How Long Does COVID-19 Last for Unvaccinated Individuals?


Written by Adonis Hakk

May 23, 2022

COVID-19 Unvaccinated: Symptoms of the SARS-CoV-2 virus and its variants vary from one person to another. Various factors such as health history, lifestyle, age, and most importantly, vaccination status play a significant role in the duration and severity of the illness.

It is known that getting vaccinated and booster shots are the best way to prevent acquiring the virus or reduce the severity and potential long-lasting disease. But what if an individual who has yet to be fully jabbed gets infected with COVID-19? How long will the symptoms or illness related to the coronavirus last?

The UK Health Security Agency or UKHSA has said that individuals who had received a single vaccine dose or were unvaccinated are highly likely to develop long COVID symptoms compared to those who had been fully jabbed against COVID-19.

The UKHSA conducted a rapid review of the evidence, including 15 UK and international studies until January 2022. According to the review, the vaccine effectiveness against most post-covid symptoms was highest for people aged 60 and over while lowest in individuals aged 19 to 35.

Furthermore, 2% of the UK population have reported long symptoms of COVID, lasting for more than four weeks after the initial coronavirus infection. Such symptoms include fatigue, shortness of breath, and joint or muscle pain.

Also, out of eight studies that looked at the effect of the vaccinations administered before infection, six found that vaccinated people are less likely to develop long symptoms of coronavirus than unvaccinated individuals. Moreover, according to the University of Iowa Health Care, infections in unvaccinated people might be more severe and accompanied by typical COVID-19 symptoms.

Unvaccinated People at Risk of Reinfections

Researchers who have studied the genome of SARS-CoV-2 suggest that among unvaccinated individuals, reinfection can happen 3 months after contracting the virus. This can happen given that the virus is still circulating in the community.

Considering the threat of reinfection and severity of the disease for unvaccinated individuals who contracted the SARS-CoV-2 virus, it heightens the need for people to get vaccinated. Receiving a vaccine dose following a natural infection can produce an even more robust immune system response compared with vaccination without a history of COVID-19 infection.

Minimizing the Risk

According to studies, receiving a full course of COVID-19 vaccination is the best way to prevent people from developing severe symptoms when they get infected and can also reduce the longer-term impact. For some people, symptoms of long COVID can be resolved over time. But others can develop more severe and lingering health consequences which can disrupt their daily lives.

Taking extra precautions does not only protect oneself but also people who have higher chances of getting infected and those with immunodeficiencies. Aside from vaccination, it is advisable to still follow safety measures to minimize the chances of transmission. People who are unsure whether they are experiencing symptoms of flu or COVID can take a coronavirus test to know if they are infected or not. COVID-19 might not be going away anytime soon and following additional ways to protect oneself can allow people to resume normal life while co-existing with the virus.

Read More: What to Know About COVID Etiquette After England Ended Free Testing


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