Got COVID-19 between vaccine doses? Experts offer advice

The push to get more people vaccinated continues across Wisconsin, but what should you do if you contract COVID-19 between your first and second dose?

After receiving the first dose of the two-dose vaccine, the three-week period between shots leaves room for the virus to remain a threat.

"It takes about two weeks for your immunity to start to build up against COVID, so even at that two-week point you’re probably only 50% protected against COVID," said Dr. William Hartman with UW Health.

Doctors said it is not common to contract COVID-19 between doses, but it does happen. It is not something, health officials say, should deter people from getting the second shot.

"Does not mean you have to start over, and does mean you should get your second dose scheduled as soon as possible as long as you’re in that six-week window from your first dose," Dr. Gregory Brusko, Ascension chief clinical officer.

If you get the virus between doses, health experts recommend waiting until all symptoms subside for at least 24 hours before getting the second shot. For those who are asymptomatic, doctors say to isolate for at least 10 days.

"You’re basically causing another immune response -- when you’re already experiencing an immune response because of the current infection," said Dr. Minhaj Husain, an infectious disease physician with Aurora Health.

Doctors said those who test positive for COVID-19 might have enhanced immunity, but that's no reason to cancel the second dose appointment.

"That long-lasting immunity against COVID, which really gives you that 95% protection for that entire period of time, is what you get with that second dose," Hartman said.

Health officials say it is a good reminder that after your second dose, you are not fully protected. It is important to continue following safety measures like handwashing and mask-wearing.

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