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The Joys and Trials of Frontline COVID Workers: Stories of Their Experiences

Thank you doctor

It is impossible for anyone to adequately thank the frontline COVID workers for everything they have done during this pandemic. Their struggles, long work hours, the upsetting incidents they have to witness all make it clear how much we owe them. One way we can show our appreciation is by amplifying their voices and listening to their stories.

Here, I will talk about two impactful stories of frontline workers – one positive encounter and one negative one. These incidents show just how much grief they have to see and how some incidents make their labor worth it.

An Elderly Couple Diagnosed With COVID

Kaitlyn Weckerle, a frontline health care worker in New York City, shared her story with a teacher, Michael Tuccio. Her story was heartbreaking, to say the least. It involves a couple in their eighties, admitted to Mather hospital on different days.

The husband came first. He had a bad case of COVID, and the doctors immediately decided that he needed intubation. However, he did not want that. He felt that he could beat COVID on his own without the intubation.

Of course, since he was old, that did not work out. His condition worsened, and intubation became necessary. On the day he got intubated, his wife contracted COVID and got admitted to the same hospital. Both the husband and the wife were Kaitlyn’s patients. 

Here comes the upsetting part. Both of them were in critical condition. This meant that the doctors could not inform either of them that they were in the same hospital. While they battled COVID together, neither of them knew of the other’s condition.

The couple’s daughters were in contact with the doctors throughout the operation. They would call the hospital every day to inquire about their parents’ conditions. So, understandably, both of them were extremely upset when the couple passed away.

The saddest part of this story was that the couple was in the hospital at the same time, operated on by the same doctor. They even died around the same time. However, neither of them knew that the other had died. Both of them passed away without having the opportunity to meet each other or to say goodbye. On top of that, their daughters could not meet them before their death either.

Kaitlyn remarked that this incident was very difficult for her. Unfortunately, it was not the only one. She said that many of her patients who needed intubation did not survive. Some of them seemed as if they would recover but then got worse and often passed away. 

My heart breaks to think about what both the daughters and Kaitlyn may have gone through. The number of such incidents these frontline workers have to witness every day is unbelievable and calling Kaitlyn, and other healthcare workers like her brave would be an understatement.

Of course, it’s not always bad. Many healthcare workers have talked about how happy they are when a patient recovers or when a patient has an emotional conversation with their family members. It is these moments, they say, that encourage them to come back to work every day.

doctor

A Very Impressive Haircut

Another healthcare worker, Fabriana Margaglio, submitted her story for COVID Heroes. She is an ER nurse at Orange County, CA. She recounted a wonderful story about a patient to whom she gave a haircut. 

The patient in question had just come off ECMO and was on the ventilator. This meant that she was awake. Since she had been lying down for days, her hair was untidy, so her nurse was trying to brush it. The ECMO stopped the woman from turning fully, and the nurse could not lift her neck properly. 

The patient had a tight, stubborn knot in her hair which the nurse was struggling to untangle while she brushed the woman’s hair. Fabriana, sure of her ability to untangle the knot – owing to her past experiences brushing dreadlocks out of her friends’ hair – volunteered to help.

Fabriana walked in and attempted to untangle the knot in the woman’s hair. Unfortunately, it was not possible. The patient, who had very long hair, resignedly told Fabriana to cut her hair instead. Fabriana was reluctant since people with long hair often do not make such a decision easily. After checking to see if the woman was sure about her decision, she cut her hair.

Fabriana made sure that she gave the woman an attractive-looking haircut. In her words, she wanted it to be a “Victoria Beckham circa 2005” cut rather than a “Kate Gosselin circa any time” cut. When she finished, the patient’s hair was in a nice-looking bob, and Fabriana was able to salvage most of the hair in the back.

Something worth noting is that Fabriana did all of this with 1-inch long suture removal scissors. She was also wearing a beekeeper suit while she did it. It was impressive how she was able to cut her hair so well with such conditions in place.

After the cut, the patient FaceTimed her husband and showed him her new cut. He told her she looked beautiful. Later, the patient’s nurse said that when Fabriana talked to the patient and after she cut her hair, the patient smiled. It was the first time she had smiled after she woke up. Clearly, Fabriana’s cut and her conversations about Victoria Beckham and Kate Gosselin helped lift the woman’s spirits.

Fabriana was very happy to make the patient smile. She said that she felt great knowing that she had the power to make someone this happy. 

Final Words

These two incidents show the variety of emotions healthcare workers feel while they work. It was impressive to note that, despite so many obstacles and so many chances of things going wrong, these frontline workers keep a positive attitude, always making sure to help as many people as possible.

Fabriana and Kaitlyn’s stories show us just how much we need to thank frontline workers and how much we should appreciate them, especially during the pandemic.

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What Should People Do After Full Vaccine?

Over the last year, the COVID-19 pandemic completely changed the way we’re living. Suddenly, people were to be shut in their homes to keep themselves safe from this highly transmissible virus. Now, with the rollout of the COVID-19 vaccine, there are hopes that we may soon be able to return to normal life. But what should people do after a full vaccine? 

Essentially, after a full vaccine, you can live life the way you did before the pandemic began. However, if we get into the nitty-gritty details, the exact guidelines on life post-vaccination change every day as we learn new things.

In this post, we’ll tell you how you can go about living your life after you’ve been vaccinated and if you need to take any precautions around other people, such as children.

What Does The COVID Vaccine Do?

COVID Vaccine

The COVID-19 vaccine protects you from getting sick. There’s still a lot of speculation over what precisely the vaccine can do, and, truth be told, the answer to this differs from vaccine to vaccine. 

There is no guarantee of complete immunity with the COVID-19 vaccine. This means that it is still possible to get the virus even after being fully vaccinated. So, it’s essential to know exactly what to do after getting vaccinated.

However, one thing we know for sure is that fully vaccinated people do not get severely sick from COVID. So, even if you test positive for the virus after your vaccinations, the chances of you needing to rush to the hospital are incredibly low.

What Counts As Fully Vaccinated?

You’re fully vaccinated for COVID-19 once you’ve received all your vaccination shots. The exact timeframe for this will differ depending on what vaccine you’re getting.

If you get a two-dose vaccine, such as Pfizer or Moderna, you’ll be fully vaccinated 2 weeks after your second shot. If you get a single-dose vaccine, such as Johnsons & Johnsons, you will be fully vaccinated two weeks after your shot. 

It’s important to wait two weeks because that’s the amount of time it takes for your immune system to learn how to fight against the COVID-19 virus. So, until those two weeks are over, you can get the virus.

If you have a compromised immune system or are taking medicines that weaken your immunity, you may not be fully vaccinated even after these timeframes have passed. So, you would still need to take all precautions you were taking previously.

What Can People Do After They Are Fully Vaccinated?

As we already said, you can essentially live life the way you used to before the pandemic once you’re fully vaccinated. This means you no longer need to wear a mask or socially distance from others unless the law requires you to do so.

Ideally, you should only stop mask and social distancing protocols when you’re around other vaccinated individuals because that is when the risk is the lowest. 

In addition to this, a lot of countries are now allowing fully vaccinated people to travel freely. You’ll still probably need a negative PCR test to board flights. However, the quarantine requirements that most countries have in place for international travelers may not apply to you!

Should Fully Vaccinated People Still Take Precautions?

But, let’s talk about what people should do after they’re fully vaccinated. While you may be protected from the virus, there can still be people around you vulnerable to the virus. So, on the off chance that you get COVID, you may transmit it to others.

So, you should still wear a mask when you’re around other unvaccinated people and in busy, crowded places like your office or a hospital. Similarly, you should follow both mask and social distancing protocols if you’re traveling internationally. 

We recommend getting a COVID test done 3 to 5 days after international travel since traveling gives you a lot of potential COVID exposure. You should also get tested and self-isolate if you exhibit any COVID-19 symptoms.

If you have children living in the house with you, they’re probably not vaccinated yet. Luckily, you don’t have to worry. As long as the adults in the house are fully vaccinated, you can stay around the children without a mask.

It is important to remember that children of all ages can become sick with COVID-19. However, the risk of children getting severely ill from COVID is very low. In fact, most children are asymptomatic or have mild symptoms. 

The likelihood of children getting infected with COVID falls even lower for children below the age of 10. So, if you have young children around the house, you don’t need to follow conventional safety guidelines if you’re fully vaccinated. 

However, some children can still get quite sick from COVID. In general, children with underlying conditions, such as asthma diabetes, are at risk for getting a severe case of the virus. So, if the children in your house have underlying conditions, we advise you wear a mask near them.

Is Life Going Back To Normal?

Many expert guidelines on the vaccine tell us that we can start living life as we used to before the pandemic if we’re fully vaccinated. Of course, this is only for when we are around other fully vaccinated individuals. 

However, this doesn’t mean that everything has gone back to normal just yet. COVID is still very present in the world, and a lot of people still remain unvaccinated. This means as a fully vaccinated person, you still need to take precautions around other unvaccinated individuals and in crowded places.

It is only when these precautions are followed that we can hope to slowly return to the normalcy we had before the pandemic.

References:

 

What Can You Do After You’re Fully Vaccinated?

https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/coronavirus/in-depth/coronavirus-in-babies-and-children/art-20484405

https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/vaccines/fully-vaccinated.html

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Vancouver School Exposures – Updated on June 25, 2021

As more places in the country continue to reopen, kids are starting to make their way back to school as well. Parents are naturally concerned about what schools are doing for COVID-19 and kids. All schools in the greater Vancouver region have dedicated safety plans to look after students’ health.

To develop a greater understanding of the term, exposure refers to a single person with a lab-confirmed COVID-19 infection, and they attend school. A cluster refers to two or more individuals with lab-confirmed COVID-19 infection, who attend school during their infectious period. Lastly, an outbreak refers to multiple individuals with lab-confirmed COVID-19 infections.

In the case of a COVID-19 school exposures alert, there’s no need to take any action until the parents receive contact from public health or the school itself. If a child faces direct exposure, the public health unit will notify parents regarding the situation and what actions they should take to take care of the child.

There’s a rigorous protocol in place to ensure that the entire school doesn’t have to shut down in the case of an exposure. These protocols are present to help manage COVID-19 school exposures as smoothly as possible, without disrupting the academic year. Here’s a list of all the COVID 19 school exposures in Great Vancouver (updated June 25, 2021)

Current Exposures:

Abbotsford School District #34

Schools


Potential exposure date(s)


Abbotsford Senior Secondary

June 14-16

Aberdeen Elementary

June 14-17

Blue Jay Elementary

June 10 and 11

McMillan Elementary

June 14 and 15

W.J. Mouat Secondary

June 10 and 14

Burnaby School District #41

Schools


Potential exposure date(s)


Burnaby Central Secondary

June 14

Gilpin Elementary

June 10, 14 and 15

Conseil Scolaire Francophone

Schools


Potential exposure date(s)


Ecole du Bois-Joli

May 31

Chilliwack School District #33

Schools


Potential exposure date(s)


Bernard Elementary

June 15

Cheam Elementary

June 14

Watson Elementary

June 14

Coquitlam School District #43

Schools


Potential exposure date(s)


Cape Horn Elementary

June 16 and 17

Centennial Secondary

June 10, 11 and 14-17

Ecole Dr Charles Best Secondary

June 11

Ecole Kilmer Elementary

June 15-18

Ecole Riverside Secondary

June 9-11

Ecole Rochester Elementary

June 10, 11 nd 14-17

Delta School District #37

Schools


Potential exposure date(s)


Gray Elementary

June 10

Hellings Elementary

June 10, 11 and 14-16

South Park Elementary

June 11

Langley School District #35

Schools


Potential exposure date(s)


Willoughby Elementary

June 11

Maple Ridge School District #42

Schools


Potential exposure date(s)


Davie Jones Elementary

June 14

Hammond Elementary

June 11 and 14

Laity View Elementary

June 18 and 21

Maple Ridge Secondary

June 10 and 11

Samuel Robertson Technical Secondary

June 11 and 14

Westview Secondary

June 11

Yennadon Elementary

June 10

New Westminster School District #40

Schools


Potential exposure date(s)


Ecole Herbert Spencer Elementary

June 14

Fraser River Middle

June 11

New Westminster Secondary

June 10

North Vancouver School District #44

Schools

Potential exposure date(s)

Queen Mary Community Elementary

June 14 and 16

Richmond School District #38

Schools

Potential exposure date(s)

Cook Elementary School

June 15

Kingswood Elementary School

June 2 – 4, 7 – 11 and 14

McNair Secondary School

June 7-10

Surrey School District #36

Schools

Potential exposure date(s)

Cougar Creek Secondary

June 14-16

Enver Creek Secondary

June 14

Hazelgrove Elementary

June 10 and 14-16

L.A. Matheson Secondary

June 14

Latimer Road Elementary

June 14

M.B. Sanford Elementary

June 14 and 15

Vancouver School District #39

Schools

Potential exposure date(s)

Britannia Secondary School

June 10-12 and June 14

École Lord Tennyson Elementary School

June 15 and 16

J. W. Sexsmith Elementary School

June 14-18

Lord Nelson Elementary School

June 14 and 15

Sir Sandford Fleming Elementary School

June 21

Independent Schools

Schools

Potential exposure date(s)

Highroad Academy (Chilliwack)

June 10, 11, and 14

John Knox Christian Secondary (New Westminster)

June 14-17

St. Joseph's School (Vancouver)

June 15 and 16

Saint Paul School (Richmond)

June 9-10

While the initial implementation of the COVID-19 school exposure system was shaky, these protocols are necessary to help ensure that the transition back to schools is done as smoothly as possible.

Parents can feel more comfortable when they’re fully in the know about the status of COVID-19 in their child’s school. While there are still arguments to be had about whether or not it’s safe to reopen the school system, there’s no doubt that the implementation of such protocols is necessary to ensure children’s safety.

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Everything You Need to Know about COVID-19 Vaccines

The arrival of COVID-19 vaccines was much-anticipated as the number of new cases and deaths kept rising in the United States and across the globe. Today the immunization process is going strong, which is why it’s important to learn as much as possible about the approved vaccines, how they work, and their effectiveness and potential side effects. Read on to get informed about Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna, Astra Zeneca, and Janssen (Johnson & Johnson) vaccines.

Overview of manufacturers

Pfizer-BioNTech

Pfizer is a well-known American pharmaceutical giant founded in 1849. Headquartered in Manhattan, Pfizer develops medications and vaccines for a wide range of medical conditions and fields ranging from oncology to immunology.

BioNTech, on the other hand, is a German biotechnology company founded in 2008. The Mainz-based company combines groundbreaking research with cutting-edge technology to develop therapeutics.

Moderna

Based in Cambridge, Massachusetts, Moderna was founded in September 2010. The pharmaceutical and biotechnology company focuses primarily on drug discovery and development and mRNA-based vaccine technologies. Their pipeline includes 24 development programs, 13 of which entered clinical studies.

Johnson & Johnson (Janssen)

Breaking: Johnson & Johnson vaccine had been paused over rare blood clots since this week.

Johnson & Johnson, founded in 1886, develops pharmaceuticals, medical devices, and consumer packaged goods. As one of the most well-known American companies, Johnson & Johnson has become the world’s largest and most broadly-based healthcare company focused on creating healthier communities. Janssen is a Belgium-based pharmaceutical company owned by Johnson & Johnson.

AstraZeneca

Founded in April 1999, AstraZeneca is a British-Swedish biotechnology and pharmaceutical company headquartered in Cambridge, England. Their pipeline includes 174 projects. In April 2020, AstraZeneca announced a collaboration with Oxford focused on the development and distribution of the COVID-19 vaccine.

Vaccines overview

There are different types of COVID-19 vaccines in terms of mechanism of action. These four vaccines belong to two categories: mRNA and viral vector (adenovirus) vaccines. Below, you can learn more about each vaccine and how it works.

Pfizer

Pfizer and BioNTech’s BNT162b2 vaccine is a messenger RNA (mRNA) type of vaccine. Messenger RNA is a genetic material the cells in the body read to make proteins. The vaccine relies on genetically engineered mRNA to give cells instructions on how to produce a harmless segment of S protein found on the COVID-19 virus surface. Once a person is vaccinated, the immune system starts making the pieces of S proteins that emerge on the surfaces of the cells. 

As a result, the immune system creates antibodies. Therefore, if a person gets infected with the virus, the antibodies will strive to protect them. Upon production of S protein fragments, the mRNA breaks down immediately. In fact, mRNA never reaches the nucleus of a cell where your DNA is stored. The vaccine is administered in two doses given 21 days apart. Each vaccine vial contains 5 doses of 0.3 milliliters.

When was the vaccine issued?

On November 20, 2020, Pfizer requested an emergency use authorization from the FDA. On December 11, 2020, the Food and Drug Agency granted Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine their request. Vaccination in the U.S. started on December 14. The first Western country that approved this vaccine was Great Britain on December 2, but seven days later (on December 9, 2020), Canada did the same. The vaccine was authorized in the European Union on December 21, 2020.

How many people have received the vaccine?

The latest data shows at least 67,56 million doses have been administered so far in the United States. Keep in mind these numbers keep changing by the day as more and more people get vaccinated.

How effective is the vaccine?

According to the latest real-world evidence, two weeks after the second vaccine dose, protection by Pfizer-BioNTech is strong, with 97% effectiveness. In other words, this vaccine has 97% effectiveness against symptomatic COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations, severe and critical hospitalizations, and death. Additionally, the effectiveness of this vaccine is 94% against asymptomatic cases. One of the earlier reports, a trial involving 43,548 participants, reported two doses of this vaccine conferred 95% protection against COVID-19.

Does the vaccine have side effects?

Some people may experience temporary and mild side effects after vaccination with the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine. These adverse reactions tend to last a few days only and include:

  • Tiredness
  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Headache
  • Pain and swelling around the injection site

Keep in mind these side effects are normal and, actually, indicate the vaccine is doing its job in “activating” the immune system.More serious side effects are uncommon. They may include:

  • Allergic reactions
  • Muscle pain
  • Joint pain
  • Swollen lymph nodes
  • Nausea

It’s useful to mention adverse reactions are more common after the second dose rather than the first.

Who should and shouldn’t get vaccinated with this vaccine?

The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine is suitable for persons aged 16 and older. Most adults are eligible for this vaccine. However, you shouldn’t get this vaccine if any of these apply to you:

  • History of an allergic reaction to any ingredient in mRNA vaccine
  • Suffering from an allergic reaction after the first dose of this vaccine

The vaccine is meant to work for persons with underlying, chronic conditions. But, if you have concerns, you may benefit from consulting your doctor.

Moderna

Moderna’s mRNA-1273 vaccine works just like Pfizer and BioNTech vaccine. Basically, it’s an mRNA-based vaccine that does not contain the live virus but aims to produce antibodies by inducing the immune system’s reaction to a specific protein (S protein)

The vaccine is administered in two doses, 28 days apart. Each vaccine vial contains 10 doses of 0.5 milliliters.

When was the vaccine issued?

The FDA approved Moderna’s vaccine on December 18, 2020. Canada authorized this vaccine on December 23, 2020, and European Union on January 6, 2021.

How many people have received the vaccine?

At least 62,88 million doses of the Moderna vaccine have been administered to Americans. These numbers change every day as the immunization process keeps moving forward.

How effective is the vaccine?

The vaccine has been shown to have an effectiveness of 92% in protecting against COVID-19, starting two weeks after the first dose. A study from the New England Journal of Medicine showed Moderna vaccine had the effectiveness of 94.1% at preventing COVID-19 illness.

Does the vaccine have side effects?

Common side effects in the injection site may include pain, redness, and swelling. Adverse reactions throughout the body include:

  • Chills
  • Fever
  • Headache
  • Muscle pain
  • Nausea
  • Tiredness

Most side effects are mild to moderate. The risk of severe side effects is low, and they may include allergic reactions.

Who should and shouldn’t get vaccinated with this vaccine?

Moderna’s vaccine is suitable for persons aged 18 years and older. Almost everyone should get this vaccine. The vaccine shouldn’t be administered to persons who had a severe allergic reaction to the first dose of the vaccine and men and women who are allergic to the ingredients of this vaccine. Pregnant and breastfeeding women may want to consult their healthcare provider first.

Johnson & Johnson

Johnson & Johnson’s JNJ-78436735 vaccine is different than Moderna and Pfizer’s. This is a viral vector vaccine. Essentially, the viral vector (or adenovirus) vaccine contains genetic material from the COVID-19 virus. The genetic material was inserted into a different kind of live virus, known as adenovirus. Here, a viral vector or adenovirus acts as a delivery system. Upon entering the cells, the viral vector delivers the COVID-19 virus’s genetic material. When that happens, the virus gives instructions to those cells to produce S protein. Just like with mRNA vaccines, fragments of S proteins appear on the surface of the cells, thus activating the production of antibodies. The vaccine can’t infect you, and genetic material doesn’t reach your DNA.

Janssen is a single-dose vaccine. One vial of this vaccine contains five doses of 0.5ml.

When was the vaccine issued?

On February 27, 2021, FDA issued emergency use authorization for the Janssen vaccine. Approval in Canada for this vaccine was received on March 5, 2021, and European Union authorized it on March 11, 2021.

How many people have received the vaccine?

About 2.73 million doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine have been administered so far in the United States.

How effective is the vaccine?

The Johnson & Johnson vaccine showed an effectiveness of 85% in preventing severe COVID-19 that doesn’t require hospitalization. The effectiveness in the U.S. was 72%, and overall efficacy across all studied geographical areas in their trial was 66%.

Does the vaccine have side effects?

Common side effects of the Janssen vaccine are the same as those of Pfizer and Moderna. While severe adverse reactions are unlikely, some people may experience an allergic reaction. The allergic reaction occurs within a few minutes up to an hour after vaccination. Your healthcare provider may ask you to stay at a vaccination place for monitoring.

Who should and shouldn’t get vaccinated with this vaccine?

Johnson & Johnson vaccine is meant for persons who are at least 18 years old. Generally speaking, the vaccine is suitable for most people. Those who shouldn’t get the vaccine are persons who are allergic to any of the ingredients contained in the formula.

AstraZeneca

AstraZeneca and Oxford’s AZD1222 vaccine belongs to the viral vector category, just like Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine. As mentioned above, these vaccines contain genetic material from the COVID-19 virus and a delivery system in the form of adenovirus or a viral vector.

Unlike Johnson & Johnson, the AstraZeneca vaccine is not a single-dose vaccine. Two shots are necessary for intervals of eight to 12 weeks. Each vial contains eight to 10 doses of 0.5ml.

When was the vaccine issued?

AstraZeneca was first approved in the U.K. on December 30, 2020. The approval of this vaccine in the E.U. arrived on January 29, 2021, and Canada authorized it on February 26. At the moment of writing this article, the AstraZeneca vaccine wasn’t approved in the U.S. The approval is expected to happen in the coming days or weeks.

How many people have received the vaccine?

AstraZeneca vaccine is not distributed in the U.S. just yet.

How effective is the vaccine?

The interim trial among adults in the United States, Chile, and Peru showed an effectiveness of 79%. 

Does the vaccine have side effects?

The side effects of the AstraZeneca vaccine are similar to what you might experience with other vaccines. In most cases, the adverse reactions range from mild to moderate. They generally include pain at the injection site, body chills, tiredness, and fever.

Who should and shouldn’t get vaccinated with this vaccine?

People aged 18 years or older can get the AstraZeneca vaccine. You shouldn’t get the vaccine if you had an allergic reaction to a previous dose or you are allergic to any component of this vaccine.

Where to learn about vaccines?

Sources of reliable information about vaccines include:

CVDVACCINE.com – https://www.cvdvaccine.com/

CDC – https://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/covid-19/index.html

HHS.gov – https://www.hhs.gov/coronavirus/covid-19-vaccines/index.html

Conclusion

The main focus of this post was on vaccines against COVID-19. These vaccines belong to mRNA and viral vector categories and have a high effectiveness rate. Consult your doctor if you are pregnant, breastfeeding, or if you are concerned about your medical condition.

References

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COVID-19 Vaccines: Who Is Eligible, How to Get Vaccinated, What to Expect?

Covid Vaccine

One of the best ways to tackle the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic is through immunization programs. At this point, several COVID-19 vaccines are available such as Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson / Janssen. The ongoing vaccination process may seem confusing, especially because most of us have never experienced this apocalyptic scenario before. To help you get informed, we are going to simplify the whole process in this post. Read on to see who is eligible for vaccination, how to apply, and other useful things you need to know.

Who is eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine?

COVID19 Vaccine

Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine has been authorized for ages 16 and up, while Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines are approved for persons with ages 18 and up. At this point, over 150 million people (more than half the population) are eligible to receive a vaccine against COVID-19.

According to the CDC, the U.S. supply of vaccines is expected to be limited at first. For that reason, 

they issued recommendations to federal, state, and local governments regarding the priorities for vaccinations. The vaccine rollout is recommended to develop in three phases:

  • Phase 1a: healthcare personnel and residents of long-term care facilities to receive first doses of COVID-19 vaccines
  • Phase 1b: frontline essential workers (police officers, firefighters, corrections officers, USPS workers, food and agricultural workers, manufacturing workers, grocery store workers, public transit workers, teachers, daycare workers). People aged 75 years and older are also included in phase 1b of vaccine rollout.
  • Phase 1c: people aged 65-74 years (except for residents of long-term care facilities who received the vaccine in phase 1a), people aged 16-64 with an underlying medical condition, and other essential workers such as persons working in logistics and transportation, food service, information technology, and communications, media, public safety, law, and public health

It’s useful to keep in mind recommendations from the CDC are not binding. Each state has the right to determine priorities regarding vaccination. To check whether you’re eligible, you should visit the official public health website of your state for more specific vaccination eligibility requirements. In the “Useful COVID-19 vaccination resources” section, you can find the link with all state and territorial Health Department websites.

How to apply for the vaccine?

Covid Vaccine

The application process for the vaccine depends on each state. For that reason, it’s useful to visit the link with health department websites, find your state, and see how to apply. The link is available further in the article.

Some state and local health departments have set up platforms where people can confirm the eligibility, schedule an appointment, and confirm the vaccine they will take. However, some health departments have arranged mass vaccinations relying on a first-come, first-served approach.

Can I choose which vaccine against COVID-19 I get?

Since several vaccines against COVID-19 are available, it’s impossible not to wonder if and how you can choose which one to get. However, it’s highly unlikely any of us have any say in the matter. You probably won’t be able to choose the vaccine. Why? Well, numerous factors are involved, including limited supplies, the vaccines used by the health department in your area, and the time of vaccination. Again, it’s useful to check out the health department website of your state of residence. In the end, the type of vaccine doesn’t really matter, and people are advised to get any vaccine their health departments offer since they have high effectiveness.

Basically, at this point, you can’t choose the vaccine. But, you may be able to do so once they become commercially available. At the moment, you can’t buy a vaccine against COVID-19 in pharmacies. But, CVS, Walgreens, and other chain pharmacies may start offering vaccines in partnership with the federal government.

What does “fully vaccinated” mean?

A person is considered “fully vaccinated” two weeks after receiving the second dose of vaccines such as Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna and two weeks after receiving a single-dose vaccine such as Johnson & Johnson / Janssen.

A common misconception is that a person is “fully vaccinated” as soon as they receive a vaccine, but that’s simply not true. You are not fully vaccinated immediately or if it has been less than two weeks since receiving a single-dose vaccine or the second dose of Pfizer and Moderna.

How to protect yourself and others when you’re fully vaccinated?

Disregarding all the rules and recommendations once you’re fully vaccinated is a huge mistake. Keep in mind we are still learning how the vaccines work. Once you are fully vaccinated, you can finally gather indoors with other fully vaccinated people without having to wear a mask. You can also gather indoors with people from 

other households without wearing a mask unless any of these men and women are in a high-risk group of developing severe symptoms of COVID-19.

In case you, as a fully vaccinated person, have been in contact with someone who has COVID-19, you don’t have to get tested unless you’re experiencing symptoms as well.

While all these are important changes, as a fully vaccinated person, you still need to be cautious in order to protect yourself and other people; you should still:

  • Wear a mask in public
  • Maintain social distancing (at least six feet apart)
  • Avoid crowds
  • Avoid poorly ventilated spaces
  • Delay your domestic and international travels

Always keep in mind that many people are still not vaccinated. So you need to be particularly careful in order to protect them. Also, make sure to watch out for symptoms of COVID-19.

Useful COVID-19 vaccination resources

State & Territorial Health Department Websites, CDChttps://www.cdc.gov/publichealthgateway/healthdirectories/healthdepartments.html

COVID-19 Vaccine, CDChttps://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/vaccines/index.html

COVID-19 Vaccines, U.S. Department of Health and Human Resourceshttps://www.hhs.gov/coronavirus/covid-19-vaccines/index.html

Conclusion

Most people are eligible for COVID-19 vaccines, but each state determines their ultimate eligibility and priority requirements. Make sure to check the official website of the public health department of your state to learn more about the process. Remember, getting a vaccine doesn’t mean you are fully vaccinated immediately, and you should still be cautious to protect yourself and others.

References

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Covid19 Side Effect: Brain Fog?

COVID19

With over 50 million worldwide COVID recovered cases, many survivors are still feeling the lingering side effects. You may have heard of the quickened heart rate, dizziness, and chronic fatigue. Recently, however, one particular side effect has gained a lot of attention – brain fog.

People forget names, lose concentration, and have trouble planning or prioritizing properly. In the last couple of months, experts have studied this recent side effect. They’ve analyzed its impact and where it is coming from.

If you want to know more, you are in the right place! Here is what science has to say about brain fog from COVID-19.

Real Life Brain Fog Cases

Millions of survivors have completely recovered from the illness. But, some of them are having lingering side effects.

“It feels like I’m having dementia,” stated a COVID survivor patient after experiencing the brain fog side effect. New York Times published the story of Lisa Mizelle, an experienced nurse practitioner who got infected in July. Afterward, she started to forget lab tests and routine treatments.

Ms. Mizelle stated she had to consult with colleagues about terminology she would normally use with ease. Plus, whenever she left the room, she would immediately forget what her patient said. This made her feel scared and anxious when working.

Michael Reagan also had a terrifying experience. After recovering from the coronavirus, the patient lost 12 days of his memory from his trip to Paris. Although he went on a vacation a couple of weeks earlier, he couldn’t remember any of it.

According to an infectious disease specialist, Tanu Singhal, recently, there have been more and more patients admitted for the brain fog side effect. One patient was admitted for a mild COVID infection. He didn’t need any significant treatment. But, after one month, the patient became forgetful. His forgetfulness escalated to the extent that he forgot almost everything.

He became withdrawn and drowsy and had to receive treatment. Singhal stated brain fog comes in various spectrums and needs more research. But, what we do know is that COVID-19 doesn’t behave like any other known pathogen. It breaks all the common barriers and boundaries.

Why Do People Experience Brain Fog?

Around 55% to 60% of recovered COVID-19 patients experience neurological symptoms. Studies show they have visual disturbance, fatigue, headaches, and mood changes. Major functional and microstructural brain integrity disruptions are common.

According to Singhal, COVID-19 enters the system through the ACE-2 receptor. These receptors can be found scattered around the system. That’s why the infection has complete access to all parts of the human body. So, it can also affect the central nervous system.

One reason for the forgetfulness may be actual organ damage. Depending on the severity of the infection, the virus can influence internal systems. Another reason might be a byproduct of stress. Our body has too much on its plate when it’s infected with COVID-19. So, the nervous system has nowhere left to run.

Brain fog is thought to be caused by POTS (postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome). This is a well-known blood circulation health disorder. At first, patients think these symptoms are “just in their head.” But neurology reports are showing otherwise.

Although more research is necessary, it is evident that some survivors have typical POTS signs. Tae Chung, an assistant professor at Johns Hopkins University, stated that these symptoms are very real. And they do cause a stir.

In fact, they are linked to autonomic nerve dysfunction. Our autonomic nervous system is responsible for many involuntary body functions. Like blood flow, bowel movement, and sweating.

Chung estimates that the virus could be linked to progressive inflammation in the autonomic nervous system, which ends up causing POTS. But, before a patient can diagnose the issue, they must recognize the symptoms.

How to Recognize the Symptoms?

According to Columbia University, even mild COVID cases can still cause COVID-19 brain fog. Among hospitalized patients, around a third of them experienced acute neurological symptoms.

Global case reports show that patients may experience:

  • Inattention
  • Fatigue
  • Lack of concentration
  • Trouble working for long hours
  • Difficulty getting out of bed
  • Forgetfulness
  • Anxiety
  • Poor sleep

The least common symptoms are behavior and thinking problems. That’s why some people might feel anxious or have trouble sleeping. When accompanied by the typical sensory symptoms, like loss of taste and smell, this side effect can be a real problem.

It can make you lose your appetite, cause discomfort, lightheadedness, and more. Therefore, survivors who were previously thriving may now experience profound changes in their day-to-day lives. It is best to ask for help to curb these symptoms.

Can People Recover?

Yes. Brain fog seems to be a temporary side effect. No one has complained of chronic or permanent forgetfulness and fatigue. Unfortunately, it doesn’t go away as fast as people want it to. It can linger, but the body will eventually recover.

If you suspect to have any neurological side effects, it’s best to get evaluated at an outpatient clinic. You might want to keep a diary and record the symptoms you are experiencing. To do that, pay attention to your memory, sensory symptoms, fatigue, taste and smell, anxiety, and sleep.

References

https://www.cuimc.columbia.edu/news/even-mild-cases-can-cause-covid-19-fog

https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/news/newsroom/news-releases/covid-19-story-tip-brain-fog-fatigue-dizziness–post-covid-pots-is-real

https://scroll.in/article/981106/why-do-recovered-covid-19-patients-report-brain-fog-an-infectious-disease-specialist-explains

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7527190/

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Back to School With a Mask

kids

Change is hard to get used to. But, with a little effort, you can adapt to many new things. One example of a big change is the way schools are running these days. They offer a completely different experience from what we are used to. Children must wear a school mask if they want to go to class.

Here’s how you can help your child get used to wearing a mask to school.

1. Beat the Fear

Facial coverings are designed to keep people safe, but they also hide a person’s face. This can be intimidating for a child. Children rely on their facial expressions to communicate. However, with a face mask, they can’t see the familiar faces and friendly smiles. This is unnatural and scary for them. These tips will help beat the fear.

Help the Child Get Accustomed to Masks

Wearing a facial covering can be difficult for a young child, even in short bursts. Therefore, practice becomes a key strategy. Ask the child to practice wearing the facial covering before they go outside. Teach them how to take it off and put it back on.

Share the importance of wearing a mask so that the child will realize why they are doing it. With regular wear, the struggle subsides, and they get used to it through routine.

Add a Personal Touch

Children need to feel comfortable with a face mask. Encouraging them to decorate is the best way to give them a sense of ownership. Tell your child to draw, put stickers, or bedazzle the mask. With it, they can show their creative side and obtain some level of control. They can also put their name on it so others know who they’re speaking to!

Introduce Playfulness

Fear can be a real setback. But, making the mask a fun experience can add an additional layer of safety. For example, play pretend with your child. Ask them to be a nurse or a doctor and to wear a mask while they care for you or a stuffed animal. Relying on “doctor kits” and favorite toys can be a great way of helping a child relax.

Implement a Sense of Security

Impulsive children tend to act without thinking. They may pull off the mask when they argue with friends without even realizing it. To fix the problem, apply a breakaway lanyard to the elastic strap of the mask. So, even if the child pulls the mask off, it won’t be lost and the facial covering will remain on their person. This can be used as a reminder for the child to put the mask back on.

Note: Do not create fear when a child wears a mask. Try to present it as a new but important habit for keeping themselves healthy during the pandemic. If you take a positive approach, the child is more likely to follow your example.

2. Find the Perfect Fit

Here is how to find a mask that will fit a child’s face.

Comfortable but Snug Fit

The mask must comfortably wrap around the child’s nose and mouth. There shouldn’t be any openings or loose ends. A poor fit will only encourage the child to use their hands to readjust the mask, exposing them to dangerous pathogens and contamination.

Smaller Size

Look for children’s masks designed to cover a smaller face. They must go over the nose and cover each side of the face. With adequate adjustment, there will be no fogging on their glasses.

No Pain

When the straps are too tight, they can hurt the back of the ears and the nose. A comfortable face mask doesn’t put that much pressure on these points. It doesn’t leave a mark or cause redness of the skin.

The Right Material

The mask is supposed to feature 3 to 4 textured cotton layers. Anything more than that will be too thick and cause trouble breathing. Fewer layers create bigger chances for exposure. So, opt for tightly-woven material with enough layering.

Safety

Do not use any small decorations or straps that may pose a choking hazard. It’s critical that the mask uses only comfortable materials to be safe to use.

3. Overcome the Sensory Issues

A child with sensory processing difficulties will have trouble tolerating the closeness, smell, and feel of a mask. This creates extreme discomfort and forces them to fiddle with the covering. That’s why children result to meltdowns, because they are trying to communicate discomfort. This is where small-dose practice helps.

Create a Custom Mask

By taking the child’s sensitivities into account, you can make your own face mask. Some parents tend to use the child’s old T-shirts. The pattern, material, and smell can be very comfortable. It provides reassurance for those who can’t get used to commercial facial coverings.

Consider Alternatives

If the child still can’t tolerate a face mask, relying on alternatives can prove useful. Products like face shields are a great way to protect their health. Also, using a Plexiglass divider in smaller rooms can give children their necessary break from wearing a face mask. It can boost their focus and help them get accustomed to wearing a facial covering.

4. Adjusting the Face Mask

The mask is constantly exposed to droplets and hazardous pathogens. When a child sneezes or coughs, the material acts as a barrier against these pathogens. But, it’s not a total method of protection. The eyes are still vulnerable and exposed to the virus. If the child doesn’t adjust the mask properly, they risk transferring the infection from their hands into their body.

Before and after a child touches the mask, they should wash their hands with soap and water. This will help get rid of the germs and avoid infections.

The safest way to readjust the facial covering is to hold the mask by the ear loops—one hand on each side. The face mask should completely cover the mouth and nose. There shouldn’t be any gaps between the skin and the face mask. The same tactic can be used when removing the face mask.

 

References

https://www.understood.org/en/school-learning/choosing-starting-school/back-to-school/trouble-wearing-mask

https://kidshealth.org/en/parents/coronavirus-masks.html

https://www.ualberta.ca/alberta-respiratory-centre/media-library/back-to-school-with-a-mask-printable-8.pdf

https://www.groupeproxim.ca/en/article/adjusting-removing-and-cleaning-your-face-mask#

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Do Masks Affect Your Breathing?

mask up

Face masks have become mandatory in public places across the globe to stop the spread of COVID-19. However, it’s not uncommon to come across claims that face masks cause breathing problems and contribute to complications. Do they really affect your breathing and deplete the availability of oxygen? You’ll find out below.

Do face masks affect our lungs?

Although face masks are not pleasant to wear for some people, they are not depleting your availability to access oxygen. A study from the October 2020 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association confirmed that wearing nonmedical face masks doesn’t harm your breathing. In the study, 25 subjects self-measured peripheral oxygen saturation before, while, and after wearing a three-layer nonmedical mask.

All subjects were older adults, who are at a higher risk of getting infected with COVID-19 and more vulnerable to any decrease in oxygen levels from mask-wearing. They wore portable pulse oximeters, which measure blood oxygen levels. Scientists found no concerning signs of hypoxia, decreased oxygen levels. On average, oxygen saturation was 96.1% before participants wore a mask, 96.5% while they were wearing a mask, and 96.3% after wearing a nonmedical mask. The study confirmed that face masks are not dangerous.

That’s not the only study that confirmed wearing face masks doesn’t harm your lungs and breathing. One research focused on testing the effect of wearing surgical masks on gas exchange. Gas exchange is the process wherein the body adds oxygen to the blood while removing carbon dioxide. For more accurate results, the investigators enrolled 15 healthy physicians and 15 military veterans with severely impaired lungs. Findings revealed neither the healthy doctors nor the subjects with diseased lungs experienced major changes in the gas exchanged measurements after a six-minute fast-paced walking test.

Why do I feel discomfort when wearing a mask?

Some people do feel discomfort while wearing a face mask, but it’s not a sign of lowered oxygen levels or increased carbon dioxide. Instead, the discomfort you experience could result from irritation of sensitive facial nerves, warming inhaled air, or induced feelings of claustrophobia. Most people aren’t used to wearing face masks. The sensation of having a mask on the face could make someone uncomfortable and anxious.

Even though our breathing is unconscious and controlled by a respiratory center, our mind can also influence it. When we feel discomfort, even on a subconscious level, it can change the way we breathe. For example, if we think there’s no air, or that it’s difficult to breathe under a mask, we are susceptible to psychosomatic effects. These factors are not a source of concern, which is why you should always wear a mask in public to protect yourself and others.

Conclusions

Face masks do not reduce our oxygen levels, studies confirm. The discomfort we feel results from various factors, none of which are a source of concern. Take slower, longer breaths, and try to breathe through your nose to reduce the discomfort you experience. Make sure to wash reusable masks regularly and avoid wearing the same disposable mask multiple times.

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When to Clean and Change Face Masks: Cloth, N95, and Surgical Mask Proper Use Tactics

People maskup

The need to wear a mask has skyrocketed in the last couple of months. A recent survey shows that 72% of American adults are either wearing a face mask when they go out in public or are always wearing one due to their constant exposure to the virus at work.

Ever since the pandemic broke out, people had to take the recommended precautions to fend off COVID-19. These facial coverings have become a necessity, so it is essential to know how to clean them properly.

If you want to know more about cleaning and changing the face masks, you’ve come to the right place. We prepared a simple guideline that will help you figure out how to take proper care of your face mask.

Cloth mask

How Often Do I Clean My Cloth Mask?

Cloth face masks are the go-to choice for many people. They are reusable, convenient, and practical for outdoor and indoor public spaces. Although you can re-use them for a long time, it’s still critical to clean the cloth masks properly.

Experts advise that you clean the cloth face mask after every use, or at least after every day of wear. You can wash the fabric by hand with some detergent or soap and warm water. A standard detergent will do. Or, you can toss it in the washing machine at preferably 60 °C (140°F). Feel free to use a hot dryer setting.

You can also sterilize the mask by soaking it in detergent and room temperature water and then boil it for 1 min. Another alternative would be to soak the fabric in 0.1% chlorine for a minute and rinse the product completely. This will help remove any of the chlorine residues.

Once the cloth mask gets damaged or loose, discard it.

Can I Use a Disinfectant on My Cloth Mask?

Even though you might be tempted to wipe the face mask with a disinfectant, it’s not a good idea. People who are in a pinch and use a disinfectant may end up breathing in dangerous chemicals. So, it is best to set aside the used mask and take another. Washing the mask should be a top priority.

Can I Sterilize and Reuse Disposable Face Masks?

No. These masks are meant for single use. After you’ve applied the product to the face, you should remove it and dispose of it immediately. If it gets too expensive, switch to a cloth mask instead. It is a better money-saving technique. 

Can I Re-Use N95 Respirators?

N95 masks are primarily used by healthcare professionals. Although they too are disposable, the CDC stated that it is safe to extend their use for up to 8h. But, to make sure that the user remains protected from invading pathogens, it’s best to use a face shield and reduce the risk of soiling the N95 mask prematurely.

Since COVID-19 loses its viability after 72h, experts have suggested a re-use and rotation strategy. But only if the mask hasn’t been soiled or contaminated. You can re-use the N95 a maximum of 5 times. After which you will have to change it. 

How Often Do I Clean My N95?

Purchase a set of a minimum of five N95 masks and rotate their use every day. Studies show that these masks can be steam cleaned for 5 min at 125°C (257°F). Anything longer than that can damage the mask.

After cleaning, let them dry completely until the pathogens are no longer viable. That will take over 72h. The ideal drying strategy would be to hang the masks. You can also store them in a breathable and clean paper bag to prevent contamination.

Each mask shouldn’t touch the other while it is drying. It’s critical to avoid sharing the respirator with anyone in the family. Otherwise, you risk contaminating the mask from bodily fluids. If the product has been damaged or contaminated, throw it away.

Final Thoughts

Since face masks too can become contaminated, it is crucial that you take good care of them. Washing the cloth mask can get rid of all those particles and prevent the respiratory illness from infecting your system. But, you shouldn’t wash a surgical mask. The disposable products are designed for single use. At the same time, the N95 respirators can be re-used. Now that you know the adequate cleaning and replacement strategies, you can make the most of your preferred face mask.

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Travel Safety: How to Protect Yourself During Christmas Travel

travel during covid

With Christmas just around the corner, people have started considering making travel plans. Whether it’s to meet the family that lives in a different city or to take a short winter vacation, travel is slated to increase during these holidays.

If you are planning to travel, you will need to factor in the very real risk of coronavirus into your plans. While traveling may be possible, you will need to take care to take extra precautions to keep yourself and others safe.

There are several steps that you can take to ensure your safety, including:

  • Disinfection: Make sure to disinfect the surfaces of the vehicle you are in thoroughly. If you are traveling in your own personal car, you should wipe down the windows, seats, seatbelts, console, steering wheel, and door handles. If you are traveling by plane or in a rideshare vehicle, wipe down the surfaces around you with antibacterial wipes or using sanitizer.
  • Carry Hand Sanitizer: Ensure that you have a bottle of hand sanitizer with you that has at least60% alcohol. You can use this to clean your hands if soap and water are not available, as well as if you come into contact with frequently touched surfaces like elevator buttons and hand railings.
  • Keep Distance: Make sure that you maintain a distance of at least 6 feet between you and other travelers when possible. Though this may not always be feasible, ensure that you keep as much distance between yourself and others as you can.
  • Wear a Mask: If you are in a vehicle with people not from your household, including rideshare drivers, or in an airplane with other passengers, ensure that you wear a mask at all times. Masks can reduce the amount of virus in the airspace. The more people wear a mask, the lower the risk of transmission.

Air Travel

When traveling by air, make sure you research each airline’s policies around social distancing before making a booking. Some airlines block middle seats so that you are not seated directly next to a non-household member, which can help reduce the risk of transmission. If possible, ensure you are traveling with one of these airlines.

If you are taking a short flight, consider going snack free. Snacking on flights will require you to lower your face mask, which can significantly increase the risk of virus transmission. 

If you can choose which seat to book, book a window seat. Also, ensure that your seat is not next to the restroom. An aisle seat will put you in contact will people traveling up and down the aisles, while the restroom is a frequented spot, and so will once again put you in contact with more people. A window seat will reduce the amount of contact that you have with fellow passengers to as little as possible. 

Rideshare Vehicles

If you are traveling via a rideshare vehicle, do not use the carpool option. Carpooling means increased proximity to several non-household members, as opposed to just one (your driver).

Similar to air travel, avoid accepting complimentary drinks or snacks that will require you to lower your face mask. If it is a short ride, avoid even snacks or drinks that you have brought from home. 

Carry a magazine or a book that you can read during your journey. This will ensure you do not have to handle any complimentary magazines that are in the vehicle. 

When possible, make sure to ride in the back seat instead of the passenger’s seat. This will create a level of distance between you and the driver. If possible, hire a rideshare vehicle that has a partition between the driver’s seat and the back seat, as this will significantly minimize the risk of virus transmission. 

If you are traveling this winter, make sure to research the area you are traveling to thoroughly before finalizing plans, and be aware of your own region’s case load. If COVID-19 is spreading rapidly in either place, you may want to reconsider your plans or choose a safer destination. Furthermore, make sure you have researched local guidelines well so that you can stay in compliance with any restrictions they might have. 

While travel this year will require you to be more careful than previously, traveling safely is possible. As long as you follow all local restrictions and guidelines and follow safety measures, this winter can be enjoyable!