November 16, 2021 (New York, NY)—Today the “Voices of Long COVID” campaign launched in order to increase public awareness of Long COVID and increase vaccine uptake, particularly among people ages 18-29. As the pandemic approaches its two-year anniversary, more than 30% of American adults remain unvaccinated. Resolve to Save Lives (RTSL), an initiative of Vital Strategies, unveiled the “Voices of Long COVID” campaign featuring testimonials from a diverse group of people ages 18-29 who are suffering from long-term complications of COVID-19 infection. The initiative follows RTSL’s recent national survey, which found that nearly a third of American adults are unaware of Long COVID, and that long-hauler stories can motivate 40% of unvaccinated people to consider getting a COVID-19 vaccine.
“The brave young adults featured in the campaign are sharing their reality in order to help others avoid the harms of COVID infection,” said Dr. Tom Frieden, President and CEO of Resolve to Save Lives. “Thousands of Americans struggle with Long COVID every day. Their stories are important reminders that vaccination is our best tool to prevent this potentially life-altering condition.”
The campaign shows the real-life stories of three COVID long-haulers who have been battling debilitating post-COVID health problems over the past year:
- Katelyn Van Dyke, a 20-year-old who got COVID-19 in November 2020 and now has trouble breathing when walking and memory loss.
- Rob Smith, a 22-year-old who used to run five miles a day and now struggles to climb stairs, maintain a healthy social life and manage the uncertainty of his COVID-19 recovery due to ongoing fatigue and brain fog. He shares his story in Spanish and English.
- Isaiah Smith, a 26-year-old U.S. Air Force veteran, part-time student and essential worker who became infected with COVID-19 in October 2020 and now experiences extreme nausea, chest pain, shortness of breath, dizziness upon standing, heart palpitations and challenges with comprehension.
The patients spotlighted in the campaign want to warn others about the risks of being unvaccinated.
“Long COVID is real, and the struggle goes beyond what you can see,” Van Dyke said. “We don’t know enough about this condition yet, and there’s a good chance all of us know at least one person who is suffering from this. The best way to prevent COVID-19 and long COVID is to get vaccinated.”
“I’ve learned over the course of the past year that you should always value your personal health—this is especially needed among people who are refusing to get vaccinated,” said Rob Smith. “I’ve been trying to educate people about the long-term effects of COVID and the safety of the vaccine. The trade-off between COVID and the vaccine is not even close.”
Isaiah Smith is sharing his long COVID story “because I don’t want anyone else to experience what I’m going through.” He noted that some of his friends are vaccine-hesitant. “I tell them to talk to their doctor about getting the vaccine. They should avoid getting COVID at all costs because at the end of the day, they’re rolling the dice on what happens afterwards—they have no idea what’s going to happen.”
Campaign ads will be promoted in cities and states with low vaccination rates—including Alabama, Indiana, Louisiana, Missouri, Montana, North Carolina, Ohio and Tennessee—to educate people about Long COVID and COVID-19 vaccination resources. RTSL is offering a full suite of campaign media assets to state and local health departments and other key stakeholders to customize and promote locally. Initial campaign partners include:
- Louisiana Department of Health
- Missouri Department of Health & Senior Services
- West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources
- Franklin County Public Health (Ohio)
- Marion County Public Health Department (Indiana)
- Wake County Public Health (North Carolina)
To learn more about the campaign, visit VoicesOfLongCovid.org.
Click here to access the full In-Depth Science Review on Long COVID.
About Resolve to Save Lives
Resolve to Save Lives, an initiative of the global health organization Vital Strategies, focuses on preventing deaths from cardiovascular disease and preventing epidemics. It is led by Dr. Tom Frieden, former director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. To find out more, visit: https://www.resolvetosavelives.org or Twitter @ResolveTSL.
About Vital Strategies
Vital Strategies is a global health organization that believes every person should be protected by a strong public health system. We work with governments and civil society in 73 countries to design and implement evidence-based strategies that tackle their most pressing public health problems. Our goal is to see governments adopt promising interventions at scale as rapidly as possible. To find out more, please visit www.vitalstrategies.org or Twitter @VitalStrat.
Steven Chlapecka, Resolve to Save Lives, [email protected], +1.917.623.0246
Christina Honeysett, Vital Strategies: [email protected]; +1.914.424.3356