Young 'long-haulers' featured in ad campaign targeted at unvaccinated

A new ad campaign aims to compel more people to get vaccinated against COVID-19 by raising awareness of the impact of "long" COVID-19 on some who have contracted the disease.

"Voices of long COVID" features testimonies from "long-haulers" between the ages of 18 and 29 in which they discuss a multitude of issues they've faced after testing positive for the coronavirus, including memory loss, brain fog and chronic fatigue.

The website focuses on conveying the message that some people who developed COVID-19 early in the pandemic "still have symptoms of long COVID, more than a year after their initial infection."

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"Anyone who has had COVID-19 can develop long COVID, including people who have had mild or asymptomatic COVID-19. Long COVID symptoms can include fatigue, shortness of breath, 'brain fog,' gastrointestinal problems and loss of taste and smell, among many others," the website said.

"Tens of thousands of Americans are struggling to manage Long COVID while doctors and medical researchers are learning more about the condition and how to treat it," it added.

The ad campaign was launched by a New York-based not-for-profit organization, 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,” said Tom Frieden, president and CEO of Resolve to Save Lives, in a statement.

Resolve to Save Lives told The Hill that one of the reasons its campaign chose to focus on young adults was because its recent national survey found that "the long COVID patient testimonial approach resonates best among the 18-29 age group."

"Younger people remain some of the least-vaccinated people in the US, as many believe their youth and stronger immune systems will leave them unaffected by the virus compared to older adults. A survey by the Kaiser Family Foundation found that 9 percent of adults aged 18-29 would 'Wait and see' before getting vaccinated, compared to less than 5 percent in other age categories. Similarly, 8 percent in the 18-29 category said they would get vaccinated 'Only if required' compared to less than 4 percent in all other age groups," Erin Sykes, the vice president of communications at Resolve to Save Lives, said in a statement to The Hill.

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According to The Washington Post, Resolve to Save Lives is working with health officials to promote the ad campaign in states with low vaccination rates, including Alabama, Indiana, Louisiana, Missouri, Montana, North Carolina, Ohio and Tennessee.

Only about 50 percent of the population of those states, collectively, is vaccinated, according to the Post.

Data from the CDC shows that nearly one-third of the total American population remains unvaccinated, and that COVID-19 cases in the U.S. are up nearly 27 percent in the last three weeks after steadily increasing since mid-October.

The Biden administration in September admonished unvaccinated Americans and some elected officials for exacerbating the coronavirus pandemic.

"We’ve been patient but our patience is wearing thin and your refusal has cost all of us,” he said. “So please, do the right thing.”

— Updated at 3:47 p.m.