"Today I feel good. And that's that's a blessing because it's not like that every day," Daniel Richard tells Newsy.
Life is much different now for 37-year-old Daniel Richard of Aurora, Colorado. Even though he was fully vaccinated in April, he’s among the more than 5,600 cases of breakthrough COVID that’s led to hospitalization.
"Two young doctors came into the E.R. room. They were wearing yellow, yellow hazmat suits with full face respirators with the forced oxygen filters on the back. They came in and they said, ‘We're going to admit you to the COVID ICU. And we have a we have we have two questions for you: Do you consent to us keeping you alive under any means necessary? And you know what that means?'" he recalled.
He says he knew what it meant. He had a family history of blood clots, which for him started after the COVID infection. While he survived the ICU, he’s not fully recovered. Richard’s now dealing with long-haul COVID symptoms.
"I get about like four to six hours of, like, good, lucid energy, and then I just want to go to bed. I started feeling tight in my chest. Burning sensation started to happen all over my body. Neurological issues," he said.
Newsy's Lindsey Theis asked: "Someone who's been vaccinated, someone who has been hospitalized and then, on top of all of that, gets out of the hospital but is dealing with long-haul COVID symptoms, that trifecta — how common is something like that?"
"Pretty uncommon to rare," Michelle Barron, senior medical director of infection prevention at UC Health, said. "We know, looking at who's been hospitalized, they fit that pattern. Most of them do have some underlying condition that's predisposed them to maybe already have a higher potential risk from COVID, and then also less likely to respond fully to the vaccine. With the COVID long syndrome, I think we're still learning a lot about that, and it doesn't always associate with severity of disease."
The CDC says a third of COVID-19 cases may lead to long-haul symptoms — those that last at least a month post-infection. That’s about 11 million Americans facing illness for months or years. It’s unclear right now how many of breakthrough cases are also long-haulers.
As for Richard, he says he still would have gotten the vaccine, crediting it for keeping him alive.
But as he deals with challenging countless medical bills and, of course, long-lasting symptoms, he’s trying to remain resilient.
"I'm a pretty affable, optimistic guy. But this really punched a hole through some of that," he says.