NEW ORLEANS — Some COVID-19 long-haulers are reporting relief in symptoms after getting vaccinated.
Medical professionals are trying to figure out what that is, and if one of the three vaccines is responsible.
COVID-19 can be relentless, especially for about 10% of people who are known as "long-haulers."
"Most people recover following their COVID disease within a couple of weeks," said LSUHSC School of Medicine, Dr. Benjamin Springgate. "Some continue to have symptoms for weeks or months afterwards that could include things like fatigue, cough, chest tightness, arthritis-type pains. We're learning more about this presently, certainly it appears to be a number that is more than what we want it to be."
Dr. Springgate says work is being done to understand why it happens and what may help. However, as professionals look for answers, some battling through it have reported feeling relief by way of vaccination.
"There's not a lot of information about it so far," he said. "But what we are seeing, some people report if they've had what are described as long-haul symptoms, after getting their first shot they start to feel some resolution of those symptoms."
"Across the nation we're saying about 1/3 of patients may have improvement of symptoms after getting the vaccine," Dr. Michele Longo said.
Dr. Longo runs a COVID-19 clinic at Tulane specifically for long-haulers. She says nothing has been proven yet, and not everyone vaccinated experiences that relief. However, she has heard from patients whose symptoms have subsided since rolling up their sleeve.
"The boost that the vaccine gives may help in some patients," she said. "So, that is one of the questions that is something we're trying to understand."
There are also questions about if a particular vaccine is better for long-haulers. Dr. Longo says all three are beneficial.
"So right now, I have no scientific data that supports getting one over the other," she said. "I can tell you in the UK they did a small study of about 40 people and they compared an MRNA vaccine (Pfizer) with AstraZeneca's vaccine and they didn't see any difference in terms of its potential to cause any improvement or worsening of symptoms among people with long-COVID."
"People should be vaccinated," Dr. Springgate said. "The benefits of getting that immunity are worthwhile and people should get it if they have had the virus previously."
So whichever vaccine is given, doctors say get it. It may or may not make a long-haulers symptoms better, but evidence shows it's unlikely it'll make them worse.
The Tulane Neurology Post COVID Care Clinic is treating adults 18 years old and up who have tested positive for COVID-19 and have lingering symptoms.
For more information, the clinic is located at 4224 Houma Boulevard, Suite 540, Metairie, LA, 70006. You can also call 504-503-7001.