People fully vaccinated against Covid-19 are around half as likely to develop long Covid symptoms as unvaccinated people or those who had only received one vaccine dose, research has found.
The UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA)’s review of literature, including 15 UK and international studies up to January 2022, also found people vaccinated after being infected with Covid reported their post-Covid symptoms lasting for a shorter time than for unvaccinated people.
It also found vaccine effectiveness against most post-Covid symptoms in adults was highest in people aged 60 years and over, and lowest for younger participants aged 19 to 35.
People who received two doses of a Covid vaccine were less likely to develop long Covid symptoms and experience symptoms for a shorter time, compared with those unvaccinated, it concluded.
May reduce long-term impact
Of the eight studies looking at the effects of vaccination before infection, most suggested vaccinated people (whether one or two doses) were less likely to develop symptoms of long Covid than unvaccinated people, at both four weeks and six months after infection.
The remaining studies look at the effects of vaccination people who already had long Covid symptoms. This includes three that found more people with Covid reported an improvement in their symptoms after vaccination, either immediately or over several weeks.
Another three studies, which looked at unvaccinated people who developed long Covid, suggested people who those who went onto receive a vaccination were less likely to report long Covid symptoms after vaccination than people who remained unvaccinated over the same period.
And a further study suggested people with Covid who were vaccinated sooner after diagnosis were much less likely to report long Covid symptoms than people vaccinated later after diagnosis.
‘Vaccination is best protection’
Dr Mary Ramsey, head of immunisation at UKHSA, said the studies ‘add to the potential benefits’ of getting fully vaccinated against Covid. She urged anyone experiencing post-Covid symptoms for longer than four weeks after infection to contact their GP.
She added: ‘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.’
Around 2% of the UK population have reported symptoms of long Covid (or ‘post-Covid syndrome’), which can last for more than four weeks after initial infection. The most common symptoms are fatigue, shortness of breath, and muscle or joint pain.