Should you get the COVID-19 vaccine if you've already had the virus? Health experts weigh in

This comes as Phase 1B of distribution has started, or is being planned to start, in Cass County.

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A woman gets her first dose of the COVID vaccine at Sanford Health Thursday, Jan. 14. Grace O'Neil / WDAY

FARGO — As hospitals start their moves to the next phase of the vaccine rollout, many community members are still waiting their turn, including some who have gotten the virus and are eligible for the shot.

Dr. Richard Vetter, the chief medical officer of Essentia Health in Fargo, said the best thing to do if you want to take the vaccine, but are sick with COVID-19 or any other disease, is wait until you've fully recovered.

"As long as you're asymptomatic, we would still proceed with vaccination, because the recommendation is that we try to get as close to 100% of the population vaccinated (as we can)," he said.

Vetter also said if you've gotten another vaccine, like for the flu or shingles, to wait for two weeks to get the COVID-19 vaccine.


A full recovery from the virus could mean a person has antibodies in their system to protect against future exposures, but some doctors, like Dr. Doug Griffin, the chief medical officer at Sanford Health, said they may not be enough to protect you.

"What we don't know about the antibodies is what level of antibodies can give you immunity and for how long they'll last," he said.

Even with that level of uncertainty, Griffin said, both doses of the vaccine would provide an extra line of help, especially if for those who had the virus.

"Some people have said their side effects (after getting the shot) were more severe, but many others have been no different," he said.

While most are still in line to get the jab in the arm, Vetter and other experts believe it'll be worth the wait, whether someone has caught the virus or not.

"When you do get a potential exposure in the future, your body has that natural ability to respond in a way to protect yourself," Vetter said.

Even though experts are encouraging getting the COVID-19 vaccine, Vetter said, the only people who shouldn't get it are those who have a history of allergic reactions to any kind of shot.


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Tanner Robinson is a producer for First News on WDAY-TV.
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