Vaccines against COVID effectively lower rates of infection, transmission, hospitalization, and death. However, for some people, following infection, symptoms may continue beyond the acute phase. If these persist beyond 12 weeks, this is called “long COVID.” Common symptoms of long COVID include fatigue, shortness of breath, and cognitive impairment, often with periods of wellness followed by relapse. Early research suggests that long COVID is less common after breakthrough infections among vaccinated individuals, but the impact of vaccination on pre-existing long COVID symptoms has been unclear. There have been concerns that people with long COVID may be anxious about getting additional vaccinations.

Vaccination is associated with fewer long COVID symptoms

In a new study from the United Kingdom, researchers looked at the association between COVID vaccination and symptoms in adults infected with the virus before vaccination among 28,356 participants aged 18 to 69. The average age of participants was 46 years, 56% were women, and 89% were White. Researchers monitored participants for an average of 141 days from the first vaccination and 67 days from the second vaccination. About one in four (24%) reported long COVID symptoms at least once during follow-up. A first vaccine dose was associated with an initial 12.8% decrease in the risk of long COVID. A second dose was associated with an 8.8% decrease, with a subsequent decrease of 0.8% per week.

There was no evidence of differences by sociodemographic characteristics, health factors, vaccine type, or duration from infection to vaccination.

These findings suggest that vaccination lowers the chances of getting long COVID, and suggests sustained improvement after a second dose.


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