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COVID-19 long-haulers contemplate getting vaccinated

“I don't know what COVID is doing to my body but I also don't know what the vaccine will do to my body,” an Idaho long-hauler said.

BOISE, Idaho — On April 5, all Idahoans over the age of 16 will become eligible to receive a COVID-19 vaccine, including those who have had COVID-19 before and long haulers who still suffer from symptoms of the virus. As the vaccines become more available, many long-haulers are unsure or hesitant about getting vaccinated, thinking it could make their symptoms more severe

“I don't know what COVID is doing to my body but I also don't know what the vaccine will do to my body,” said Angie Nunes, a long-hauler from Meridian.

Nunes has suffered from COVID-19 symptoms for nine months. She said she experiences chest pain, shortness of breath, and nausea. Now, she wants more than anything to be back to her old self.

“There’s a part of me that feels like it made me sick or my symptoms worse, I don't know if my body could take that either,” she said. “The feeling like you are drowning or you can’t breathe, is really overwhelming for me to go through.”

Nunes said the idea of getting COVID again, is making her at least consider the vaccine.

“I have a huge fear of getting COVID again, I mean huge huge fear honestly I don’t know if my body would make it if I got it again," she said.

Dr. David Pate, former CEO at St. Luke’s Health System and is encouraging long haulers to get vaccinated.

“There is more and more evidence that previous COVID infection is going to be less likely to protect you from infection with some of the variants,” Dr. Pate said. “As bad as their long COVID is and whatever the vaccine might do to them, I have to imagine that getting re-infected with one of that variants would be worse.”

Dr. Pate said there have not been clinical studies completed that look at the effects of vaccines on long-haulers. However, he claimed that what he does know is promising.

“What we have seen so far is that some of the long-haulers in the first few days after the vaccine, like many people without long-haulers who get vaccinated, can have a rough go of things," he explained. “But even those individuals are telling us that those symptoms did go away in a matter of days and many are telling us that they feel significantly better in the long term.”

Dr. Pate said if it weren’t for the increased presence of COVID variants he would tell long-haulers it's okay to wait and see what happens in clinical trials. He said the trials could take months.

“I don’t think we have time and I think the risk of reinfection are far more concerning than getting the vaccine," he said.

Nunes said every day her decision to get vaccinated becomes more clear.

“Every day that goes by I am probably a little bit further towards yes just because I have so much fear in catching it again that I feel as if maybe it will be good for me to do it, not there yet,” she said.

RELATED: Idaho COVID-19 'long-haulers' want answers after months of suffering

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