Do Vaccinated People Need A COVID Test After Exposure? Dr. Mallika Marshall Answers Your Questions

Dr. Mallika Marshall is answering your coronavirus vaccine-related medical questions.

Video Transcript

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- Should you wait to get a COVID-19 vaccine? And why are people getting diagnosed with the virus after they've had both shots? Dr. Mallika Marshall is here tonight with the answers to some of your questions. Doctor, always good to see you.

Judy wants to know, "what's the rule for people who had COVID in January and are not vaccinated? Are they supposed to wear a mask indoors at a gym or at a yoga studio? These people believe they are as good as vaccinated people."

MALLIKA MARSHALL: These people-- yes, if you've had COVID in the past, you still need to get vaccinated. And that's because your immunity starts to wane over time. So it's generally recommended that someone who's had COVID in the past get vaccinated within three months of their infection. So if someone had COVID in January, they should have been vaccinated by now and certainly should plan on doing so soon.

If you've had COVID, and you haven't been vaccinated, then you're still considered unvaccinated and need to follow the rules for the people who are unvaccinated, which means you definitely should be wearing a mask indoors, when you're around other people.

- Hmm. Well, Jamie says, "I'm fully vaccinated with Pfizer, my second dose being January 29. I tested positive for COVID this past Tuesday. Honestly, not sure these vaccines are doing the job the companies want them to do." Doc, what do you say about that?

MALLIKA MARSHALL: Well, Jamie, we know the vaccines are working, and we know that they're working well. Yes, there are going to be some fully vaccinated people that are going to get infected with the coronavirus, have a breakthrough infection because the vaccines aren't 100% protective against getting infected. But many of those people aren't going to develop any symptoms at all. If they do, they tend to be mild symptoms. And it's unlikely that someone who has fully vaccinated will get severe disease, get hospitalized, and die from it, which, of course, is the ultimate goal of these vaccines.

The other plus is that, if you've been fully vaccinated and you test positive for the coronavirus, you are also much less likely to pass the virus on to other people. So the vaccines are doing their job.

- All important points. Doctor, Lois writes, "I am fully vaccinated. If I am exposed to someone with COVID, do I need to be tested?"

MALLIKA MARSHALL: No, if you're fully vaccinated, you only need to be tested if you develop symptoms. So if you come into contact with someone with COVID but you are asymptomatic, you don't have any symptoms, then you don't need to go get tested.

- Dr. Mallika, always great to see you. Thank you so much for the insight and the advice. Dr. Mallika offers her best advice. But as always, consult with your personal doctor before making any decisions about your health. If you have a question for Dr. Mallika, there are three ways to reach her-- her email, DrMallika@cbs.com, on Twitter at @mallikamarshall, or Facebook Message her, Dr. Mallika Marshall.