I have had Covid-19. Can I still get vaccine in France?

Studies reveal no serious adverse effects of vaccine on patients who have already had Covid-19

7 January 2021
By Thomas Brent

*update February 02

Reader question: I am 68 and I had Covid-19 back in May, 2020. Should I get vaccinated even if I have already had Covid-19?

France’s health body the Haute Autorité de Santé (HAS) published a recommendation on this matter on December 18, 2020.

It states that, “to date, the data does not indicate whether there is any benefit to vaccinate people who have already been infected with CoV-2-SARS.”

“The duration of long-term immunity conferred by Covid-19 is currently unknown. Although the actual frequency of reinfection cases is difficult to establish, the number of published cases of reinfection documented remains low for the moment (about 10).”

The authority notes, though, that there are “no particular serious adverse effects when a person who has already had Covid-19 is vaccinated”. This is based on studies carried out over a period of three months.

HAS states that anyone who has already had Covid-19 who wishes to be vaccinated can do so, following a consultation with their doctor. It is recommended that they wait for at least three months from the onset of symptoms before doing so.

The authority has also said that it is not worth testing people for Covid-19 before vaccinating them as current serology tests do not provide evidence of immunity to the virus.

Professor Rémi Salomon, medical commission president for Paris hospital chain AP-HP, said on February 2 that he recommends that anyone who has already had Covid-19 should receive only one dose of vaccines that usually require two doses. 

He himself had Covid-19 in March 2020 and decided to get just one dose of a vaccine.

“I had a little chat with some infectious disease colleagues who advised me to do so. It's like a booster shot,” he told Franceinfo. 

He said that in France, "those who have already had Covid-19 are recommended to be injected with "a single dose".

"Given the shortage [of vaccine doses], I think it's important to be as economical as possible and that's logical".

It is usually required for people to receive two doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna and AstraZeneca vaccines for them to have full efficiency. 

Research published by a laboratory in Toulouse has found that people who contract the Covid-19 virus naturally, for the first time, have an 85% higher immune level against the virus for at least six months afterwards, compared to people who have not had the virus.

Read more about the findings here.

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