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VERIFY: Should I get the COVID vaccine if I'm sick?

Is it okay to get the COVID-19 vaccine while you're currently sick with COVID-19? What if you're just under the weather? Our Verify experts answer.

WASHINGTON — It’s been one of the most searched for stories in Verify history: can you get a COVID-19 vaccine if you’re currently sick?

And it makes sense; COVID-19 vaccine appointments were hard to come by for months, so the idea of rescheduling could be daunting. 

But our Verify experts say if you're currently sick, you'll want to follow this advice.

THE QUESTION

Should you get the COVID vaccine if you're currently sick with COVID-19? What if you're sick with something else, like a cold, the flu or you're just not feeling well?

THE SOURCES

THE ANSWER

Both our experts agree, you should not get the vaccine if you are currently sick with COVID-19. 

When it comes to other illnesses, Dr. Nabha takes a case by case approach and says it depends on the severity of your illness. Dr. Adalja says wait until the sickness clears.

WHAT WE FOUND

Both Verify our experts agreed that if you're currently sick with COVID-19, you should re-schedule your vaccination appointment and stay home.

"You're going to pose a risk to people who may be at the vaccine center getting vaccinated themselves, or to the people that are vaccinating you," Dr. Adalja said

Dr. Nabha explained you also don't want to potentially make yourself sicker than you already are.

"Getting the COVID vaccine while you have COVID may cause some adverse side effects that you just don't want to have," she said.

The CDC echoed that recommendation: "No. People with COVID-19 who have symptoms should wait to be vaccinated until they have recovered from their illness and have met the criteria for discontinuing isolation; those without symptoms should also wait until they meet the criteria before getting vaccinated. This guidance also applies to people who get COVID-19 before getting their second dose of vaccine." 

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The CDC says you can get the jab once you meet this criteria:

  • Its been 10 days since symptoms began
  • You’re 24 hours without a fever (without the help of meds)
  • Any other COVID symptoms are improving
  • If you were asymptomatic, the only criteria is waiting 10 days since your positive test

So what happens if you’re not sick with COVID-19, but you have something else like the flu, a cold, or you’re just not feeling great?

First and foremost, our experts advise you make sure it's not COVID.

Dr. Naha explained that for her, it should be a case by case decision.

"If your illness is very mild, then in that case, getting the vaccine should be fine," Dr. Nabha said. "I always recommend calling your primary care physician before."

However, if your sickness is more than mild, like a fever, or chills, Dr. Nabha said you're going to want to delay that appointment.

But Dr. Adalja says if you're sick, wait until you feel completely better.

"When you're going to a general public vaccine center, you should be mindful about not spreading something to other people, whether it's COVID-19, or some other respiratory virus," he said.

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