Young people should get vaccinated to avoid the long-term consequences of Covid-19, the director of the National Institutes of Health said Wednesday.
“One critical way to prevent long Covid is to prevent Covid itself,” NIH director Dr. Francis Collins said at a House Energy and Commerce subcommittee hearing. “Even for young people who consider their risk of severe Covid to be low, the long-term consequences can be quite serious. So long Covid represents one more reason to encourage everyone age 16 and over to get vaccinated as quickly as possible.”
Long-lasting symptoms can develop in people who have even mild cases of Covid-19.
A study by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention last summer showed that among 18- to 34-year-olds, 1 in 5 who tested positive for Covid-19 had not fully recovered within three weeks.
About 11-15% of children infected with Covid-19 can go on to develop long Covid, Collins added.
The risks of developing a long-term illness in the wake of Covid-19 infection “haven’t been appreciated by young people who continue to view this as an illness they don’t have to worry about too much,” Collins said.