Young people suffering from long COVID are calling for others their age to get vaccinated.
A new NHS video features three people in their early 20s and 30s who had all been healthy before they caught the virus.
Support worker Quincy Dwamena, 31, said he had been a “healthy young guy” who “went to the gym often” and delayed getting the vaccine.
But then he caught the virus and became seriously ill.
Mr Dwamena, from east London, said: “I ended up being hospitalised and thought I was going to die.
“My advice is to get the vaccine: don’t put yourself and others at risk.
“I wish I’d got mine as soon as it was offered.”
Megan Higgins, 25, and Ella Harwood, 23, were both previously healthy and active but they now suffer from extreme fatigue due to long COVID.
The vaccine was not available to them when caught the coronavirus.
Miss Higgins, a special needs tutor from London, said: “It has now been eight months since I tested positive, and I can’t even walk around the shops without getting exhausted.
“Long COVID is debilitating, so please, get vaccinated. I wouldn’t want anyone else to go through what I have.”
Miss Harwood, an illustrator from London, said: “I’m young and fit but I was bed-bound for seven months with COVID-19.
“Before I caught the virus, I was super active and had no health concerns, but I now suffer with asthma which I didn’t have before and a number of allergies.
“I fear I’ll never be the same again but I’m making progress and I’m very grateful that I’m still alive.”
People aged between 16 and 29 are most likely to get long COVID, according to Public Health England, but vaccine uptake among this age group is lower than average.
Long COVID is a condition that remains even after the main virus is beaten and includes symptoms such as fatigue, breathlessness, headaches, cognitive problems, and mental health problems.
Those aged 18 to 34 make up more than 20% of those admitted to hospital with the virus – four times higher than during the winter peak of 2020 – and emergency medicine physician Dr Emeka Okorocha said most of those patients are unvaccinated.
He said: “As an A&E doctor, I’ve seen a lot during the pandemic. But nothing has shaken me like the sight of young, otherwise healthy adults being rushed into our hospitals with COVID-19.
“As well as their age, many of them have one other thing in common – they are unvaccinated.”
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Two doses of a COVID-19 vaccine halve the risk of experiencing symptoms that last more than 28 days after infection, the Office for National Statistics has said.
People aged 16 and 17 in England will be able to book their first vaccine dose from today.
Those aged 12 to 15 who considered at higher risk from COVID-19 will join them ahead of the new school year in September.
NHS England has launched an online walk-in site finder to help people locate their nearest GP-led vaccine centre. There are 800 available.
So far, 87.5% of those aged over 16 in the UK have received at least the first dose of a vaccine, while 76.3% are fully vaccinated.
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