Long Covid is not really just Covid-19 vaccination side effects

29 November 2022
What was claimed

Long Covid is just a side effect of Covid-19 vaccinations.

Our verdict

This is not true. Unvaccinated people can also get long Covid, and studies suggest they are at higher risk of doing so.

A Facebook post which claims that those suffering from long Covid are actually suffering from side effects of Covid-19 vaccinations is false. 

The post reads: “Long Dovic [sic] effects are really Long Dovic [sic] Jab Effects.” Although the post substitutes Covid for “Dovic”, its implication is clear.

This would suggest that people who suffer from long Covid are just suffering from vaccine side effects. We know this is false, as cases of long Covid were being identified prior to the start of the vaccination programme.

The NHS says long Covid, also known as post-Covid syndrome, is defined as:

  • ongoing symptomatic Covid-19: signs and symptoms of Covid-19 from four to 12 weeks
  • post Covid-19 syndrome: signs and symptoms that develop during or after Covid-19 and continue for more than 12 weeks and are not explained by an alternative diagnosis.

Common symptoms include fatigue, shortness of breath and muscle aches. 

In October 2020, the National Institute for Health and Care Research (NIHR) published a study on the experiences of people living with ongoing symptoms after contracting Covid-19. The first vaccine for Covid-19 was not administered until two months later

According to the latest data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS), around 2.1 million people in the UK (3.3% of the population) self-reported experiencing long Covid for more than four weeks after a confirmed or suspected coronavirus infection. 

A 2022 review by the UK Health Security Agency concluded that “people who received 2 doses of a vaccine against Covid-19 were less likely to develop long Covid symptoms or experience symptoms for a shorter time, compared with those unvaccinated.”

It added: “Individuals who received a vaccination after being infected with Covid-19 also reported that the duration of post-Covid symptoms was less than for those who were unvaccinated. Two doses of the Covid-19 vaccination provide a high level of protection against long COVID, compared to one dose or no doses.”

The ONS has also published research showing that, in a sample of UK adults aged 18 to 69-years-old, receiving a second dose of vaccine at least two weeks before a confirmed Covid infection was associated with a 41% decrease in the odds of self-reported long Covid at least 12 weeks later.

Covid-19 vaccines can cause a range of side effects but the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) says that “most of these are mild and short-term, and not everyone gets them.”

Additionally the MHRA has identified possible links between the vaccines and more severe side effects, for example noting there is a likely link between vaccinations and rare cases of sometimes fatal blood clotting.

We have written before about misinformation surrounding long Covid and the safety of Covid-19 vaccines and claimed side effects

Full Fact fights bad information

Bad information ruins lives. It promotes hate, damages people’s health, and hurts democracy. You deserve better.