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If a person who has been vaccinated gets COVID-19, the disease strengthens the protection that has been created through vaccination in the same way as the next vaccine dose does in persons who have not had the disease.

It must, however, be noted that the interval between a vaccine dose and a coronavirus infection must be long enough: at least six weeks. Otherwise, the infection is not considered equivalent to a vaccine dose. A longer interval leads to a better immune response.

A first dose after COVID-19

The Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare THL recommends a first vaccine dose for persons who have had COVID-19:

  • two months after COVID-19 at the earliest, if the person has turned 18
  • 4-6 months after COVID-19 at the earliest, if the person has not yet turned 18

A second dose after COVID-19

THL recommends that a second dose is offered as a booster to those who have had COVID-19 and have received one vaccine dose. A second dose:

  • is recommended for people aged 60 or over and those in at-risk groups 3 to 4 months after they received the first vaccine dose or had the disease, whichever has happened most recently.
  • can be offered to everyone aged 18 or over 4 to 6 months after they received the first dose or had the disease, whichever happened most recently.

For those who have had the disease, the second vaccine dose is equivalent to a third vaccine dose.

A second dose may, however, be given earlier if it is necessary for example because of a trip or for other substantial reasons. In such a case, a second dose may be given with the ordinary interval of 6–12 weeks. It is, however, good to remember that a longer interval between vaccine doses guarantees a qualitatively and quantitatively better protection.

A third dose after COVID-19

THL recommends a third vaccine dose for persons who have turned 12 and are severely immunocompromised, even if they have had COVID-19. A third dose is recommended 3–4 months after the previous vaccine dose or 3–4 months after having had COVID-19, whichever has happened most recently.

Other persons do not, at least for now, need a third vaccine dose in order to be protected if they have had COVID-19 and have received two vaccine doses.

A third dose may, however, also be given to other persons besides those who are severely immunocompromised if it is necessary for example because of a trip or for other substantial reasons. In such a case, a third dose may be given in accordance with the common schedule for third doses.

More information on THL’s website (in Finnish).

A fourth vaccine dose after having had COVID-19

A person who has had COVID-19 and has received three coronavirus vaccine doses does not need a fourth vaccine, as the illness is equivalent to one vaccine dose. More information on the website of the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare THL (in Finnish and in Swedish).

Vaccinating 5-11-year-old children after they have had COVID-19

If there is an interval of more than six weeks between a 5-11-year-old child’s first vaccine dose and illness, a second vaccine dose is not needed for protection. A 5-11-year-old child may, however, also be given a second vaccine dose, based on a local assessment, if it is necessary because of travelling or for a vaccination certificate.

If a vaccination is needed because of travelling, it is always good idea to check the current travel requirements in the destination. Many countries have completely lifted their travel restrictions or the restrictions do not apply to children under the age of 12. In these situations, one should also discuss the necessity of vaccinating with those who have custody of the child.

Generally, a negative test result from a coronavirus test is an alternative to a vaccination certificate when travelling. Instead of a vaccination, it is also good to consider the possibility of going to a coronavirus test that requires payment of a fee.

On the website Re-open EU that is maintained by the European Union, it is possible to check the travel restrictions in the EU and in the Schengen area.

If vaccination is found to be necessary, the interval between having had COVID-19 and getting vaccinated should be as long as possible: at least four months should pass after the illness or after the first vaccine dose depending on which has occurred most recently.

More information about vaccinations after having had COVID-19: