People who have had a Covid-19 infection must wait for three months before they take a coronavirus vaccine – whether the first or the second dose – the Union health ministry said on May 19, 2021. While doctors have been recommending to follow the necessary protocols, some people are looking to avail of the vaccine before the 3-month period after testing negative in an attempt to speed up the recovery process.
To understand better, we reached out to experts to know if taking the shot before the three-month gap will lead to faster recovery.
Dr Shweta Goswami, senior consultant IVF, Jaypee Hospital and Medical Director, Zeeva Fertility Noida, “Data again is scarce as to how long after the illness should one take the vaccine, but the current government recommendations are to defer till three months as by that time the antibodies and immunity that one has developed may begin to wane”.
Agreed Dr Shobha Gupta, medical director and IVF specialist, Mother’s Lap IVF Centre, New Delhi and said that three months is the ideal time period to take the jab after recovery. “The first dose of vaccine should be given three months after fully recovering from the disease. This holds the same for people who were hospitalised or were in-home quarantine while recovering from the infection.”
“I would advise all of you not to go by any rumours regarding the vaccination process. We all should go as per the government guidelines,” she added.
However, Dr Vipul Rustgi, consultant physician, Apollo Spectra Karol Bagh, Delhi said those suffering from long COVID can get that “much-needed relief after the jab”.
Long-Covid is when people continue to exhibit symptoms of Covid-19 for weeks or months after recovering from the virus.
“Various studies have confirmed that some people with lingering long-Covid symptoms such as cough, loss of smell and taste, gastrointestinal symptoms, depression, anxiety, and even breathlessness can get that much-needed relief after getting the jab. You will be surprised to know that the strong immune response created by the Covid-19 vaccine may help you get rid of your long covid symptoms in no time. This is so because the vaccine has antiviral and immune-modulating effects owing to which you will feel better. So, it is imperative for each and every one of you to get vaccinated once you are back on track after Covid infection. Do not skip the vaccination as it is a vital step to help you keep safe. Thus, recovery from post-covid symptoms is possible after inoculation. However, the long-Covid symptoms will take time to fully vanish. Consult your doctor as soon as possible and don’t forget to schedule your vaccination,” said Dr Rustgi.
But Dr Rajeev Boudhankar, CEO-Bhatia Hospital Mumbai said that it depends on the treatment for COVID – 19. “If you are treated with monoclonal antibodies or convalescent plasma, it is best to wait for 90 days before getting vaccinated. This avoids interference of the antibody therapy with vaccine-induced immune response,” he said.
According to him, since the “post-vaccination protection is still under study”, it is not possible to exactly specify when to get vaccinated post–COVID, as the infection itself acts like a vaccine, inducing antibodies.
CDC guidelines say that people should be offered vaccination regardless of their history of symptomatic or asymptomatic SARS-COV-2 infection. This includes people with prolonged post Covid–19 symptoms.
“Vaccination of people with known current SARS-COV-2 infection should be deferred until the person has recovered for the acute illness (if the person had symptoms). Presently, there is no recommended minimum interval between infection and vaccination, however, current evidence suggests that the risk of SARS-COV-2 re-infection is low in the months after initial infection but may increase with time due to waning immunity. Delaying vaccination to after 90 days of infection recognises the risk of re-infection and therefore, the benefit of vaccination, might increase with time following initial infection,” Dr Boudhankar told indianexpress.com.
However, Dr Goswami categorically pointed out how there is not enough evidence. “There is no evidence that the vaccine helps you recover quickly. The vaccine can’t protect you fully from the infection also; its main objective is to decrease the severity of illness in case we get infected with the virus,” she mentioned.