Do you need two vaccine shots if you’ve already been infected with COVID?

Credit: The Ohio State University
Credit: The Ohio State University

Six recent studies suggest that people who’ve already come down with COVID-19 might not need to get a second vaccine dose. 

The federal government has not changed its recommendation for a second dose, but studies that look at the immune response show that while a first shot gives people who’ve recovered from COVID-19 a huge boost, the second shot makes little difference.

“I think that makes perfect sense,” said Dr. Paul Offit, director of the Vaccine Education Center at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.

For someone who had COVID-19, the first shot is like a COVID-19-naive person getting a booster – they even have the side effects of someone getting a second vaccine dose, he said.

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“You could argue reasonably that people who can prove they were infected – i.e., have antibodies to the virus – could reasonably just get one dose,” Offit said.

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There’s no danger in getting a second shot, for someone who’s had COVID-19, said Florian Krammer, who led one of the recent studies. But it may not provide any benefit for the time and stress it takes to make a reservation, get to and from a vaccination site and watch the needle go in.

And every person who doesn’t need a second shot means a first shot for someone else.

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