Long Covid: vaccinated people less likely to develop long-term coronavirus symptoms than unjabbed, UKHSA finds

People who have had one or more vaccine doses are less likely to develop long Covid symptoms after infection compared with those who are unvaccinated

Watch more of our videos on Shots!
and live on Freeview channel 276
Visit Shots! now

People who have been vaccinated against Covid-19 are less likely to develop long Covid, the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) has found.

A new review looked at 15 national and international studies that were undertaken until January 2022.

Vaccinated people are less likely to develop long Covid symptoms after infection (Composite: Kim Mogg / JPIMedia)Vaccinated people are less likely to develop long Covid symptoms after infection (Composite: Kim Mogg / JPIMedia)
Vaccinated people are less likely to develop long Covid symptoms after infection (Composite: Kim Mogg / JPIMedia)

The UKHSA found an estimated 2% of the UK population had reported symptoms of long Covid, or post-Covid syndrome, which can last for more than four weeks after their initial infection.

The three most common symptoms are fatigue, shortness of breath and muscle or joint pain.

How do vaccines affect long Covid?

Eight of the studies in the review looked at the effect of vaccinations given before infection.

Findings from most of these studies suggest that vaccinated people (one or two doses) are less likely to develop symptoms of long Covid after infection, or experience symptoms for a shorter time, compared with those who are unvaccinated.

People with Covid-19 who received two doses of the Pfizer, AstraZeneca, or Moderna vaccines, or one dose of the Janssen vaccine, were about half as likely as people who received one dose or were unvaccinated to develop coronavirus symptoms lasting more than 28 days.

Vaccine effectiveness against most post-Covid symptoms in adults was highest in people aged 60 years and over, and lowest for younger people aged between 19 and 35.

The remaining studies looked at the effects of vaccination among people who already had long Covid symptoms.

Three studies specifically compared long Covid symptoms before and after vaccination and found more people with Covid-19 reported an improvement in symptoms after vaccination, either immediately or over several weeks.

Another three studies of unvaccinated people with long Covid compared ongoing symptoms in those who either went on to get a jab or remained unvaccinated.

These studies found that those who did get vaccinated were less likely to report long Covid symptoms after their jab compared with those who remained unvaccinated over the same period.

Dr Mary Ramsay, Head of Immunisation at UKHSA, said: “These studies add to the potential benefits of receiving a full course of the Covid-19 vaccination.

Vaccination is the best way to protect yourself from serious symptoms when you get infected and may also help to reduce the longer-term impact.

“For most people symptoms of long Covid are short-lived and resolve overtime. But for some, symptoms can be more severe and disrupting to their daily lives.

“If you’re experiencing unusual symptoms particularly for longer than four weeks after infection, you should consider contacting your GP.”

The review concluded that two doses of a Covid-19 vaccination provides the highest level of protection against long Covid and those who are double jabbed are less likely to develop long-term symptoms, or will experience symptoms for a shorter time.

People who are vaccinated after contracting Covid-19 also reported a shorter duration of symptoms compared to those who are unvaccinated.

What are the symptoms of long Covid?

Most people who are infected with Covid-19 will start to feel better within a few days or weeks, but in some cases recovery can take much longer.

Anyone who has symptoms that persist for longer than 12 weeks after their initial infection is considered to have long Covid.

Long-term symptoms can vary from person to person and encompass a wide range of ongoing health problems.

Some of the most common symptoms include:

  • Extreme tiredness (fatigue)
  • Shortness of breath
  • Chest pain
  • Brain fog
  • Heart palpitations
  • Insomnia
  • Dizziness
  • Joint and muscle pain
  • Nausea
  • Abdominal pains
  • Depression and anxiety

Anyone who is concerned about symptoms four weeks or more after having coronavirus should contact their GP and ask about long Covid.

Patients should be offered an initial consultation which will help determine any further assessments or care that is needed.

More information on recovery from coronavirus can be found on the Your COVID Recovery website.

A message from the editor:

Thank you for reading. NationalWorld is a new national news brand, produced by a team of journalists, editors, video producers and designers who live and work across the UK. Find out more about who’s who in the team, and our editorial values. We want to start a community among our readers, so please follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, and keep the conversation going. You can also sign up to our newsletters and get a curated selection of our best reads to your inbox every day.