COVID-19 'long-hauler' and Tacoma nurse's decision on vaccine

For a Tacoma woman, she now considers herself a "long-hauler" after contracting COVID-19 last year and continues to suffer long-term effects of the virus. 

Tammy Edwards said she contracted COVID-19 at work about 9 months ago, and said the disease also spread to her husband who almost died from the virus. Edwards said she still suffers from the long-term effects of COVID-19, but managed to return to work at Tacoma General Hospital in the fall.

"April 6 was when I became ill. It was like a ton of bricks. I had fevers, aches a really bad headache. You truly feel like you're poisoned," said Edwards of having COVID-19.

Edwards said she still suffers from joint pain, muscle pain, ringing in her ears, and fatigue nine months after contracting coronavirus.

As a nurse, Edwards said she is data-driven and pro-vaccine, and said she gets the flu shot every year. However, when it came time to get the COVID-19 vaccine, she took her long-hauler symptoms into consideration.

"We were given the opportunity to get the vaccine, I declined it. For me, there just isn’t enough data. I’m a long-hauler, and the testing phase wasn’t done on people like myself. Maybe in the near future, when there’s more data, I’ll go ahead and get the vaccination."

While Edwards is choosing to opt-out of the vaccination, for now, she does recommend the vaccine to others.

"I think people should get it and trust in the scientists," said Edwards. "I really want people to be safe and protect themselves."

"We know protection from the disease can last three months or longer, so if you want to delay vaccination up to 90 days you can talk to your healthcare provider, but there isn’t any risk of getting Covid vaccine after you’ve had Covid disease," said Michele Roberts, Assistant Secretary of DOH Prevention and Community Health Division.

The Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) recommends anyone who has had COVID-19 to get the vaccine.

According to the Washington State Department of Health (DOH):

  • People who were recently infected with COVID-19 can choose to wait 90 days after their illness before getting vaccinated. Data suggests that it may be uncommon to get reinfected with COVID-19 in the 90 days after infection.
  • People who currently have COVID-19 should wait to get vaccinated until they feel better and their isolation period is finished, if possible.
  • People who were recently exposed to COVID-19 should also wait to get the vaccine until after their quarantine period, if they can safely quarantine away from other people. If there is a high risk they could infect others, they may be vaccinated during their quarantine period to prevent spreading the disease.