Millions of Americans have received COVID-19 vaccines.
Distribution of the first two vaccines — one developed by Pfizer/BioNTech and the other by Moderna — began in the United States in December 2020. Distribution of the Johnson & Johnson/Janssen vaccine, approved in late February 2021, began in early March.
As of early March 2021, COVID-19 has caused tens of millions of infections and more than 500,000 deaths in the U.S.
The number of people eligible to receive the vaccine will increase as distribution continues. But should people get the vaccine if they currently have a COVID-19 infection or they already had COVID-19?
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Can I Get the Vaccine If I Have COVID-19?
If you currently have COVID-19, you should wait until you are no longer contagious and feel well enough to get a vaccine. This is true whether you’re symptomatic or asymptomatic.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), people with symptoms can end their isolation if they meet the following conditions:
- At least 10 days have passed since symptoms began
- Their fever has gone away for at least 24 hours without the use of fever-reducing drugs
- Other symptoms have improved
If you have COVID-19 without symptoms, you can end your isolation 10 days after your first positive test.
Once you meet the above criteria for ending isolation, you can get the COVID-19 vaccine. That’s true whether you get infected before your first dose of the vaccine, or if you get infected between the first and second doses of the Moderna or Pfizer vaccines. Talk to your doctor for more information.
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Can I Get the Vaccine If I Was Exposed to COVID-19?
If you have a known exposure to COVID-19, you should wait until you meet the criteria for ending quarantine before getting the vaccine. That typically means staying home for 14 days and monitoring yourself for symptoms.
Once you meet the conditions for ending quarantine and haven’t developed an infection, you can get the vaccine.
Can I Get Vaccinated If I Had COVID-19 Before?
There is no evidence that getting the vaccine will cause negative effects in people who have had COVID-19. If you previously had a COVID-19 infection and have since recovered, you can get the vaccine.
Do I Need to Get Vaccinated If I Had COVID-19 Before?
Although having COVID-19 and recovering will provide some amount of protection against reinfection, that protection isn’t permanent. You should still get the COVID-19 vaccine.
Recovering from COVID-19 does provide some short-term immunity. You may consider deferring your vaccination if you recently recovered from COVID-19. Talk to your doctor about that decision.
For more information about COVID-19 and vaccination, visit UPMC.com/COVIDVaccine.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Interim Clinical Considerations for Use of mRNA COVID-19 Vaccines Currently Authorized in the United States. Link
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Discontinuation of Isolation for Persons with COVID-19 Not in Healthcare Settings. Link
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, COVID-19: When to Quarantine. Link
Headquartered in Pittsburgh, UPMC is a world-renowned health care provider and insurer. We operate 40 hospitals and 700 doctors’ offices and outpatient centers, with locations in central and western Pennsylvania, Maryland, New York, and internationally. We employ 4,900 physicians, and we are leaders in clinical care, groundbreaking research, and treatment breakthroughs. U.S. News & World Report consistently ranks UPMC Presbyterian Shadyside as one of the nation’s best hospitals in many specialties and ranks UPMC Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh on its Honor Roll of America’s Best Children’s Hospitals.