AUSTIN, Texas - Doctors are studying why some people who suffer from long-haul effects of coronavirus seem to find relief from their symptoms after getting a COVID-19 vaccine.
A small number of patients infected with COVID-19 suffer from lingering symptoms for several weeks or even months. Some have even claimed to have ongoing headaches, loss of smell or taste, and shortness of breath one year after their diagnosis.
"We don't know exactly why that is. We have seen patients who have extended similar symptoms after other viral infections," said Dr. Matthew Robinson, medical director for Infectious diseases at St. David's South Austin Medical Center.
Now, as more people are able to get a COVID vaccine, some early reports suggest the shot may be helpful for those considered to have "long COVID." "That actually receiving the vaccine may help with resolution of those symptoms," Robinson said.
Doctors said it's still being studied and they can't rule out a placebo effect. "Probably the easiest answer is it's too early to know for sure whether these two phenomena are related," said Robinson.
However, medical experts aren't ready to dismiss the possibility that the vaccine may be just the shot people need to knock out lingering coronavirus symptoms.
"Some of the speculation, and perhaps what I think may be going on is, is it represents a bit of a disregulated, or disorganized immune response, if you will. And, I suppose if that's true, that receipt of a vaccine for SARS CO-V-2 could sort of reset the immune system, if you will," Robinson said.
Whether that's confirmed or not, doctors said even those who have had COVID previously should get vaccinated.
"Generally, across the board, the vaccine would still be recommended. And I think this could potentially be another motivating factor for some who might be a little bit hesitant, or a bit on the fence, about it," said Robinson.