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The long-term effects of COVID-19 infection

Getting your health back on track

Nearly 33 million Americans External Site have been diagnosed with and recovered from COVID-19, as of May 11, 2021. Whether you had a mild case or spent weeks battling the illness, chances are you still have some questions about your recovery. Am I immune? Do I need the COVID vaccine? What lingering symptoms should I look out for?

We’ll help you learn more about the after-effects of COVID, what to look out for, and when to get help.

COVID-19 antibodies after infection

Your immune system develops antibodies to help fight illnesses. That way, if you get the illness again, your body can protect itself. So, if you were diagnosed with COVID, you likely have some antibodies built up. But this does not mean you are immune indefinitely.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is quick to caution that it is still unknown for how long and to what extent these antibodies could protect you External Site, so it’s important to still take these steps to protect yourself and others:

Do I still need the vaccine if I've already had COVID-19?

Yes! As with all immunizations, always talk to your doctor about any questions you have regarding the vaccine and your health. But, the CDC recommends getting vaccinated External Site even if you’ve had COVID.

That’s because it’s hard to know what your specific immune response was when you had COVID. Plus, there are new COVID variants External Site of the virus you may not have been exposed to yet. With the vaccines, it’s easier to generate a more uniform immune response and more dependable protection to ward off some of the more severe symptoms.

Long-term symptoms of COVID-19

You are not alone if you’ve felt “off” since you recovered from COVID. While some people are left with no symptoms at all, others deal with long-term symptoms that range from simple annoyances to debilitating pain. "Long-haulers," are people who continue to experience symptoms External Site more than a month after being diagnosed. Some common symptoms include External Site:

  • Fatigue
  • Brain fog
  • Dizziness
  • Headaches
  • Heart palpitations
  • Long-term loss of taste and smell
  • Joint and muscle pain
  • Fever

If one or more of these symptoms are impacting your day-to-day life, it’s time to reach out to your doctor for help. Wellmark Blue Cross and Blue Shield members can find in-network doctors by registering for or logging in to myWellmark® Secure.

Mental health impacts

Living through a pandemic has taken a toll on many people's mental health. Surviving COVID adds another layer to that experience. Many COVID survivors have reported new or increased External Site depression, anxiety, or substance abuse.

If you think you could use mental health support, a virtual option might be the right fit for you. Virtual doctors, like the ones available through Doctor On Demand® External Site, are safe, convenient, and affordable. Wellmark members can also log in to myWellmark Secure to find an in-network mental health provider.

If you need immediate help, please call 911 or take advantage of the resources provided by the CDC External Site.

Doctor On Demand physicians do not prescribe Drug Enforcement Administration-controlled substances, and may elect not to treat conditions or prescribe other medications based on what is clinically appropriate.

For plans that include benefits for mental health treatment, Doctor On Demand benefits may include treatment for certain psychological conditions, emotional issues and chemical dependency. Services performed by Doctor On Demand psychologists are covered. Doctor On Demand does not provide psychiatry services. For more information, call Wellmark at the number on your ID card.

Doctor On Demand is a separate company providing an online telehealth solution for Wellmark members. Doctor On Demand® is a registered mark of Doctor On Demand, Inc.