COVID-19 ‘long haulers’ have more than physical side effects, encourage vaccination


KANSAS CITY, Mo. — COVID-19 “long haulers” feel the effects of the virus months after it leaves their system. With vaccinations in the metro stalling, and hospitals full, long haulers are saying get the vaccine. Many of them are struggling not only physically, but also long-lasting effects on their mental health and finances.

Friday, the University of Kansas Health System reported 18 of their patients were on ventilators, and more than double that number were fighting the virus inside their hospital. Many of them may experience problems much longer than it takes to quarantine.

For nearly 30 years, nothing could keep Mary Katelyn Cirese away from horses. Especially her horse Weebok.

“It’s definitely a passion. It’s almost like an addiction,” Cirese said.

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However, in November, COVID-19 did. She came down with it and wasn’t able to see her horse for two weeks.

“I just physically couldn’t do anything. Just getting up to take the dog outside was really hard and exhausting,” Cirese said.

After those two weeks she felt a lot better, but realized things weren’t going back to normal.

“Every day. Almost all day. It’s basically anytime I eat, anytime I drink. That’s not something I had prior to it, so I have to take a medication three to four times a day just to try to subdue the nausea. It’s been nine months now and I’m still dealing with it, and it’s not letting up at all,” Cirese said.

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For Amanda Finley, she also has long term effects from COVID-19, but hers aren’t all physical.

“It’s not life or death. There is something in between,” Finley said.

She started the COVID-19 Long-Haulers Discussion Group on Facebook which now has more than 13,000 members.

“It’s a nightmare. A lot of us are homeless. We aren’t able to work. It takes forever to get on disability. People are going without food. They’re going without medications. They’re rationing their meds because they can’t afford anything,” Finley said.

Both women say they wish people who don’t want to get the vaccine understood what it feels like to live with long-term effects.

“We need everyone to have more love and care and think about others too,” Cirese said.

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They say because getting sick can take you away from what you love the most.

Over the past few weeks of data in the metro, Fridays tend to be a big day for people to get vaccinated. Saturdays and Sundays are pretty low, so if you are looking for an appointment over the weekend may be a good day to do it.


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