Can I get the vaccine if I already had COVID?

Yes, you can get the vaccine if you have already had COVID. When someone gets sick with COVID and develops antibodies, we call that natural immunity. The extent of natural immunity after COVID is not yet fully known, but might be short. Studies of seasonal coronavirus infections (i.e. the common cold) have shown that natural immunity is relatively short-lived, with reinfections recurring as soon as 12 months after the initial infection. 

Additionally, natural immunity after any infection varies a lot from person to person. Some individuals have a robust antibody response, while others do not. Therefore, many doctors are expecting that at least some people who have had COVID, especially those with a weak immune memory, might be susceptible to reinfection

Vaccine immune responses are more controlled and come with fewer risks than getting natural immunity from contracting the disease. In people who had received two injections of the Moderna COVID vaccine compared to individuals who were recovering from COVID, vaccine antibodies appeared to stick around longer. 

So even if you’ve already had COVID, it’s a good idea to get the vaccine once it becomes available.

Last update: December 19, 2020, 15:43 pm ET

Science review: ERS, JAB