Recent studies documenting the long-term ill health effects of COVID-19 should help convince those not yet vaccinated to get the shots.

The largest of these new studies, based at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, involved more than 87,000 COVID-19 patients and nearly 5 million people in a Veterans Administration database as a control group. It found that COVID-19 survivors, including those not hospitalized, have a 60% increased risk of death in the six months after being diagnosed with the virus. It also found that COVID-19 survivors are more at risk for heart disease, diabetes, kidney disease, various mental health disorders and other problems. A report on the study appeared in the journal, “Nature.”

A Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) study released Friday found that 69% of non-hospitalized COVID-19 patients had to have additional outpatient medical visits between 28 and 180 days after their initial COVID-19 diagnosis. The study examined electronic records of 3,171 people in the first 28 days after they were diagnosed with COVID-19. None of the 3,171 people were hospitalized. Among patients with the later medical visits, 68% received new diagnoses. Symptoms included cough, shortness of breath, chest or throat pain, or fatigue.

A new study by researchers at Oxford University found that one in three people who survived COVID-19 are diagnosed with a neurological or psychiatric condition within six months of being infected. The most common mental health conditions were anxiety disorders, depression, substance misuse and insomnia. Neurological conditions included brain hemorrhage, ischemic stroke and dementia. For the study, researchers looked at patient health records of more than 230,000 people who had confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the United States.

Other recent studies resulted in similar sobering findings.

Wilkes County residents are still being diagnosed with the virus and COVID-19-related deaths are still occurring here. If the county’s vaccination rate doesn’t drastically improve, it’s hard to imagine this situation changing anytime soon.

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