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VERIFY: Plasma treatment for COVID-19 patients will delay vaccine

The CDC is recommending that patients who received an antibody treatment wait 90 days to get the vaccine.

WASHINGTON — Even though vaccine distribution is speeding up, some other factors might be delaying the shot from getting in people’s arms.

If you got treatment for coronavirus, you might have to wait months to get a vaccine.

Question:

How long do patients who got plasma treatment for COVID-19 have to wait to get a vaccine?

Answer:

The patients have to wait 90 days.

Our Sources:

Dr. William Schaffner, an infectious diseases expert from Vanderbilt University. Dr. Shmuel Shoham, an infectious diseases expert from Johns Hopkins University and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

What We Found:

Hospitals have developed a variety of treatments for people who get COVID-19. One of the most prevalent is called a convalescent plasma transfusion, or therapy.

“People who've had COVID develop antibodies and those antibodies circulate in your bloodstream. And if you take out the red blood cells, what's left is plasma,” Dr. Schaffner explained.

According to our experts, once doctors have that donated plasma, they inject it into patients stricken with COVID-19. The plasma’s antibodies help them heal.

However, it may cause a delay in when you can get a vaccine.

“We don't want those antibodies in the plasma to interfere in any way with the vaccine's response to the immune system,” Dr. Schaffner said.

“[The concern is] that the vaccine isn't as effective because it's sort of shielded from the rest of the immune system by these antibodies,” Dr. Shoham said.

According to the CDC and our experts, it is advised these patients wait 90 days after the treatment before getting the vaccine.

During that 90-day period, they're probably still protected from the antibodies from their infection,” Dr. Shoham said.

Both doctors said it is a precautionary measure, as we continue to learn more about coronavirus and its treatments.

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