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A Listener Asks, 'My Parents Were Treated For COVID With Antibodies. When Can They Get Vaccinated?'

A COVID-19 vaccine being prepared at the New York State drive-thru vaccination site at Plattsburgh International Airport.
Office of N.Y. Gov. Andrew Cuomo

At WSHU, we got an email from a listener from Riverhead on Long Island who was concerned about her elderly parents getting the COVID-19 vaccine. She wanted to know when it was safe for them to get the shot since they were treated for COVID-19 with antibodies earlier this year. So, we asked Dr. Roderick Go, an associate professor of clinical medicine at Stony Brook Medicine.

The listener said her parents feel healthy after having COVID-19 in March. She said they were to wait at least 90 days till their first shot. But now they are worried how protected they will be.

J.D. Allen, WSHU: How protected are COVID survivors that were treated with antibodies, especially elderly patients?

Roderick Go: They're very well protected for 90 days after the infusion. We recommend that people wait the 90 days between getting the monoclonal antibody infusion and getting a vaccine because there's concerns that there might be some interference with the antibody treatment.

JDA: Some seniors might feel like they beat the odds and survived. Why should they wait 90 days for the vaccine? What happens during that time?

RG: These antibodies essentially block the virus from infecting the cells in our body. In clinical studies, they've been found to keep people out of hospitals, and we've noticed a 70 to 80% reduction in the number of people who are hospitalized because of COVID after they receive these monoclonal antibodies.

JDA: What happens if they get the vaccine earlier? Is it less effective?

RG: People who have received the monoclonal antibodies are protected for this 90 day period, but after that the antibodies will disappear from their system, so they really should get the vaccine to provide longer protection against this infection. We don't know for certain, but the thought is that getting the vaccine earlier in someone who's had these monoclonal antibodies, your body may not react as well to the vaccine, meaning you'll be less protected when you get the vaccine.

JDA: If those who are not computer savvy to book an appointment online, like a senior, how might they get the shot?

RG: A lot of pharmacies are now allowing walk-ins so you don't need to book an appointment per se. Some pharmacies — I know Walgreens and Costco — will let people walk in without an appointment and get the vaccine right there and then. For seniors that are homebound, many of the counties will offer services where a public health nurse will come to your home and give you the vaccine. We get very concerned about our older persons because we know that not only are they at higher risk for getting COVID-19 but they're also at higher risk for developing complications and dying from this disease.

Dr. Roderick Go, associate professor of clinical medicine, works in the infectious disease division of Stony Brook Medicine.

How to get the shot and who’s eligible:

  • Everyone 12 and up is eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine. The first dose is available without appointments at most state-run sites.
  • Appointments could still be needed for second doses. New Yorkers can set up a second dose appointment online using the “Am I Eligible” app and by phone 833-697-4829.
  • In Connecticut, they can be scheduled online at ct.gov/covidvaccine or by phone at 877-918-2224.
A native Long Islander, J.D. is WSHU's managing editor. He also hosts the climate podcast Higher Ground. J.D. reports for public radio stations across the Northeast, is a journalism educator and proud SPJ member.