What Happens If You Get The Vaccine And Don't Know You Have COVID-19?

Cleveland physicians say it shouldn’t harm you if you get the vaccine when you have COVID-19, but it isn't necessarily a good thing. [Prostock-studio / Shutterstock]
Cleveland physicians say it shouldn’t harm you if you get the vaccine when you have COVID-19, but it isn't necessarily a good thing. [Prostock-studio / Shutterstock]
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What are your questions about the coronavirus vaccine?

ideastream's health team is answering as many questions as possible, with help from local experts in a range of fields. You can send us your questions with our online form, through our social media group, or call us at 216-916-6476. We'll keep the answers coming on our website and on the air.

Caroline from Euclid asks: “If you have COVID-19, but don't know it when you are vaccinated, would that increase or decrease your chances of becoming seriously ill?”

No, it won’t make you sicker or less sick if you have COVID-19 and get the vaccine, said Dr. Thad Stappenbeck, chair of the Cleveland Clinic Lerner Research Institute, but it could make the vaccine less effective if you get the shot when you have symptoms of any virus, he said.

That's why health care workers ask if you’re feeling sick before getting the COVID-19 vaccine, Dr. Stappenbeck said.

“They’ll wait until you’re feeling better for like a week or so, and then you can get vaccinated,” he said. “It’s all about the vaccine working. That’s really what this is all about.”

It is also best not to get other vaccines, like the flu shot, if you’re feeling sick, because it can impact the vaccine’s effectiveness, Stappenbeck said

Dr. David Margolius, an internal medicine specialist at MetroHealth, agreed that it shouldn’t make a difference if you get the vaccine when you have COVID.

“The reason we ask people to wait until they have recovered from COVID before getting the vaccine is to keep all the health care workers and others safe during the process,” Margolius said in an email.

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