© 2023 KUNR
An illustrated mountainscape with trees and a broadcast tower.
Serving Northern Nevada and the Eastern Sierra
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations
Programming update: Tune in to 1A from 11 a.m. to noon on weekdays, effective June 5.

For some, vaccines are providing long-COVID relief

A hand covered with a white latex glove holding a vaccine bottle with the words mRNA Vaccine written on it.
Spencer Davis/ Flicker Creative Commons
The updated mRNA vaccines have been available since fall 2022, and protect against both the original virus that causes COVID-19 and the Omicron variant BA.4 and BA.5.

Some patients have seen long-COVID symptom relief with mRNA vaccines.

Although the World Health Organization declared an end to the global COVID-19 emergency, and the United States ended its own public health emergency, the pandemic continues to affect local Nevadans.

The latest data showed that Washoe County continued to see 67 new cases weekly of COVID-19. But 63.3% of Washoe County residents are vaccinated, according to the Washoe County COVID-19 Dashboard.

Family and marriage therapist Jill Pellicciarini received two doses of the Covid vaccine, and recently a booster dose just a few months ago.

But before she could get the first shot on April 6, 2021 Pellicciarini came down with Covid on Jan. 6, 2021.

She has Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome and Post Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome–a condition that affects blood pressure–which she said made her COVID symptoms worse. Her symptoms lasted long after she tested negative two weeks later, Pellicciarini said

She had long-COVID for almost five months. She was miserable, and her conditions flared up in ways she hadn’t felt before, she said.

Pellicciarini said she had musculoskeletal issues beyond her normal chronic issues. She described joints popping out of place that normally wouldn’t. It felt like she was weaker in all of her tendons and connective tissue, she said.

“My body felt like it was in a fog. I have regular brain fog anyway from the Ehlers Danlos and the POTS but it was amplified,” she said.

That experience is pretty much par for the course, said Dr. Farah Madhani-Lovely, a pulmonologist who works with long-COVID patients at Renown’s Center for Advanced Medicine in Reno,

“So the propensity for long COVID is really based most, at least a lot of the data right now is based on the severity of disease you actually had with COVID and the actual COVID infection,” she said.

She also said that patients with existing conditions such as diabetes and sleep apnea- can have COVID “wake up” their symptoms further.

Pellicciarini said she finally got some relief in spring 2021 after receiving her second COVID vaccine.

“What happened was I took the second vaccine sometime in May and the next day I woke up and I just popped out of bed,” Pellicciarini said.

Dr. Akiko Iwasaki, a Yale medical researcher, has been looking into why vaccines make some people with long COVID feel better.

In an article in Yale Medicine, she said about 30 to 40 percent of long COVID patients report they no longer have the brain fog, G.I. issues, or shortness of breath after getting the mRNA vaccines.

But she also said not everyone with long COVID feels better after vaccination, saying that 10%-15% report feeling worse, and there are a number that report no change at all.

The new updated bivalent booster has been available since fall 2022, and differs from the original vaccines.

According to the CDC, the updated vaccines protect against both the original virus that causes COVID-19 and the Omicron variant BA.4 and BA.5.

In April, the Food and Drug Administration announced that the monovalent Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccines would no longer be authorized in the U.S.

As a note of disclosure, Renown is a financial supporter of KUNR.

The photo included in this story is licensed under Flickr Creative Commons.

Andrea has been a host at KUNR since 2022 and joined the news team as well. She enjoys working as a reporter focusing on health and under-served communities.
Related Content