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Do I need the vaccine if I have already had COVID-19?

COVID-19 infection will provide some degree of natural protection or immunity against reinfection with the COVID-19 virus. However, the duration or durability for this form of protection is unclear and it cannot be guaranteed. It is possible to become infected again after recovery, and COVID-19 can cause serious medical problems. Hence, people who have had COVID-19 should also receive the COVID-19 vaccination, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Furthermore, based on a recent study, unvaccinated persons who once have been infected are 2 times more likely to be reinfected with COVID-19 in comparison to those who are fully vaccinated after recovery.

Do I Need Vaccines If I Have Already Had COVID-19?
The answer is yes, you should receive a full COVID-19 vaccination, despite you have already had COVID-19 or you have never been infected. The reasons are:
●It is unknown how long you are protected from acquiring COVID-19 again after recovering from COVID-19.
●Even if you have already had COVID-19, vaccination can provide better protection against reinfection and prevent severe complications from COVID-19.
●The vaccines will not cause more side effects to you even if you have already had COVID-19 and it will still function as usual to stimulate and provide protection against COVID-19 for all recipients.

When Should I Receive COVID-19 Vaccination After I Recovered From COVID-19?
If you were treated with monoclonal antibodies or convalescent plasma during your acute phase of COVID-19, you should wait 90 days or 3 months before receiving a COVID-19 vaccination. Remember to consult your doctor if you are unsure about the treatments you have received or if you have further questions about receiving a COVID-19 vaccination. The monoclonal antibodies or convalescent plasma are immune products that have been obtained from a donor or lab, providing active immunity against COVID-19 virus, which usually have a lifespan of about 90 days. Hence, if vaccination was given at early stages, these immune products or antibodies will react immediately and may potentially destroy the contents of the vaccine. It will ultimately reduce the effectiveness of the vaccine and a complete immunity against COVID-19 for future may not be achieved.

Nonetheless, if you have never been treated with monoclonal antibodies or convalescent plasma throughout your quarantine period, you may receive a COVID-19 vaccination as early as possible. The baseline is that you should have met the criteria to discontinue isolation and should be fever-free for at least 24 hours without using any antipyretic medication. You may book an appointment at any vaccine center of your interest for COVID-19 vaccination soon after you have fulfilled these requirements, if you have already had COVID-19.

All COVID-19 vaccine manufacturer brands that are approved by the Ministry of Health (MOH) in Malaysia are suitable for every individual who has recovered from COVID-19. There is no scientific evidence showing that any of the brands are more effective or safer for individuals who have recovered from COVID-19. The probability of side effects also remains unchanged despite the brands and doses of vaccination.

Numerous experts are still trying to understand the duration of protection acquired from COVID-19 vaccination and of natural immunity from COVID-19 infection. As additional information is discovered, the CDC will keep the public updated and enlight everyone. For the meantime, receiving COVID-19 vaccination even if you have already had COVID-19 is still recommended. Prevention is better than cure, protecting yourself and others by being immunized is mandatory.