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COVID-19 “long-haulers” seeing side effects of virus for potentially months after diagnosis


According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, individuals diagnosed with COVID-19 can see a range of long-term side effects. The CDC says these side effects can last for weeks or even months.

These side effects include:

  • Tiredness
  • Shortness of breath
  • Cough
  • Joint pain
  • Chest pain
  • Brain Fog
  • Depression
  • Muscle pain
  • Headache
  • Fever
  • Heart Palpitations
  • Rash
  • Hair Loss
  • Loss of Taste/Smell
  • Anxiety

St. Louis resident and teacher, Mary Grobe was first diagnosed with COVID-19 in mid-November and is still dealing with the long-term side effects of the virus.

"I'm unfortunately what you call a long-hauler," Grobe said. "I still have extreme exhaustion basically from the time I wake up in the morning until the time I go to bed, I'm tired. It doesn't matter how much sleep I get."

Grobe says she still suffers from other symptoms as well.

"I have what they call 'brain fog' which is frustrating, especially with the job that I do," Grobe said. "I [also] have hair loss which is an effect that they're seeing with a lot of people...when I brush my hair in the morning, it's a clump of hair that comes out which is kind of scary."

Grobe says she currently sees a specialist to help with her symptoms.

"I do still have issues with coughing and breathing," Grobe said. "I have a ton of vitamins I take everyday to try and help, [and have] different things for lungs that I have to use [like] different inhalers and things just to keep going."

Grobe says she believes she is slowing seeing a change in side effects but it is taking a long time.

"I do feel you know I'm getting better with each's just these tiny little baby steps," Grobe said.

She said her doctors aren't sure exactly how long these symptoms will last but continue to tell her to "be patient and just keep doing what you're doing...and it's going to get better."

While some COVID-19 long haulers have experienced some symptom relief with their coronavirus vaccine, Grobe said she hasn't seen much of a change since her first Pfizer vaccine in January. She said she didn't have any side effects to the vaccine.

"I'm not [having any improvement in my symptoms] but that's okay," Grobe said. "It'll get better [and] I'm just glad that it seems to be helping some people to alleviate their symptoms."

Grobe said her advice to give to anyone is to get the coronavirus vaccine as soon as it's available to avoid the same experience she is currently going through right now.

The CDC states the coronavirus vaccine is shown to be "highly effective at preventing COVID-19."

Both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccine require two doses while the Johnson & Johnson vaccine only requires one dose.

"Don't be picky; a shot in the arm is going to protect you," Grobe said. "Even if you do get sick, it'll still make it to where you're not going through what a lot of us have an you don't want that."

Grobe says since going through this experience has made her passionate about helping other people get vaccinated. She says she's helped over 900 people book vaccine appointments.

"It started as family and then [helping] friends and then they were like 'oh can I give so-and-so your number," Grobe said. "I just like that it's a positive that came out of all of this and that's what's motivated me to help people is what I went through."

According to the state vaccination dashboard, just over 2.65 million doses of the coronavirus vaccine have been given out to Missouri residents. Just under 300,000 doses were given out from March 25 to March 31.

The dashboard states Boone County is currently the second most vaccinated jurisdiction in the state with 32.3% of the population receiving at least one dose of the vaccine. The county sits behind Joplin County where exactly 33% of the population has received at least one dose of the vaccine.

According to the dashboard, Pulaski County currently ranks last in the state with 8.3% of the population receiving at least one dose of the vaccine.

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Meghan Drakas

Meghan joined ABC 17 News in January 2021.
The Penn State grad is from the Philadelphia suburbs where she interned with several local TV stations.


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