According to the Malaysian Special Committee oc COVID-19 vaccine supply (JKJAV) in conjunction with Malaysian Ministry of Health (MOH), COVID-19 vaccine (vaksin coronavirus) can be given to individuals who have been recovered from a COVID-19 infection. However further assessment and recommendation will be advised depending on each individual specifically.
Why take the vaccine?
The Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have stated that everyone should partake in the vaccination initiative regardless whether he or she has been infected (and recovered) by the virus or not. This is because experts do not yet know how long a recovered COVID-19 patient will be protected from getting sick again. Moreover, following the current data, there were cases of reported reinfection of COVID-19 in an already recovered COVID-19 patient.
What about natural immunity?
By theory, once our body’s immune system can recognize the virus (due to prior infection), the immune system will automatically eliminate all the identical pathogens inside our body with the help of specific antibodies. Although it will take some time to develop, once established, it would provide a longer protection against future reinfections.
However different individuals have different ability to function optimally, indeed babies, small children, senior citizens, individuals with impaired immunity and those with comorbidity might not be able to compensate for the complications that arise due to the infection before the self-made (natural) immunity kicks in. Thus these groups of individuals (besides the children) are highly advised to take the vaccine whenever possible.
Nonetheless, due to the birth of different variants of the COVID-19, or the sheer propensity of the SARV-CoV-2 virus, healthy people that have experienced mild or asymptomatic infection followed by the absences of antibody would still be at high risk of being infected again. Similarly, those with presumably developed antibodies are still susceptible to possible reinfection. Hence taking the vaccine would be the best action moving forward.
When can a recovered patient receive the COVID19 vaccine?
Some experts believe those that have been treated with monoclonal antibodies or convalescent plasma would need to wait for 90 days before getting their first COVID-19 vaccination dose. While others believe that after 3 to 6 months post recovery, these individuals would need to take some test to find out the presence of specific antibodies that circulate in their circulatory system. Failure to have the required antibody would mean that they need to get the vaccine soon. However under certain circumstances doctors might advise certain patients to receive the jab earlier than usual. These various recommendations are always for the best interest of the patient in response to their typical health and condition.
Would there be any side effects after receiving the vaccine?
Although there were numerous reports of recovered patients having side effects after receiving the vaccine, nothing was beyond the common description of possible side effects post COVID-19 vaccination. These would include arm sores, fever, body chills, diarrhoea, nausea and other related conditions. However, interestingly, certain individuals describing their reactions post vaccination were closely similar to what they experienced during their previous infections, such as high fever, headaches and body aches. Nonetheless, scientists insist that these temporary reactions only mean that the vaccine is working.
How many doses should a recovered COVID-19 patient receive?
Ongoing study is still currently debating – and have yet to agree – on whether recovered COVID-19 patients should receive two doses of vaccine (similar to those that have never been infected) or only 1 dose is sufficient due to their previous encounter to the coronavirus. Most doctors and experts are inclined towards the latter, as studies have found that recovered patients may not receive any significant boost of immunity from the second dose. While other data shows that recovered patients experience a far more rigorous side effect inducing that a greater response can be associated with a sufficient antibody development.