Your Covid-19 questions answered

How long does it take after a Covid-19 vaccination before I am protected?

27 July 2021 - 07:00 By unathi nkanjeni
It typically takes two weeks after vaccination for the body to build immunity against Covid-19. Stock image.
It typically takes two weeks after vaccination for the body to build immunity against Covid-19. Stock image.
Image: 123RF/ssilver

It typically takes two weeks after vaccination for the body to build immunity against Covid-19.

This is according to the National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD), a division of the national health laboratory service.

“The body’s immune system takes up to 14 days to develop strong immune responses after the first dose of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. With the Pfizer-BioNTech there is some protection two weeks after the first dose, but the best protection is achieved after the second dose,” said the institution.

The NICD said good data  is emerging showing that breakthrough asymptomatic infections — Covid-19 infections after vaccination — are uncommon within 10 days after one dose, and extremely uncommon after two doses of Pfizer or Moderna vaccines.

“The infections after vaccination are usually mild and do not require hospitalisation,” said the NICD.

The NICD advised that wearing a face mask and social distancing should still be adhered to even after being fully vaccinated.

“Presently it is unclear if Covid-19 vaccines provide complete protection from infection with mild Covid-19, allowing the spread of the virus,” the NICD explained.

“The evidence shows that Covid-19 vaccines protect from severe disease, hospitalisation and death. Therefore, until enough evidence has been gathered, individuals should wear masks and adhere to non-pharmaceutical interventions, including physical and social distancing.”


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