Utah teen describes frustrations of long-haul COVID-19

May 12, 2021, 5:00 PM

HERRIMAN, Utah — Months after her initial infection with COVID-19, a Utah teen told KSL TV she still deals with symptoms, the so-called “long-haul” effects of the virus. 

Alicia Rich, 15, initially came down with COVID-19 in February. She beat the infection, but in May, still can’t taste or smell. She also suffers from sharp chest pain when running or doing other exercises, and experiences ringing in her ears. 

That means one of her favorite activities, soccer, is off limits for the time being. 

“She’s been doing it since she was eight, so it’s a big deal,” said her mother, Misty Sharer. “Like, it’s her life.” 

“That’s all I do with my life is play soccer, but now, it’s way different. I can’t do it, really — I get too much pain and it’s just not the same,” Rich added. 

Many adults but few teens to share COVID long-haul experience

Rich’s challenges with long-haul COVID-19 led her family to a COVID-19 Long Haulers Facebook group, where Sharer discovered support, but also more questions. 

“We don’t even know what’s wrong with her, really,” Sharer said. 

While some self-described adult long-haulers in the group talked about improving after receiving the vaccine, they found few teens who could relate to Rich’s experience or offer guidance. 

This week a CDC advisory panel recommended the Pfizer vaccines for teens between the ages of 12 and 15, like Rich. But Sharer doesn’t know whether it will help or hurt. 

“It’s like, which side do you go on, you know? And I’m not an anti-vaxxer or anything like that. I just — it’s scary,” said Sharer.

State officials plan to look at bringing mobile vaccination sites directly to schools to try to expedite the process of offering COVID-19 vaccines to children 12 and up, with permission from their parents. Vaccinations, they say, will continue to prove critical in order to keep schools open in the fall. 


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Utah teen describes frustrations of long-haul COVID-19