Should someone who is currently sick wait to recover before getting the COVID-19 vaccine? Our Verify team gets to the bottom of it.
WASHINGTON — Editor’s note: This story was originally written in January 2021 and updated in April 2021. An updated version of this story from June 2021 can be found HERE.
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Should you wait to get the COVID-19 vaccine if you’re currently sick?
If you are currently sick with COVID-19, our experts say you should wait. If you are sick with something else, our experts are split. Here’s an explainer.
Verify viewer Lori Caplinger from Jessup, Maryland, had a question about getting the vaccine.
“Normally if you’re sick and want to get the flu vaccine you aren’t allowed to, you have to wait until you feel better, Caplinger said. “Is that the same with the Coronavirus and the COVID-19 vaccine?”
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Our Verify researchers looked at information from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), infectious diseases specialist Dr. Linda Nabha and Dr. Robert Amler, dean of the School of Health Sciences and Practice at the New York Medical College and a former chief medical officer at the CDC.
What if you’re currently sick with COVID-19?
If you’re sick with COVID-19, the CDC recommends holding off getting the jab until you get better; that’s for both the first and second dose.
“Vaccination of persons with known current SARS-CoV-2 infection should be deferred until the person has recovered from acute illness (if the person had symptoms) and until criteria have been met for them to discontinue isolation,” the CDC writes.
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“In most cases, you should wait at least until you’re better and not sick, a minimum of 10 days because of isolation,” Amler said. “If you’ve been treated, say with monoclonal antibodies, or other medications, you probably should wait longer, and for this, since you’re a special case now, you really should check with your doctor and talk it over.”
So we can Verify, if you’re sick with COVID-19 wait to get the vaccine.
What if you have the flu or a cold?
If you’re not sick with COVID, but you have the flu or a cold, or you’re just not feeling well, our experts are split.
Dr. Linda Nabha says it depends on the severity of your sickness.
“You’ve got a runny nose or a very mild cold, I think it should be fine for you to go ahead and get that COVID vaccine, but if you’re more sick…moderate to more severe illness, that’s something to certainly think about and discuss with your physician,” Nabha said. “You may be better off waiting until that sickness clears for you to get that COVID vaccine.”
One reason is so that if you begin to have symptoms like a fever or muscle aches, your doctor can differentiate between whether its from your pre-existing illness or a new symptom resulting from the vaccine.
Dr. Amler calls it “common sense” to wait.
“Let’s face it, you’re going to get some side effects from the vaccine, in all likelihood a sore arm, maybe a low-grade fever, maybe a bad headache,” Amler said. “I think logically you should wait until you’re better, and in general, with any vaccines, if you have a fever, you certainly should not get a vaccine at that time. Wait until the fever is gone, and you’re feeling better.”