#VoicesOfLongCovid Campaign

DHSS is collaborating with Resolve to Save Lives, an initiative of the global health organization Vital Strategies, to launch their “Voices of Long COVID” campaign throughout Missouri to increase public awareness of the impact of and unknowns associated with Long COVID. Our end goal is to encourage vaccine uptake, particularly among people ages 18-29, so fewer Missourians struggle with the devastating effects of Long COVID.

The “Voices of Long COVID” campaign features testimonials from a diverse group of people ages 18-29 who are suffering from long-term complications of COVID-19 infection. The initiative follows Resolve to Save Lives’ recent national survey, which found that nearly a third of American adults are unaware of Long COVID, and that long-hauler stories can motivate 40% of unvaccinated people to consider getting a COVID-19 vaccine.

“The brave young adults featured in the campaign are sharing their reality in order to help others avoid the harms of COVID infection,” said Dr. Tom Frieden, President and CEO of Resolve to Save Lives (and former CDC director). “Thousands of Americans struggle with Long COVID every day. Their stories are important reminders that vaccination is our best tool to prevent this potentially life-altering condition.”

The campaign shows the real-life stories of three COVID long-haulers who have been battling debilitating health problems over the past year believed to be caused by their original COVID-19 infection:

  • Katelyn Van Dyke, a 20-year-old Mizzou student who got COVID-19 in November 2020 and now has trouble breathing when walking and severe memory loss.
  • Rob Smith, a 22-year-old who used to run five miles a day and now struggles to climb stairs, maintain a healthy social life and manage the uncertainty of his COVID-19 recovery due to ongoing fatigue and brain fog. He shares his story in Spanish and English.
  • Isaiah Smith, a 26-year-old U.S. Air Force veteran, part-time student and essential worker who became infected with COVID-19 in October 2020 and now experiences extreme nausea, chest pain, shortness of breath, dizziness upon standing, heart palpitations and challenges with comprehension.

The patients spotlighted in the campaign want to warn others about the risks of being unvaccinated.

“Long COVID is real, and the struggle goes beyond what you can see,” Van Dyke said. “We don’t know enough about this condition yet, and there’s a good chance all of us know at least one person who is suffering from this. The best way to prevent COVID-19 and long COVID is to get vaccinated.”

“I’ve learned over the course of the past year that you should always value your personal health-this is especially needed among people who are refusing to get vaccinated,” said Rob Smith. “I’ve been trying to educate people about the long-term effects of COVID and the safety of the vaccine. The trade-off between COVID and the vaccine is not even close.”

Isaiah Smith is sharing his long COVID story “because I don’t want anyone else to experience what I’m going through.” He noted that some of his friends are vaccine-hesitant. “I tell them to talk to their doctor about getting the vaccine. They should avoid getting COVID at all costs because at the end of the day, they’re rolling the dice on what happens afterwards-they have no idea what’s going to happen.”

Missouri’s Long COVID webpage is at MOStopsCovid.com/LongHaul. If you would like to share educational materials, they can be found in both English and Spanish at this link.

Included are:

  • Web banners in various sizes
  • Radio ads in both 15- and 30-second spots
  • Videos
    • 15-second videos formatted for YouTube and Tremor
    • 15- and 30-second stories formatted for Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat