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What Happens if You Test Positive After Your First COVID-19 Vaccine Dose?

What does it mean if you test positive for COVID-19 shortly after your first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine?

Did you have a positive COVID-19 PCR test too?
Did you have a positive COVID-19 PCR test too?

Well, we know what it doesn’t mean.

It doesn’t mean that your COVID-19 vaccine caused you to test positive. Everyone knows that, right?

What Happens if You Test Positive After Your First COVID-19 Vaccine Dose?

What else do you need to know?

It isn’t a breakthrough case of COVID-19 either, as it takes time to for your COVID-19 shot to work.

So what happened?

It is possible that the result was a false positive…

What is COVID-19 activity like in your area? Are cases spiking? Do you typically practice social distancing and wear a mask?

Assuming the test is a true positive result, then you were exposed to someone with COVID-19 some time in the 2-19 days before you tested positive – the incubation period for COVID-19. And in that time after you were exposed, but not yet showing symptoms, you got your vaccine.

“It typically takes a few weeks for the body to build immunity (protection against the virus that causes COVID-19) after vaccination. That means it’s possible a person could be infected with the virus that causes COVID-19 just before or just after vaccination and still get sick. This is because the vaccine has not had enough time to provide protection.”

Myths and Facts about COVID-19 Vaccines

What happens next?

“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.”

Frequently Asked Questions about COVID-19 Vaccination

Unless you had the Janssen COVID-19 vaccine, which is just one dose, then you still need another dose.

And once you are done with your isolation period and are feeling better, you can consider getting your second dose of COVID-19 vaccine.

What if your second dose is late?

“If it is not feasible to adhere to the recommended interval and a delay in vaccination is unavoidable, the second dose of Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines may be administered up to 6 weeks (42 days) after the first dose. Currently, only limited data are available on efficacy of mRNA COVID-19 vaccines administered beyond this window.”

Interim Clinical Considerations for Use of COVID-19 Vaccines Currently Authorized in the United States

Since you have up to six weeks in between doses to complete the series, that should give you plenty of time to get your second shot, even if you got sick in between doses.

Keep in mind that there are no recommendations for delaying the second dose more than six weeks though.

What about the 90 day deferment period?

“…if a person was infected within the last 90 days, they may defer vaccination until after a 90-day period or if they were treated with monoclonal antibodies or convalescent plasma within the last 90 days vaccination should be deferred.”

COVID-19 Vaccine FAQs for Healthcare Professionals

That’s if you had received monoclonal antibody treatment, which might interfere with your vaccine working. And even if you didn’t have the monoclonal antibody treatment, your natural antibodies should protect you for at least 90 days, during which time, if you were unvaccinated, you might allow other people to get vaccinated and protected first until vaccine supplies improve.

Keep in mind that there is no guidance on what happens if you wait 90 days in between your doses of COVID-19 vaccine, although you would likely just get your second dose and not restart the series, even if it was late.

Getting Vaccinated After COVID-19 Infection

But can you really get vaccinated after you have a natural COVID-19 infection?

Yes, you can!

“We also noted that vaccine reactogenicity after the first dose is substantially more pronounced in individuals with pre-existing immunity akin to side-effects reported for the second dose in the phase III vaccine trials.”

Robust spike antibody responses and increased reactogenicity in seropositive individuals after a single dose of SARS-CoV-2 mRNA vaccine

Studies have shown an increase in side effects in some who are vaccinated after a previous infection, but those side effects are not severe.

And the vaccines seem to work so well in these patients, there is talk that these folks may just need one dose of vaccine! Of course, that probably doesn’t help you if you got your one dose just before you developed COVID-19…

Breakthrough COVID-19 Disease

What happens if you develop COVID-19 after being fully vaccinated?

“If a person is fully vaccinated (i.e., ≥2 weeks after completion of a two-dose mRNA series or single dose of Janssen vaccine) and tests positive for SARS-CoV-2, healthcare providers and local health departments are encouraged to request the specimen be held and to report the case to their state health department. CDC will work with the state health department to collect information about the case. In addition, information about these cases should be reported to VAERS.”

Interim Clinical Considerations for Use of COVID-19 Vaccines Currently Authorized in the United States

In this case, you got sick despite the fact that you should have been protected.


While it could be that your vaccine simply didn’t work, it is also possible that you became infected with a COVID-19 variant to which your COVID-19 vaccine didn’t provide protection.

Hopefully these cases will be uncommon.

More on COVID-19 Vaccines

1 thought on “What Happens if You Test Positive After Your First COVID-19 Vaccine Dose?”

  1. Or the vaccination setting itself exposed the jabber to infection by respiration or touch, remember 40% of UK infections are nosocomial.

    Of course getting jabbed after having fought off covid naturally will trigger a heightened immune response and the worry is that the individual’s immune system will misidentify the breeder cells as hostile and trigger an auto-immune reaction of unknown duration.

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