Can Covid Vaccines Help Long-Haulers Feel Better?

Some researchers think using the shots could help the thousand of long-haulers with lingering symptoms get some relief. Is it working?
Posted at 5:47 PM, Jun 29, 2021

28-year-old Aurora Gabriel’s been dealing with long-haul COVID symptoms for more than a year. 

"I would work out for twenty minutes and be wiped out. I feel like I wanted to like throw up or pass out," Aurora Gabriel, Covid-19 Long Hauler said.

Early research shows for some long-haulers, a COVID vaccine could ease symptoms. 

"About 40 percent of the recipients are feeling better, whereas about 15 percent of the people are feeling worse," Akiko Iwasaki, Immunobiology Professor, Yale University School of Medicine told Newsy.

Yale Immunobiology Professor Akiko Iwasaki’s team looked at vaccinated long-haulers six and twelve weeks post vaccine, looking at immune responses in blood and saliva. 

"It's possible that the vaccine is helping people because it's inducing a robust immune response that can clear the viral reservoir," she said.

"I do think that for people who have had long Covid from their acute infection, I think getting the vaccine is still a good idea. Protecting themselves from a repeat infection certainly seems reasonable,"Dr. Marc Sala, Pulmonologist, Northwestern Memorial Hospital said.

Doctors Newsy spoke with are waiting for more proof before telling patients the shot may lessen symptoms like shortness of breath or brain fog. Right now, all they can do is look at all the symptoms and patterns in patients and try drugs typically used for other illnesses for that.

"The data is still very, very preliminary and what the impact of the vaccine is on long COVID symptoms. Anecdotally, when I see individuals who are having both experiences, I have maybe 30 percent of people who say that they had no difference when they get the vaccine," Sala said.

Aurora Gabriel was one of those “no difference” folks. So far, the only thing helping her get better - time.  

"The worst of the worst already happened. So if I keep making a little by little that progress, well, then I have you know, I see like a good future, like I see like, OK, my health is in a good state," she said.