Young people with long Covid urge others to get vaccinated

23 August 2021, 08:10

Megan Higgins, 25, cannot walk around the shops without feeling exhausted.
Megan Higgins, 25, cannot walk around the shops without feeling exhausted. Picture: Alamy

By Elizabeth Haigh

Young people are being urged to get their vaccine in a new NHS video featuring others who are suffering with long Covid after contracting the virus.

Three individuals in their 20s and 30s, who were healthy prior to catching Covid-19, described the impact of long Covid on their everyday lives.

Those aged 18 to 34 now make up more than one in five of those admitted to hospital with coronavirus, the NHS has said.

Quincy Dwamena, who is a 31-year-old support worker, described himself in the video as a "healthy young guy" who "went to the gym often".

He explains that he delayed getting the vaccine, but subsequently caught the virus and became seriously ill.

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Read more: All England's 16 and 17-year-olds to be offered jab by 23 August - Sajid Javid

He said: "I ended up being hospitalised and thought I was going to die.

"My advice is to get the vaccine: don't put yourself and others at risk, I wish I'd got mine as soon as it was offered."

Ella Harwood, an illustrator from London, said: "I'm young and fit but I was bed-bound for seven months with Covid-19."Before I caught the virus, I was super active and had no health concerns, but I now suffer with asthma which I didn't have before and a number of allergies.

"I fear I'll never be the same again but I'm making progress and I'm very grateful that I'm still alive."

Both Miss Harwood, 23, and Megan Higgins, 25, were previously healthy and led active lives, but now suffer from extreme fatigue due to long Covid.

Miss Higgins, a special needs tutor from London, said: "It's now been eight months since I tested positive, and I can't even walk around the shops without getting exhausted.

"Long Covid is debilitating, so please, get vaccinated. I wouldn't want anyone else to go through what I have."

Symptoms of long Covid have been reported to last for many months after contracting the virus. They include extreme fatigue, insomnia, shortness of breath, brain fog and chest pains.

The release of the NHS video comes as 16 and 17-year-olds in England can now book their first doses. Those aged 12-15 who are "at-risk" can also book a vaccine before returning to school in September.

According to the Office for National Statistics, two vaccine doses halves the risk of having symptoms of the virus for longer than 28 days.

Public Health England figures show people aged between 16 and 29 are the most likely to suffer from long Covid, but that this group also have a below-average vaccine uptake rate - particularly in London.

Read more: Covid vaccines mandatory for care home staff from November 11

NHS England has now launched an online walk-in site finder to help people locate their nearest GP-led vaccine centre from the 800 available around the country.

The NHS video also features an emergency doctor, Dr Emeka Okorocha, who explained that most of the young people being hospitalised by coronavirus are unvaccinated.

He said: "As an A&E doctor, I've seen a lot during the pandemic. But nothing has shaken me like the sight of young, otherwise healthy adults being rushed into our hospitals with Covid-19.

"As well as their age, many of them have one other thing in common - they are unvaccinated."

Health Secretary Sajid Javid said: "I encourage everyone to come forward for both their jabs as quickly as possible as vaccines are the best way to protect yourself and your loved ones from serious illness."

A total of 89,070,370 vaccine doses have been administered in the UK: 47,573,794 first doses and 41,496,576 second doses.