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Idaho COVID-19 long haulers credit vaccine for helping alleviate symptoms

"Everybody tells me I look healthy again and the only thing I can come up with is it's because of the vaccine,” said one Idaho long hauler.

BOISE, Idaho — Many Idaho COVID-19 long haulers, or those who suffer from long-term effects of the virus, are wondering if getting vaccinated will help or hurt their symptoms.

A study from the UK was released on Monday and compared 44 vaccinated patients against 22 unvaccinated patients to see if vaccines were safe for long-haulers. Although the study has not been peer-reviewed, it found long haulers who were vaccinated did not see worsening of COVID-19 symptoms, mental well being or quality of life. Suggesting that those with prolonged coronavirus symptoms should receive vaccinations.

“I still have issues with my sinuses, I still cannot taste or smell, I still have anxiety at the time, not as severe but I still have anxiety and then about three weeks ago I started having neuropathy in my hands and in my legs,” Jessica Blaine of Idaho Falls said.

Blaine is a wife and mother of four, she tested positive for the virus in November. She still suffers from loss of taste and smell, fatigue, anxiety, and neuropathy. After trying what felt like everything to help with her symptoms, Blaine decided to get a COVID-19 vaccine.

“I kind of went in with the attitude of here goes nothing, what do I have to lose, I have tried everything else, you know, I had done the antibiotics, I had done the steroids and nothing was kicking it,” said Blaine.

About six hours after getting her first dose of the Moderna vaccine Blaine started to notice an irregular heart rate and a headache, she almost started to regret her decision.

“After about three days I was like, 'Hey, my sinuses aren't hurting as bad, my hands aren't quite as tingly,' the heartbeat went back to normal and so it gave me that little glimmer of hope,” she said. “So I’m hoping round two the second shot maybe it will finish it off.”

Shelly Thiel, also from Idaho Falls, had been suffering from COVID-19 symptoms since October. A month after receiving her second dose of the Pfizer vaccine, she started to feel like her old self again.

“Then it was kind of weird because things started clearing up, and I noticed I wasn't tired all the time, the brain fog,” Thiel said. “All of the sudden it was like I was back where I was before COVID even hit.”

Thiel was diagnosed with COVID-19 in November and then again in December. She lost 14 pounds in ten days and the virus brought her to the hospital twice. Although she was ill for a month after getting vaccinated, today she feels like herself once again.

“I could go a full hour on the treadmill hard, get off and lift for a bit and then go home and be bouncy enough to cook dinner which, that was kind of crazy,” said Thiel. "Everybody tells me I look healthy again and the only thing I can come up with is it's because of the vaccine.”

Both women credit the Facebook group Idaho COVID Long Haulers for helping them cope throughout the process and for being an open platform where long haulers can share their experiences.

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