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Your booster shot is still effective even if you contract COVID shortly after getting it

An infectious disease specialist explains it takes four weeks for the booster to reach optimal levels of antibodies.

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Nearly 160,000 people in Shelby County have received their booster, but some are experiencing some mild breakthrough cases due to the Omicron variant. 

Infectious disease specialist Dr. Hiren Pokharna explained your booster will still be effective even if you contract COVID-19 shortly after getting it. However, it won't have its full effect during your infection. 

"If you have taken the booster and you, for example, get an infection after even two weeks, I think after two weeks the body has developed those neutralizing antibodies to a certain level where that initial period of getting sick will be decreased and your severity will be much decreased," Pokharna said. 

Pokharna said you will reach your optimal level of antibodies from the booster shot four weeks after getting it. You'll at least have protection from the first two shots if you get COVID right after getting your third shot. 

"If you have taken your booster and on top that you do get exposed, your body is going to respond in a couple of ways to get enough antibodies into your system. And at the end of it, your booster is still going to do what it's supposed to do," Pokharna said. "It will still bring you up to those optimal neutralizing antibody levels. So at least for this Omicron and at least through the viruses we've been through you won't need another booster." 

Pokharna predicts cases of the Omicron variant will likely start to decrease soon, but advises everyone to get their booster shot as soon as they are eligible. 

"The next 7 to 10 days I think is the most critical," Pokharna said. "If we can all take care over the next 7-10 days, the hope is this wave will get through and the numbers will start dwindling again." 

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