Contracted COVID-19 after first vaccine shot? Read about when to take second jab

TNM spoke to medical professionals who said that the timing of the second dose of COVID-19 vaccine would depend on a person’s antibody levels.
A medic prepares to administer a dose of COVID-19 vaccine to a beneficiary
A medic prepares to administer a dose of COVID-19 vaccine to a beneficiary
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It has been emphasised, several times, that taking the COVID-19 vaccine does not make you immune to the disease, rather, it can ensure that if you happen to contract it, the chances of it becoming a severe case are lower. However, Dr Anoop Amarnath, a member of the Critical Care Support Unit of the Karnataka government and a practitioner at Manipal Hospital, has observed many people develop ‘vaccine slag’ after getting the first shot. This means people let their guard down after getting the first dose. As a result, they may contract the illness.

In a scenario where a person has gotten COVID-19 between the two doses of the vaccine, how and when should they go about taking the second dose? We asked doctors, who said that it depends on the antibody levels in an individual’s body after they recover from COVID-19. This will help to ascertain when they should take the second shot.

“An antibody level of one is considered relevant. Usually, people will have the level of 10-15 after getting COVID-19. It is not advisable to go for vaccination when the levels are so high,” Dr Anoop says.

Dr Srivatsa Lokeshwaran, Consultant - Interventional Pulmonology at Aster CMI hospital in Bengaluru, says that they usually advise the patient to wait for around 1.5 months after recovering from COVID-19, before going for the second dose. “The antibody levels will decide when the patient can take the second shot. It is best to consult your doctor before you decide to go for the second shot if you’ve contracted COVID-19 in between the two doses,” Dr Srivatsa says. He also adds that post-recovery supervision should be done in the lead up to taking the second dose

Further, the Union government guidelines state that people who have had active symptoms of COVID-19, those who have been given convalescent plasma therapy for COVID-19 treatment or anti-SARS-CoV-2 monoclonal antibodies, should defer vaccination by 4-8 weeks.

It should also be noted that while Covaxin doses are to be administered 4-6 weeks apart, the gap between Covishield doses has been increased to 6-8 weeks from 4-6 weeks. This was done after a study published in the medical journal, The Lancet, found that the efficacy of Oxford-AstraZeneca’s vaccine formulation increased from 54% (when both doses were taken less than six weeks apart) to 82.4% when taken 12 or more weeks apart.

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