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How Long Do Breakthrough COVID-19 Symptoms Last

Symptoms of Covid Sore throat can be irritating
by: Post-COVID Support Team

April 5, 2023

The coronavirus pandemic has changed the way we live. With so much uncertainty and confusion over how long people are contagious and what types of symptoms they may experience, it’s no surprise that people have questions about how long certain symptoms might last. One of the biggest questions is “how long do breakthrough COVID-19 symptoms last?”

To understand until when breakthrough COVID-19 symptoms last is to first define ‘breakthrough COVID-19″.

A COVID-19 breakthrough occurs when a person who has received all of the recommended COVID-19 vaccinations tests positive for the virus. A person who has gotten all the advised doses of a COVID-19 vaccine and allowed the advised amount of time for the vaccine to properly develop is considered fully immunized.

Despite being quite efficient at preventing serious sickness and hospitalization, COVID-19 vaccines are not 100% effective. When a person is exposed to the virus and their immune system is unable to develop a sufficient response to totally prevent infection, breakthrough instances might happen.

Breakthrough cases are still uncommon and that the vast majority of people who have received the entire course of vaccination continue to be protected against COVID-19. In addition, immunization has been demonstrated to greatly lower the risk of serious illness, hospitalization and death even if a breakthrough case occurs.

  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Fatigue
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
  • body aches and pains
  • Chills
  • Headaches
  • Sore throat
  • Loss of taste or smell
  • Nausea or vomiting and diarrhoea

Additional respiratory symptoms can also occur in some cases such as chest pain or tightness and a productive cough with mucus production.

In general, milder forms of the virus tend to resolve rather quickly while more severe cases tend to persist longer than two weeks.

Speak with your doctor right away if you are experiencing any of these symptoms after testing positive for a breakthrough infection, so they can evaluate your condition and recommend an appropriate treatment plan.

Immunity following recovery from a COVID-19 infection does not guarantee complete protection against reinfection with the virus. While individuals with prior SARS-CoV2 infections may develop some immunity from reinfection with the same strain of virus, there isn’t currently any evidence that suggests this type of immunity is strong enough to completely protect against future infections or symptom reoccurrence in those same individuals. This means that it’s possible for people who have recovered from an initial outbreak to experience renewed outbreaks and subsequent symptoms if exposed again regardless of their previous recovery status.

However, there are steps you can take to reduce your risk of reinfection

  • Continuing social distancing
  • Wearing masks when in public settings-
  • Washing your hands frequently
  • Avoiding large gatherings
  • Staying home when ill and getting vaccinated once the vaccine is available in your area-

Doing all these things along with monitoring your health closely can help ensure you remain safe even if you have already had one bout with the virus before.

How common is breakthrough COVID-19?

Breakthrough COVID-19 only affects a small percentage of those who have had the virus. The exact incidence rate is difficult to determine since there are many unknowns about the virus and its spread. However, it appears that breakthrough symptoms occur in roughly 2-5% of infected individuals.

Moreover, these symptoms usually appear within 6-8 weeks after the initial infection. Additionally, people with pre-existing conditions or weakened immune systems are more at risk for developing breakthrough COVID-19 infections than others who have contracted the illness previously.

What can lead to breakthrough COVID-19?

Breakthrough COVID-19 can occur in individuals who have previously contracted the virus, typically appearing within 6-8 weeks after initial infection. It is more common in people with pre-existing conditions or weakened immune systems.

The exact cause of breakthrough symptoms is unknown; however, it may be due to viral mutations that lead to reinfection or persistence of the virus for a longer period than usually occurs after infection. Inadequate immunity following primary infection may also play a role in the development of breakthrough infections.

COVID-19 symptoms typically last only a few days after vaccination, if they occur. Additionally, the vaccine has been shown to help protect against severe illness caused by the virus. So, while it may take several weeks for your body to build up protection against the virus and develop immunity, you should experience fewer or milder symptoms compared to what would occur if you didn’t get vaccinated.

Since vaccines are still relatively new, experts advise taking precautions such as wearing a mask and social distancing even after getting the vaccine to ensure complete safety from COVID-19 infection.

What are the benefits of full vaccination?

The benefits of full vaccination for COVID-19 include a greatly reduced risk of contracting the virus, decreased severity and duration of symptoms if you do become infected, better protection against severe illness caused by the virus, preventive measures that are not available with partial vaccination, and improved protection against developing long-term complications.

Vaccinated individuals also have an increased ability to contribute to herd immunity efforts in their community, potentially helping to protect vulnerable populations and reduce transmission rates. Receiving the complete vaccine regimen is essential for achieving the highest level of effectiveness in preventing COVID-19 symptoms or infection.

How does a booster vaccine impact the length of a sickness?

A booster vaccine can help lessen the symptoms of a sickness and reduce its duration. Booster doses increase the body’s levels of protective antibodies, allowing the immune system to more quickly recognize and fight off any potential infection. As a result, people may experience fewer or milder symptoms if they develop an illness after receiving a booster vaccine, compared to what would occur without being immunized.

Keep in mind that full vaccination with two doses (or one dose for certain vaccines) is necessary to maximize protection against an illness as well as reduce its severity and length.

How long you must quarantine during a COVID-19 sickness if vaccinated:

If you have been fully vaccinated for COVID-19, self-quarantine for the full duration of any illness that develops. This includes patients experiencing mild or moderate symptoms and those with severe cases. Self-isolation helps protect yourself and others from further spread of the virus and reduces the risk of transmission within your household, workplace, and community.

IFully vaccinated individuals can still develop COVID symptoms or become asymptomatically infected. Thus, it is essential to remain vigilant about preventive measures such as those mentioned above. Avoiding large gatherings and crowds could also help and avoiding touching surfaces in populated areas reduce the risk of infection. If not, frequent hand washing is recommended.

During self-isolation, follow your local health department’s guidelines regarding isolation periods. Quarantine should last at least 10 days after initial onset of symptoms or until there has been 24 hours without fever (without taking fever reducing medication).

If you develop more severe symptoms such as difficulty breathing or persistent cough requiring hospitalization then quarantine should continue until cleared by a healthcare provider. Make sure also to get tested while in isolation if symptoms appear; however even if test results come back negative (or inconclusive) it is important to continue isolation until recovery has been confirmed by a medical professional or 14 days have passed since symptom onset.


Breakthrough COVID-19 symptoms can continue anywhere from two weeks to longer depending on the severity of the initial virus infection and other factors, such as pre-existing disorders. More severe cases may stay longer depending on the situation.

Even after recovering from an initial episode of illness caused by coronavirus disease 2019, appropriate preventative measures should always be performed since no matter how long you had any specific symptom, it doesn’t mean that you are fully immune to reinfection.

COVID-19 Frequently Asked Questions

How long are you contagious after you test positive for COVID-19?

If you test positive for COVID-19, you will remain contagious for about 10 days after the onset of symptoms, or until 24 hours have passed without a fever (without taking fever reducing medication).

How long do breakthrough COVID symptoms last?

The symptoms of breakthrough COVID-19 can differ based on various factors such as pre-existing health conditions and the severity of the initial virus infection. Typically, these symptoms last for an average of up to two weeks, but in severe cases, they may persist beyond this duration, depending on individual circumstances.

What are the symptoms of COVID in vaccinated adults?

Common symptoms for vaccinated adults can be the same as those of vaccinated ones. These include fever, dry cough, fatigue, difficulty breathing or shortness of breath, muscle aches and pains, headache, sore throat, chills and loss of appetite. Less common symptoms can include nausea and vomiting, runny nose and/or congestion and diarrhea.

Are you still contagious with COVID-19 after 5 days?

Yes, you can still be contagious with COVID-19 after 5 days. According to the CDC, symptoms of COVID-19 may last for up to 14 days and people are most likely to be contagious until at least 10 days after symptom onset.

How long does COVID-19 last?

The duration of COVID-19 symptoms varies from person to person and can last anywhere from a few days to several weeks. Generally, most people experience mild or moderate symptoms that resolve within two weeks. However, some individuals may experience more severe symptoms that can last for longer periods of time.

Are you still contagious after 5 days of COVID?

It depends on a number of variables, including your symptoms’ seriousness, the kind of test used to identify COVID-19, and the advice of your doctor. Typically, the first few days after infection are the most contagious for COVID-19 patients, and they may continue to be contagious for up to 10 days following the onset of symptoms. It can vary from person to person, and some may continue to release the virus and be contagious for a longer time.