SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — COVID-19 is sort of like that guest that hangs around too long. The virus’s impact doesn’t always leave a person’s body after symptoms and hospitalization are over.

Now that children and younger adults are frequently getting a less severe variant, Omicron, they too are at risk for long-term effects, said Dr. David Basel of Avera Health in Sioux Falls.

In the long term, there is risk for “all kinds of lung scarring,” Basel said. Some people who have had severe COVID-19 cases may need oxygen for the rest of their lives, he said.

Even mild cases can impact lungs, he said.

An athlete may never be able to return to their prior level of performance capabilities after COVID, Basel said of an extreme long-term impact.

“Even in adolescent teenage athletes… COVID effects the heart, causes inflammation in the heart and can have longstanding effects on athletic performance,” Basel said. It’s not just hospitalized cases where that can happen, he said.

Avera, like many other health care facilities have reported, is seeing increases in unvaccinated younger individuals being hospitalized.

The DOH shared data on Wednesday that shows 80% of those hospitalized with COVID-19 are unvaccinated.

In general, the unvaccinated are more vulnerable to the virus and hospitalization, Basel said.

“We are noticing a short length of stay with omicron; that’s helpful,” Basel said of how the variant compares to Delta.

Younger adults such as those under 40 are less likely to be vaccinated than those 65 and older.

Children are among those who have been hospitalized.

School-age children may complain of muscle aches, headache or say they hurt all over, Basel said.

The severe form of COVID-19 in children is multisystem inflammatory syndrome (MIS).

That’s a life-threatening situation, Basel said. MIS can affect every system in the body and cause all sorts of long-term problems, he said.

“Thankfully, that’s relatively rare,” Basel said of MIS.

“It does tend to be that children have less severe and less long term effects of COVID still,” Basel said.

Yet, the possible long-term impacts in children are still unknown.

“We just don’t know say especially if a developing child gets COVID-19, what the effects will be long-term,” Basel said.

In general, COVID-19 can impact every system and organ in the body, Basel said.

Individuals who have said they lost a sense of smell or taste or complained of “brain fog” show how the virus can impact blood vessels, Basel said.

“Even in milder cases, people talk about this long-term fatigue,” Basel said.

Blood-vessel damage is linked to vascular damage, which means heart and renal damage are also possible long-term impacts, Basel said.

Basel stressed the best way to prevent the impacts of COVID-19 is to get fully vaccinated, get a booster, wear a mask, stay home when sick, and follow other health and safety COVID-19 guidelines.