I’ve Had COVID-19. Now What?

by Kroger Health Staff

Last Updated: January 21, 2021

If you’ve been diagnosed with COVID-19, you probably have many questions, even as you are in the recovery period. Following are our answers to some of the most common recovery questions:

Q: How long will I be contagious?
A: According to The Centers For Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), if you had symptoms, you could stop isolating ten days after your symptoms first appeared, and you’ve had 24 hours with no fever without the use of fever-reducing medications and your other COVID-19 symptoms are improving. If you tested positive but had no symptoms, you can stop isolating yourself ten days after your positive test. People who were severely ill might need to stay home up to 20 days after symptoms first appeared. In some patients, loss of taste and smell can last for months, but this symptom doesn’t need to delay the end of your isolation.

Q: Does this mean I won’t have to wear a mask anymore?
A: Everyone still needs to wear a mask, including those who have had a positive COVID-19 test, even after recovering. It’s important to protect yourself and others from the virus by practicing protective measures including social distancing, wearing a mask, and washing your hands with soap frequently.

Q: I’ve just been diagnosed with COVID-19. How long will my symptoms last?
A: Severity and duration of symptoms vary from person to person. If you have a mild case, you will likely recover in about two weeks. For more severe cases, hospitalization may be required, and recovery could take up to six weeks. Some symptoms, including fatigue and loss of taste and smell, can persist for weeks or even months after recovery.

Q: How long will I be immune?
A: Infection from any virus initiates the immune system to create antibodies to protect against future attacks. Immunity can last anywhere from a few weeks to a lifetime. Researchers are still learning about COVID-19 antibodies, including how long they last and what level of immunity they may provide. Results so far vary, with some studies suggesting long-lasting immunity and other studies suggesting neutralizing antibodies may only last a few months.

Q: Do I need the vaccine if I’ve already had COVID-19?
A: COVID-19 survivors are strongly encouraged to get the vaccine because re-infection, while rare, is possible. Medical experts aren’t yet sure how long immunity lasts. If you already have immunity from a past infection, the vaccine will act as a booster, providing you an even better immune response when you do come in contact with the virus in the future.

If you had a severe case of COVID-19 or your lingering symptoms are affecting your daily life, it is important to schedule an appointment with your healthcare provider.

Disclaimer: The information in this story is accurate as of its publication. However, the situation surrounding COVID-19 is ever-evolving. We are working to keep our stories up-to-date as changes occur, but we also encourage everyone to check news and recommendations from the CDC, WHO, and their local authorities.