Do I Need to Get Tested After I’ve Been Vaccinated?

Now that there are two approved vaccinations for the COVID-19 virus in the US, we are learning more about what the virus means for individual immunity as well as preventing community spread in the future. Vaccines will be available to everyone, regardless of whether or not someone has been infected with COVID-19. The goal of the COVID-19 vaccine is to prompt your body to develop an immune response. 

Time Frame Between First and Second Vaccine Doses

The two available vaccines in the US, Moderna and Pfizer, both require two doses in order to build up the necessary immunity to prevent future infections. After you get the first dose of the Pfizer vaccine, you must wait 21 days to get the second dose. Similarly, after the first dose of the Moderna vaccine, you must wait 28 days before the second dose. The first dose for both vaccines is only about 50% effective, so it is still possible to get the COVID-19 virus before you receive your second dose. If you develop symptoms of COVID-19, including coughing, shortness of breath, and loss of taste or smell, you should get tested to determine if you are infected with the virus. 

Development of Antibodies in Your System

It can take at least 10 days to develop antibodies for the virus, which are proteins that your body develops to help fight the virus and hopefully protect you from future infection. These antibodies are a sign that the virus has initiated an immune system response in your body. The combination of 50% effectiveness after the first dose and the timeframe it takes to develop antibodies means that it is possible to still become infected with COVID-19. At this point, researchers and scientists believe the first dose of the vaccine may take approximately two weeks to build up the immunity that will provide you with any protection against the virus. 

Continued COVID-19 Testing after Vaccination

While you may develop a low fever immediately after the vaccination, it is important to understand that the vaccine does not contain any live virus. This means the vaccine cannot cause you to become sick with the COVID-19 virus. Instead, the vaccine for COVID-19 actually teaches your body to develop an immune response so it can recognize and fight COVID-19. If you do test positive for the virus after your first dose, talk to your doctor about getting tested for COVID-19 and determine the best time frame for you to get the second dose. Because there is a risk for such severe symptoms and risks with the COVID-19 virus, you should stay home and self-isolate if you develop any symptoms of COVID-19. Even after you have received the COVID-19 vaccine, you should still continue to wear a mask and practice social distancing until the vaccine is more widely distributed and the spread of the virus has lowered.


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