They went toe-to-toe with COVID-19 and months later, some are still dealing with the symptoms. Doctors call them long haulers and there is a growing belief that the vaccine can help alleviate some of those symptoms.
“With the long haulers, [symptoms] can go up to six months, even longer than that sometimes,” said William Tseng, M.D. “The brain fog is the biggest thing we hear. You can’t quite think straight, the muscle aches, the fatigue.”
Dr. Tseng is the vaccine lead for Kaiser Permanente in San Diego. He said roughly 20% of COVID-19 patients will have long-haul symptoms, and said the vaccine has helped upwards of 40% of those patients.
“We don’t know exactly why the vaccination helps, but perhaps it is really getting rid of the residual virus that you have,” offered Tseng.
The doctor cited studies from Yale and France that show the vaccine helped long haulers even if those patients developed their own antibodies.
“Vaccination after natural immunity is definitely warranted. It will protect you, two to three times as much as if you never got the vaccine,” he said.
Dr. Tseng also suggested that even former COVID-19 patients who no longer have symptoms should still get vaccinated.
“We know for a fact that if you get infected with COVID and you develop immunity, you still have a risk of re-infection," he explanied.