Are You Immune If You’ve Had COVID? How Long Are You Contagious?

Sheldon, Iowa — So, your worst fears have been realized. You were tested for COVID-19, and your test has come back positive. Now what?

Of course, the first thing you need to do is stay away from others. Sanford Sheldon physician Dr. Amy Badberg explains.

(as said:) “After you get your positive test, we recommend that you quarantine in your house for 10 days if you’ve had symptoms. we recommend that you are able to control your cough and not have any fevers. So then you can go back to work after those 10 days are up.”

Just to emphasize, Badberg is saying all three of those things have to have happened before you should be in the public at all. Any cough should be controlled, you should have no fever — without the use of fever-reducing medications, AND 10 days need to have passed since your first symptoms.

We asked Dr. Badberg if you’ve had COVID, how long you are contagious. She says everything is somewhat of an educated guess right now, but she tells us what they are doing at this time.

(as said:) “They’re not really sure how long you’re contagious but what they found is that during those 10 days that most of the contagious part of it goes away during there.”

Then we asked her a question for which many people are seeking answers. Does having had COVID make you immune — like when you’ve had the chickenpox — you don’t get it again. Does it work that way with COVID-19?

(as said:) “We don’t really know for sure. We know that if you have tested positive, even if you had contact [again] you would not have to quarantine for 90 days afterwards, and we would not test you. But we’re really not sure yet on what long-term immunity, how long it’s going to last, are there multiple strains… And so that’s really still up in the air… that we’re learning as people are recovering more from COVID.”

We asked Dr. Badberg if that means that any vaccine would have a limited effectiveness time period.

(as said:) That’s some of the things that they’re looking at when they’re researching these vaccines is you know, how long are they good for and a lot of that we won’t know until the vaccines are out for a while. Is it something that we have to give every year? You know, it just needs long-term. It’s just not been here long enough for us to know how long it’s going to work.”

Everyone wants to know how long it will be until there is a vaccine and we can supposedly go back to something that resembles normalcy. Again, she says, they don’t have that answer yet, but it’ll probably be at least six months yet, which would be towards the end of March.

(as said:) “They’re in Phase 2 and 3 of most of the vaccines that are promising. They have to go through four phases before they can be released to the general public. They’re not sure when it comes out if it’ll be a general-public-type release or if it’ll be for high-risk people. So they are looking at probably another six months or so. It depends on how fast some of these vaccines can go through research, but there are some very promising vaccines out there.”

Dr. Badberg reminds us that if someone with whom you have close contact has tested positive, you need to quarantine for 14 days, even if you test negative — because no one knows how long it will be before you may show symptoms or might be spreading COVID-19 unknowingly.