COVID-19 vaccine may provide relief for 'long haulers'

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- There could be possible relief for long haulers, the people who still have COVID symptoms months after recovering from the virus. Some are reporting coronavirus vaccines have stopped their symptoms.

Julianne Smith had COVID-19 back in November, but months later, she's still experiencing symptoms.

In the medical community, she is referred to as a long hauler.

"I'll do anything for this to get better. I just hope that it is not progressive," said Smith.

Smith says she thought she was fine, until several weeks ago, her taste and smell became distorted.

"It has just been a nonstop nauseating smell around food. There are foods I feel like I can't eat now. I am a little nervous to try other foods at this point," Smith said.

Her symptoms are sporadic, and foods she once enjoyed, like red onions, are unbearable.

"It was the foulest thing hands down, the foulest thing that I have ever tasted in my life. I can't compare it to anything," Smith said.

Dr. Gerard Criner, with Temple's Lewis Katz School of Medicine, says it appears sicker patients and those hospitalized typically have lingering COVID symptoms. But he admits it can happen to anyone who contracts the virus.

"There is a lot of unknown. The studies that have been published, report that symptoms can persist for 30 to 90 days," said Criner.

There is speculation that getting vaccinated may help relieve long hauler symptoms, but medical experts say more research needs to be done.

"That is the hope, vaccinations have been too brief to show that it prevents it, but if you prevent the disease, you should be able to prevent the long-term sequella from it," said Dr. Criner.

Doctors are still trying to understand if and how the vaccine may help, and long haulers, like Smith, say they will take any relief they can.

"Part of me is suspicious that this is just the beginning of a longer road, but I am going to try and stay hopeful," said Smith.

Medical experts say if you are having any symptoms after COVID, contact your doctor.
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