I had COVID-19, now what?

January 13, 2021 | by Edward-Elmhurst Health
Categories: Healthy Driven Life

Millions of people in the U.S. have been infected with SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19.

While the infection may have been unpleasant, or even serious, the fact that you’ve recovered means you likely have the powerful benefit of antibody protection from reinfection, called natural immunity.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) states anyone who has recovered from COVID-19 can safely be around others after:

  • 10 days since symptoms first appeared and
  • 24 hours with no fever without the use of fever-reducing medications and
  • Other symptoms (besides loss of taste and smell, which could linger for weeks) of COVID-19 are improving

If you had an asymptomatic infection, the CDC recommends you isolate yourself until 10 days have passed since your positive viral test for COVID-19.

People who were seriously ill from COVID-19 may need to wait up to 20 days before ending isolation, according to the CDC.

Those who have recovered from COVID-19 can make an important contribution to the fight against the virus by donating convalescent plasma. Only people who have natural immunity — not vaccinated immunity — are eligible to donate convalescent plasma.

Plasma (the yellow, liquid part of blood that contains antibodies) from people who have been fully recovered from COVID-19 for two weeks could be used to save the lives of people with severe illness from COVID-19. Locally, Versiti collects plasma donations from people who have recovered from COVID-19.

Despite the presence of antibodies, experts say people who have recovered from COVID-19 are not necessarily immune from future infection. Studies have shown that someone who recovered from COVID-19 isn’t likely to get infected again, but it isn’t impossible.

That’s why the CDC recommends that people who have already had COVID-19 get vaccinated against the disease when they’re able (usually once it’s been three months or longer since testing positive).

Experts are still studying how long natural immunity after infection lasts. For that reason, experts say people who have recovered from COVID-19 and those who have been vaccinated should continue to wear masks around others.

The mask helps protect you from people who are infected. On the flip side, people who produce antibodies against the coronavirus may still be asymptomatic carriers who could potentially infect others. The mask protects those around you from potential transmission.

Once enough people receive the vaccine, the risk of severe illness and widespread cases should diminish, lessening the need for public health measures such as face coverings and physical distancing.

This blog was reviewed by Alvaro Candel, MD, pathologist with Elmhurst Hospital, and Annemarie Schmocker, RN, BSN, CIC, Manager of Infection Control & Prevention at Elmhurst Hospital.

For the latest updates on the COVID-19 vaccine, please check EEHealth.org/coronavirus/vaccine.

Are you wondering whether to get the vaccine? Read our blog to learn more.

Edward-Elmhurst Health offers screening options for COVID-19, including a symptom checker to advise you on what to do next and a COVID-19 Nurse Triage Line (331-221-5199) to see if you meet testing requirements. We also offer Video Visits and E-Visits for COVID-19 symptoms.

The information in this article may change at any time due to the changing landscape of this pandemic. Read the latest on COVID-19.

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