus. In a person who has not been vaccinated previously, the body takes some time to develop an immune response to fight the infection.

You can think of antibodies as soldiers in your body’s defence system. Every antibody or soldier in our system has been trained to recognise a target antigen. 

Government studies have shown that after someone is infected with COVID-19, our body naturally develops a protective mechanism. After being infected with the COVID-19 virus, it may take two to three weeks to form enough antibodies to be detected in an antibody test, so it is important not to test too early. 

Antibodies against Covid-19 can be found in your body for several months following the recovery from COVID-19 or more. However, the strength of this natural immunity was found to be most effective only within eight months after being infected with COVID-19. And the effective range is 5 – 7 months in mild cases of COVID-19. The duration and extent of protection that you expect from these antibodies is still being studied.

Why do I need a COVID-19 vaccine?

There are many types of COVID 19 vaccines that are being developed. Vaccines may carry a virus  as dead, attenuated or inactive parts of antigens that can trigger an immune response in the body. The vaccine does not contain an active virus, but it contains some part of the viral protein or genetic material that may be sufficient to trigger an immune response against COVID-19 infection. The vaccine in itself is incapable of causing infection or disease Instead, it makes the immune system as responsive as it did when it first responded to a real COVID-19 virus.

So, it allows your body to form its defence against the virus without actually having to fight it. One to two weeks after vaccination, your body will produce the antibodies needed to fight the virus. Most vaccines are effective above 80% and their immunity lasts for a long period of time. The good news is that your immune cells get trained to fight the infection after vaccination and save this memory. In case of future encounters with COVID-19 infection, the white blood cells multiply rapidly and efficiently produce the specific antibodies based on their memory of the vaccine and stop the spread of infection. 

Do I still get vaccinated after testing positive for COVID-19?

Although we have gathered enough information and our country is moving forward with the vaccination campaign, the question of COVID-19 vaccination eligibility remains in public.

The COVID-19 vaccine is safe for most people over the age of 18, including those with any pre-existing disease, including autoimmune diseases, including hypertension, diabetes, asthma, lung disease, liver disease, renal (kidney) diseases and chronic diseases. Make sure to mention your doctor if your immune system is weak, pregnant or breastfeeding or have had a severe episode of allergy in the past.  

Although previous COVID infection leads to the production of antibodies, the vaccine will act as a booster for your body to fight the virus. Whether or not you have been infected with COVID-19 before, the second dose of vaccine is considered very important to achieve good protection against getting severely sick with COVID-19. It has been seen that the antibody level after vaccination is much higher than the antibody level after natural infection. Therefore, vaccination after recovering from COVID-19 is essential for all adults. 

Conclusion

The World Health Organization says that individuals infected with COVID 19 definitely need vaccination. They should be vaccinated 3 months after recovering from COVID-19. Even if you have been infected, ask your doctor for clearance and take a full course of the vaccine, i.e. both the shots. The vaccine will act as a booster to your immune response.

When should I take the vaccine after testing positive for  COVID-19?

Although the World Health Organization recommends waiting at least six months after contracting COVID-19 infection, Indian doctors believe that a waiting period of 2 – 3 months is sufficient. If you have contracted the virus between the two doses, you can defer your second dose for about 2 to 3 months or as advised by your doctor. Whether you have been infected with COVID-19 or not, vaccination is a must.  

Disclaimer: The information included at this site is for educational purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for medical treatment by a healthcare professional. Because of unique individual needs, the reader should consult their physician to determine the appropriateness of the information for the reader’s situation.

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