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Do you need the COVID-19 vaccine if you’ve already had the virus? The CDC says yes.

Updated: Dec. 22, 2020 at 3:31 PM HST
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HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - Lt. Gov. Josh Green got his first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine on Tuesday, and urged others to do the same when they’re eligible.

Green, a doctor, is also one of more than 20,000 people in Hawaii who have contracted the coronavirus.

While it’s likely they have some natural immunity, officials at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say they should still get vaccinated.

[Related coverage: ‘It provides hope for us’: Lt. Gov. Josh Green receives COVID-19 vaccine]

Health experts recommend waiting 90 days after symptoms subside to get vaccinated. Doctors add that decision should always be made on a case-by-case basis.

Tuesday marked 101 days since Green’s last symptoms of COVID-19.

While politicians aren’t yet eligible for the shot, Green is at the top of the list because he still works every other weekend in the emergency room at Kohala Hospital.

“Today, I’ll be getting the Pfizer vaccine,” he said, during a press availability Tuesday.

He said he sees the shot as an insurance policy that reduces the chance he’ll catch the virus again.

“We just don’t know how long natural immunity lasts,” he said.

According to the CDC, it’s possible to contract COVID-19 more than once.

But the risk of reinfection is much lower in the 90 days after a patient initially gets sick. Health experts say if you’ve recovered from the virus and are eligible for the vaccine, make your doctor aware.

“Some of this is just information for the registry. Some of it’s for safety,” said Jason Chang, president of the Queen’s Medical Center.

He added that everyone should provide their clinician with a brief health history prior to getting the shot, including “if you’ve had any allergic reactions to other things because those are potentially precautions we need to take.”

After being immunized, Green urged others to do the same when the time comes.

“I feel completely the same as I did before the shot,” he said. “I am personally a strong believer that this will help our healthcare system, our society. This is the light at the end of the tunnel.”

Statewide, the vaccination effort is ramping up. Officials at the Queen’s Medical Center say they’re now administering between 800 and 1,000 vaccines to frontline workers each day.

Health care providers on the Neighbor Islands have also started receiving their immunizations.

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