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Doctors Says Risk of Long-Haul COVID For the Vaccinated is ‘Very Small’

Coronavirus infections leading to long-haul Covid-19 in fully vaccinated people are probably very rare, experts say. But because the vaccines have been proven to dramatically cut the risk of Covid-19 infection in general, the shots remain “one of the best ways to lower your risk of getting post-Covid syndrome, according to those same experts. The Covid-19 vaccines have been shown to significantly reduce infections, as well as the risk of severe consequences of the illness, including hospitalization and death. That means that if a fully vaccinated person does become infected, the illness is much more likely to be mild.

It is estimated that up to a third of Covid-19 cases may result in long-term illness. That suggests that of the nearly 34 million people diagnosed with Covid-19 in the United States, about 11 million may endure the consequences of the illness for months or years. And with the United States currently experiencing what the CDC has dubbed a “pandemic of the unvaccinated“, the country may see a significant rise in those numbers by the end of the summer.

For many Covid-19 long-haulers, it was a mild infection that set off their lingering symptoms, leaving many to wonder whether a mild breakthrough case in someone who is fully vaccinated could do the same. It is theoretically possible, experts say, for that to occur. But doctors treating Covid-19 patients across the country contend that it doesn’t appear to be a significant risk.

Breakthrough infections resulting in long Covid-19 are “quite rare,” said Dr. Greg Vanichkachorn, an occupational medicine specialist who works with post-Covid-19 syndrome patients at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota.

Vanichkachorn’s observation, while based only on what he’s seen in the clinic, is echoed at other post-Covid-19 clinics. But for many Covid-19 long-haulers, it was a mild infection that set off their lingering symptoms, leaving many to wonder whether a mild breakthrough case in someone who is fully vaccinated could do the same. Lyons cautioned that the lack of observed post-Covid-19 cases in vaccinated people “just might be a lag time issue.” Because Covid-19 vaccinations started rolling out in larger numbers within the past three to four months, it is possible that not enough time has passed to identify long-haul patients following their vaccinations.

Because the vaccines have been proven to dramatically cut the risk of Covid-19 infection in general, the shots remain “one of the best ways to lower your risk of getting post-Covid syndrome,” Vanichkachorn said. But plenty of Americans will still live with some aftereffects.

“While everyone else is moving on with life,” Longo said, the long-haulers “are still stuck in a rut struggling with this virus.”



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