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Kentucky is one of the top states with reported cases of long COVID


Kentucky was listed as one of the top states with reported cases of long COVID, USA TODAY reported last week. Here’s everything you need to know about long COVID.

What is long COVID?

Some people who have COVID-19 can experience long-term effects from their infection, known as long COVID or Post-COVID Conditions (PCC), according to the CDC.

Long COVID can include a wide range of ongoing health problems and/or lingering COVID symptoms. These conditions can last weeks, months or years.

Who experiences long COVID?

Anyone infected with COVID-19 can develop long COVID, but the condition is more common in people who had severe COVID-19 symptoms, as well as women, older adults, people with underlying health conditions and people who did not get vaccinated, according to the Washington state Health Department. People who get COVID-19 multiple times may also have more health risks including long COVID.

Kentucky has some of the highest rates of long COVID in the nation

According to Census data, the rate of adults in Kentucky reporting long COVID symptoms is 28.5%.

Does being vaccinated help prevent long COVID?

Yes; according to the CDC, people who are not vaccinated against COVID-19 and become infected may have a higher risk of developing long COVID compared to people who have been vaccinated.

Most Americans got their last shot more than a year ago, which means that when they catch COVID-19, the immunity they got from it will have faded. They won’t get as sick as a person who’s never been vaccinated or exposed to the virus at all, but they will get sicker than if they’d had a recent shot, experts say.

As of May 2023, about 70% of the U.S. population received their primary series of COVID-19 vaccines. But only 17% of the population has an updated booster shot, according to the CDC.

In Kentucky, over 2.5 million people have received their primary series (a little over half the population of Kentucky), but less than 2 million (40% of the population) are currently up-to-date, according to data from Kentucky Public Health.

The current COVID-19 vaccine doesn’t prevent all infections. But a vaccine almost certainly reduces the severity of illness, experts say, along with the risk for long COVID, in which symptoms linger for months or years after the initial infection is gone.

What are long COVID symptoms?

People who experience long COVID most commonly report:

  • Tiredness or fatigue that interferes with daily life
  • Symptoms that get worse after physical or mental effort (also known as “post-exertional malaise”)
  • Fever

Respiratory, neurological and digestive symptoms among other symptoms have been reported. The CDC has a list of all reported symptoms on their website.

Kentucky COVID resources

You can find the most up-to-date information regarding COVID cases in our state reported over the last seven days on the Kentucky Department for Public Health’s COVID website.

USA TODAY contributed to this article.

Katie Wiseman is a trending news intern at IndyStar. Contact her at Follow her on Twitter @itskatiewiseman.

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