By Team

MIAMI (CBSMiami) – It’s estimated millions of COVID patients battle lasting and debilitating health issues months and even one year after having the coronavirus. Now some of these so-called “long haulers” are reporting relief from their symptoms after receiving the COVID vaccine.

Kimberly Wills-Rinaldi said she hasn’t been the same since she was diagnosed with COVID in March 2020. The 58-year-old “long hauler” received her first COVID vaccine last month.

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“For me, this is a miracle,” she said. “The viral conjunctivitis, specifically in my right eye, is gone. The rash that was on my back and on my arms and my neck, that’s gone. The extreme, extreme fatigue episodes, those have gotten better, too.”

The group Survivor Corps polled 962 “long haulers” and found 46% said they remained the same after the vaccine, 14% felt worse, while 39% improved after the shot, from mild to full resolution of symptoms.

The poll caught the attention of Akiko Iwasaki, an immunobiologist at Yale School of Medicine.

“It wasn’t something I had expected to see,” she said.

She’s launching a study on people with long COVID, collecting blood and saliva samples to compare immune responses before and after “long haulers” get the vaccine to understand if it really helps.

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One long COVID theory is that pieces of the virus may hide in the body.

“The vaccine induces robust antibody and t-cell responses that can clear the viral reservoir or remnants that’s causing the inflammation, and that would be a permanent solution to long COVID,” Iwasaki said.

Another theory: Long COVID is driven by a hyper-active autoimmune response, and the vaccine may reduce those responses.

Judy Dodd suffered dizziness, headaches, and exhaustion for more than a year after she got COVID.

“A few weeks after I got the second vaccine, I was like, in my living room, like dancing or something. And my partner was like, I don’t think I’ve seen you dance in a year,” she said. “I forgot what it was like to, like, wake up in the morning and feel good.”

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Yale hopes to enroll at least 100 people with long COVID in its study to understand these phenomena and to see if the relief will last. Team