A longitudinal observational study, published as a letter in JAMA, found that 2 or 3 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine reduced the rate of long COVID among Italian health care workers.
Individuals who survived COVID-19 infection are at risk for long-lasting symptoms. Previous research has found that vaccination reduced the rate of long COVID by 15% among older veterans in the United States. This study, however, was overrepresented by men.
To evaluate the role of vaccination in a more female population, data from health care workers at 9 Italian health care facilities were evaluated for long COVID on the basis of BNT162b2 vaccination status. Between February and April 2022, participants (N=739) responded to a questionnaire about demographics, comorbidities, SARS-CoV-2 symptoms, and vaccination status. Long COVID was defined as 1 or more SARS-CoV-2-related symptom(s) lingering for more than 4 weeks.
The participants that did (31.0%) and did not (69.0%) have long COVID were aged mean 44.3 (standard deviation [SD], 10.7) and 41.2 (SD, 11.4) years (P <.001) and body mass index (BMI) was 24.3 (SD, 4.3) and 23.5 (SD, 3.7) kg/m2 (P =.01), respectively. Among the 551 women, 32.7% had long COVID compared with 26.1% of the 188 men.
Long COVID varied across waves, in which it was more common in the first (48.1%) and second (35.9%) waves than the third wave (16.5%). Fewer individuals who had received 3 (16.0%) or 2 (17.4%) doses of vaccine had long COVID compared with 1 dose (30.0%) or unvaccinated status (41.8%).
Long COVID was related with allergies (odds ratio [OR], 1.50; 95% CI, 1.06-2.11; P=.02), number of comorbidities (OR, 1.32; 95% CI, 1.04-1.68; P=.03), and age (OR, 1.23; 95% CI, 1.01-1.49; P=.04). Long COVID was less likely among individuals who received 3 vaccine doses (OR, 0.16; 95% CI, 0.03-0.84; P=.03), 2 vaccine doses (OR, 0.25; 95% CI, 0.07-0.87; P=. 03), and men (OR, 0.65; 95% CI, 0.44-0.98; P = .04).
This study was limited by the reliance on self-reported data.
The letter authors concluded that “… 2 or 3 doses of vaccine, compared with no vaccination, were associated with lower long COVID prevalence.”
Disclosure: Multiple authors declared affiliations with industry. Please refer to the original article for a full list of disclosures.
Azzolini E, Levi R, Sarti R, et al. Association between BNT162b2 vaccination and long COVID after infections not requiring hospitalization in health care workers. JAMA. Published online July 1, 2022. doi:10.1001/jama.2022.11691