How soon after Covid can I get a booster?

High-risk individuals—such as older adults—may not need to wait as long as those who are less likely to develop severe disease

Maggie O'Neill
Monday 16 October 2023 22:08 BST
Martha Stewart receives Covid vaccine
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Updated Covid boosters – that protect against currently circulating variants – are now available in pharmacies nationwide. In the US, everyone six months and older is eligible for the updated shot.

But anyone who recently had the virus should make sure they’re putting enough time between the last time they had it and their vaccine appointment, per the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Specifically, people who are not high-risk for severe disease from SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes Covid-19, should consider scheduling their vaccine a full three months after their Covid infection.

However, some people may not need to wait that long, and should consider speaking to a healthcare provider about when to get their vaccine after having an infection. Anyone who is high-risk for severe disease from Covid or who lives with – or otherwise has close contact with – someone who is high-risk should consult their doctor on the best time to get vaccinated after being infected.

Healthcare providers may consider how Covid is currently affecting a person’s community – for instance, by looking at how many hospitalisations the virus is causing – when helping them decide when to get vaccinated after an infection.

Being infected with Covid does not mean you won’t get sick with the virus again: People who had Covid then subsequently chose not to stay up-to-date with their vaccinations are more likely to get re-infected than people who get vaccinated after recovering from the virus, per the CDC.

The vaccine can help all people – not just older adults, immunocompromised people, and other high-risk individuals – lower their chances of bad outcomes like hospitalisation and death from the virus. It may also protect against long Covid, according to research published in December 2022 in Antimicrobial Stewardship & Healthcare Epidemiology.

Though some Republican politicians, including Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, have recently suggested the Covid vaccine may not be completely safe, there’s no evidence to support this theory, per the CDC.

At least 7 million Americans have so far gotten the new Covid vaccines, which were rolled out in September, according to reporting from Reuters.

It’s important to stay up-to-date on all vaccines, including the updated Covid shot, to help the US avoid healthcare delays from a “tripledemic, which could occur this winter if cases of Covid, influenza, and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) all peak at the same time.

If this occurs, hospitals and other healthcare facilities may be so overrun with people with respiratory viruses that they have to delay routine preventive care, such as cancer screenings.

If you don’t have health insurance or your policy won’t cover the cost, you can get the updated Covid vaccine for free through the Bridge Access Program, run by the CDC. You can find more information on the program here.

CDC Director Dr Mandy Cohen has said high vaccination rates will be crucial in keeping Americans healthy during the coming months. In a statement released 12 September, Dr Cohen said, “We have more tools than ever to prevent the worst outcomes from COVID-19. CDC is now recommending updated COVID-19 vaccination…to better protect you and your loved ones.”

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