Should you wait to get a booster shot if you have a breakthrough COVID-19 case?

Although a COVID-19 infection does increase a person's immunity, experts say they should still get a booster shot. A MetroHealth doctor says you only need to wait until you are out of isolation to get the shot. [Tom Wang / Shutterstock]
Although a COVID-19 infection does increase a person's immunity, experts say they should still get a booster shot. A MetroHealth doctor says you only need to wait until you are out of isolation to get the shot. [Tom Wang / Shutterstock]
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The Ideastream Health Team is working to answer listeners’ questions about the omicron variant of the coronavirus and the vaccines, with the help from local experts in a range of fields. You can send us your questions with our online form, through our social media group, or call us at 216-916-6476. We'll keep the answers coming on our website and on the air.

Rob in Cleveland Heights asked, “If I was fully vaccinated in March/April and recently suffered a breakthrough case in October, should I get the booster shot or wait?”

Individuals only need to wait to get their booster until they are out of isolation after getting COVID-19, even if it is a breakthrough case, which according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is 10 days after symptom onset, said Dr. David Margolius, division director of general internal medicine at MetroHealth.

That way, the person does not expose those working at the vaccine site to the virus, Margolius said.

“The idea is that you just don’t get the pharmacist or the nurse sick that you’re getting the shot from, and the other folks in the waiting room,” he said.

And while contracting the virus does increase your immunity, it’s still a good idea to get your booster, Margolius said.

“More and more, it’s our next line of defense against the variants and the latest surges of COVID,” he said. “There’s less of a rush to get the shot because getting COVID, unfortunately, is kind of boosting your immune system, so you’re welcome to let other folks go in front of you, but you just need to wait the 10 days until you’re out of isolation and then you can go ahead and get it.”

Boosters are especially important for vulnerable and older individuals to get, Margolius added.

If you do decide to hold off on getting the shot for a bit, Margolius recommends not waiting more than 6 months, as prior immunity drops after that time. 

Anyone over the age of 18 who is six months out of getting the COVID-19 vaccine is recommended for a booster shot. Ohioans can find locations offering a booster on the state’s online scheduling portal.

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