CDC Science and the public health approach to Long COVID

CDC Science and the public health approach to Long COVID
Updated June 10, 2024
Key Points
  • Establishing a comprehensive understanding of SARS-CoV-2 infection and Long COVID helps inform current and future public health strategies.
  • Public health professionals should promote awareness of Long COVID, help combat the stigma that patients with Long COVID encounter and emphasize prevention of Long COVID by getting an updated COVID-19 vaccine.


Long COVID is an infection-associated chronic condition that occurs after SARS-CoV-2 infection and is present for at least 3 months as a continuous, relapsing and remitting, or progressive disease state that affects one or more organ systems. Long COVID affects millions of people across the United States and increases healthcare needs. Health departments play a crucial role in surveillance, communication, and education to increase awareness, reduce stigma, and improve care.

CDC and its partners are conducting research on Long COVID in a variety of populations and settings and are actively working to:

  • Disseminate clinical guidance and share epidemiologic and surveillance data to inform public health policy and action.
  • Create and increase access to Long COVID educational and communication resources.
  • Support clinical capacity by connecting clinicians and public health professionals to Long COVID clinical guidance, resources and educational opportunities.

Key findings


Long COVID estimates vary due to different study criteria, symptoms investigated, patient populations, and timing of when symptoms are assessed. CDC collects and analyzes data through several public health surveys. In 2022, 6.9% of adults and 1.3% of children (roughly 17 million and 1 million, respectively) in the United States ever reported experiencing Long COVID.(4-5) 

While Long COVID can occur in anyone who gets a SARS-CoV-2 infection, some people or groups of people are at higher risk of developing Long COVID. These include women, people with underlying conditions, people who experienced more severe outcomes of COVID-19, and people of Hispanic ethnicity. (4,9,10) Approximately 1 in 4 adults with Long COVID reported experiencing significant limitations in their daily activity.(6-8)  


More than 200 Long COVID symptoms have been identified. However, fatigue, brain fog, and exhaustion (post-exertional malaise) are among the commonly reported symptoms of Long COVID. (11,12)


COVID-19 vaccination is the best available tool to reduce the risk of Long COVID. Research shows that COVID-19 vaccination prior to SARS-CoV-2 infection reduces the risk of developing Long COVID among both children and adults. (1-3)  

Public health approach to Long COVID

Public health capacity

Collaboration between federal agencies and public health partners is important to address the serious nature of Long COVID. CDC has identified key areas of support that clinicians and public health professionals need to empower their efforts to address Long COVID.(13)

Surveillance and epidemiology

Using a variety of data sources to better understand and estimate the:

  • Incidence and prevalence of Long COVID
  • Economic, social, and clinical burden of Long COVID
  • Impact of Long COVID in certain populations who are disproportionately affected
  • Role of COVID-19 vaccination and other mitigation measures in preventing Long COVID

Communication and public education

Creating and increasing access to educational and communication resources to inform people about:

Clinical capacity

Supporting clinician efforts to effectively diagnose and manage Long COVID by:

  • Connecting clinicians to continuing education opportunities and webinars focused on Long COVID
  • Sharing information and increasing access to clinical resources and guidance for Long COVID

What CDC is doing

CDC continues to collaborate with clinicians, public health partners, and other federal agencies to better understand and address the impacts of Long COVID. CDC supports these goals by:

Explore CDC data

CDC’s research and data on Long COVID can be accessed through:

Prevalence data can be readily accessed from the National Center for Health Statistics rapid survey systems. Inclusion of data and analyses of Long COVID by race/ethnicity, age, sex, and other factors are a CDC priority.



Toolkits and additional resources

Continuing education and webinars

Echo Program

Select CDC Publications