GREENVILLE, N.C. (WNCT) — As health officials push more people to get vaccinated, another factor when it comes to COVID-19 is the after-effects.

Health experts say they are seeing more patients experiencing long-term symptoms. It’s called Post-acute COVID syndrome, the long-term effects of coronavirus.

“Probably the most consistent feature is fatigue beyond anything they’ve ever experienced before. Frequently we see patients with not only fatigue but the shortness of breath,” said Paul Bolin, the chair of medicine at East Carolina University’s Brody School of Medicine.

“Persistence of symptoms beyond four weeks after the onset of symptoms. Long-term symptoms also include severe headaches, chest and joint pain. This is a very real disease and a lot of people out there are suffering from it.”

Paul said lately they have been seeing an increase in reported long-term COVID symptoms.

“I’ve seen the prevalence to be as low as 15% of all people that have COVID to greater than 50%,” he said.

Bolin said the syndrome also has psychological effects.

“A lot of people that have had COVID and have come through this and have these prolonged symptoms, I’m worried that people think they’re not really sick. I’ve been very moved by the impact of sitting down with someone and validating their symptoms,” he said.

As cases continue to rise, Bolin said the best defense is getting vaccinated.

“The longer we go without higher penetrance of vaccinations the longer the time that the virus has to mutate. that’s our only tool right now is the vaccine,” Bolin said.

ECU is working to understand and treat the after-effects of the virus.

“We are actually cataloging these symptoms in collaboration with Dartmouth College to try to better determine exactly what this syndrome is and more importantly how to treat it.”