Stay Informed on COVID-19 Issues

COVID-19 Updates

August 22, 2020

WHY WE NEED A VACCINE AGAINST COVID-19

This week, many medical offices, including ours, were contacted by the Georgia Immunization Program (GIP), concerning our interest in becoming a vaccination site for the Novel COVID-19 vaccine.  We are of course very interested in partnering with the GIP to help vaccinate our community when the vaccine becomes available.

 

People just want the Coronavirus to go away!  However, wishful thinking isn’t enough.  Many people are against vaccines for various reasons.  I am hoping that this post will encourage you to think more on the subject.

 

What is natural immunity? 

Infection with an actual disease results in natural immunity which may be for a limited time or for a lifetime depending on the disease.  Exposure to the disease organism triggers our immune system to make antibodies to fight the disease now and in the future.

 

What is vaccine-induced immunity?   

Introduction into the body of a killed or weakened form of the disease organism will trigger our immune system to make antibodies to fight the disease now and in the future. (Kids will love the story of Edward Jenner, cowpox, and the discovery of immunity to smallpox).

 

What is herd immunity? ‍‍‍ 

When a large percentage of people in a community has become immune to an infection, whether through vaccination or previous infections, it becomes more difficult for the disease to spread to susceptible individuals who have not yet, cannot or will not be vaccinated.

 

Why is vaccination against COVID-19 infection a better idea than relying on natural immunity?  

  • Whilst the majority of people who get COVID-19 infection recover from it, to date, we have lost 175,000 of our citizens, many elderly, and we’re learning that many people are not experiencing a complete recovery.

  • Natural infection with COVID-19 brings natural immunity 100% of the time (per Dr. Fauci), but no one knows as yet, for how long and all the factors that determine its duration.

  • Trying to achieve herd immunity by allowing the virus to naturally make its way through the population would be an amoral decision since it would mean putting many people at risk of dying or developing prolonged symptoms of the disease, unnecessarily. Unnecessarily, because we have several tools to protect lives until we have a safe and effective vaccine.  They are social-distancing, the wearing of face coverings when social distancing is not possible, robust hand washing and hand-sanitizing and testing, including surveillance testing.

  • Vaccines are a safer and more predictable way to develop immunity, without the risks associated with having the disease.

  • Everyone is concerned about safety since this is a new virus.  And there are other questions about whether or not vaccine immunity will wane.  If it does, then we will need to give boosters, which we already give for most vaccines.  For now though, we should probably focus on vaccine protection for one season and figure out later what would be needed in the future.

 

When can we expect a Coronavirus vaccine?

  • “Having a safe and effective vaccine distributed by the end of 2020 is a stretch goal for the American people”, said National Institute of Health (NIH) Director Francis S. Collins MD, Ph.D.

  • Moderna Therapeutics, is developing a vaccine against the Coronavirus and is headquartered in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

  • As of yesterday, they had enrolled 13,194 participants in the on-going late-stage 30,000-volunteer US trial.  Enrollment started in July and is expected to be completed in September.

  • This trial is amongst the first late-stage studies supported by the Trump administration’s effort to speed development of an effective vaccine to help end the pandemic.

 

Let’s pray for our country, the world and for our elected government officials as they make decisions that affect our lives.

 

“Let every person be subject to the governing authorities.  For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God”

Romans 13:1

 

- Charlene Blache MD

August 15, 2020

GOT COVID-19 BACK-TO-SCHOOL QUESTIONS?

 

The answers to several questions should be clear to parents, teachers and school administrators, in order to prevent the entry and spread of COVID-19 in schools and in the community.  Here are 6 important ones:

 

1. When should my child (student) stay home?  

 

Answer:

  • If they have symptoms of COVID-19 (fever at least to 100.4 degrees F, chills, cough, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, fatigue, muscle or body aches, headaches, new loss of taste or smell, sore throat, congestion or runny nose, nausea or vomiting, diarrhea)

  • If they are suspected of having COVID-19 and are awaiting test results

  • If they have a positive COVID-19 test (whether or not they have symptoms)

  • If they have been in close contact with someone who tests positive for COVID-19

 

In all the above situations, a medical provider should be involved in decision-making.

 

2.  What is the meaning of "close contact?"  

 

Answer:

  • Being within 6 feet of someone with COVID-19 for more than 15 minutes

  • Sharing a drinking class/eating utensils, physically touching the person/things that may have their germs, like dirty tissues

  • Being coughed or sneezed on

 

3.  Many COVID-19 symptoms are seen with other illnesses, so how will I know when my child should be tested for COVID-19?  

 

Answer: 

  • Most COVID-19 symptoms are non-specific, therefore teachers and students, quite often will need to be tested and should call their medical provider’s office for guidance.

 

4.  What do the terms “isolation” and “quarantine” mean?

 

Answer:

  • Isolation means keeping sick people away from healthy ones.  This usually means that the sick person rests in their own bedroom or area of your home with a face covering and keeps away from others as best as possible.  It is usually for a period of at least 10 days after the beginning of symptoms or 10 days after testing positive (when persons have no symptoms).

  • Quarantine means separating people who appear well, but were exposed to a sick person, away from others.  Because someone can spread COVID-19 before they have symptoms, quarantine stops them from accidentally spreading the virus to other healthy people.  People in quarantine should stay at home, avoid being around others and wear a face covering for a period of 14 days from the last day of contact with the sick person.

 

5. When would my child (student) be able to return to school after isolating?

 

Answer:

  • At least 10 days have passed since their symptoms started AND

  • They haven’t had a fever (100.4 F or greater) in at least 24 hours without using any medication to lower fever AND

  • Their other symptoms are getting better

 

6. If one of our children has to quarantine because he/she came in close contact with someone who has COVID-19, should our other children, who do not have symptoms, stay home too?

 

Answer:

No.  Your other children may continue to go to school.  However, if the child who was in close contact gets sick, then your other children should stay home.

 

Please remember to listen to and talk to your children in a calm and reassuring way, daily, about COVID-19 and the changes that they are having to handle at school.  Let them know that new actions will need to be taken from time to time in order to help protect them, the school’s staff, and their family.

 

“All things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to His purpose”.  

Romans 8:28 

- Charlene Blache MD

August 10, 2020

Making Sense of Testing and Retesting for COVID-19

 

Testing for COVID-19 is still not readily available to everyone in our country.  As such, COVID-19 testing resources should be used wisely and  heath professionals are the best ones to direct their usage in the most cost-effective ways.

 

Currently testing and re-testing requests can be directed at the following facilities:

  1. Department of public health (DPH).  This Is polymerase chain reaction (PCR) testing, that is free, not rapid (results take a few days), appointments are necessary and can be made by calling the DPH hotline at 1-844-955-1499.  This is a very well organized system that is efficient, effective and includes contact tracing for positive cases.

  2. Smith Northview Hospital (SGMC). This is a drive through clinic (no appointment needed), rapid PCR testing (though results may not be available to you until next day because of high volumes), person must have signs or symptoms of COVID-19 or have a request from a doctor’s office or other facility that is necessitating testing.  This is not a free service and insurance will be billed where applicable.

  3. Doctors’ offices and urgent care centers, many of which are now offering rapid antigen testing available in 15 minutes as well as the more sensitive (truly negative when test is negative) PCR testing that will take a few days for results.  You will mainly be asked to pay cash for the rapid test and your insurance will be billed for the PCR test which may be needed if the rapid test is negative but COVID-19 is still strongly suspected.  

  4. Local private labs like Lapcorp; which will require an order from a health care professional unless they contract directly with your health insurance company.

  5. Pharmacies like CVS whose protocol is specific and should be contacted directly for details before showing up.

 

Lastly, I would just like to summarize the CDC’s most recent guidelines on the 4 populations for which COVID-19 testing with viral tests (PCR and rapid antigen tests) is appropriate.  They are people who:

  • Have signs or symptoms of COVID-19 

  • Have no symptoms but recently had contact with someone known or suspected to have COVID-19

  • Have no symptoms and no known contact with someone known or suspected to have COVD-19 but still may be tested for early identification in special settings

  • May be tested by public health officials to track spread of the virus that causes COVID-19

 

Here is a big change to the guidelines as of July 17th, “Except for rare situations, a test-based strategy is no longer recommended when an individual with COVID-19 infection is no longer infectious” and has to return to work, play or other setting.  The reason for this change is that many people continue to shed the dead virus for weeks to months after they have sufficiently self-isolated and that shedding may cause their tests to be positive even though they are no longer infectious.  This change significantly decreases the need for retesting after people have recovered from COVID-19 infection.

- Charlene Blache MD

June 23, 2020

Why Should I Wear a Mask?

 

Healthcare professionals wear special N95 masks to protect them from getting infected in medical facilities.  But simple cloth masks when worn by anyone can prevent the spread of infection to others.

 

HOW WOULD MY WEARING A MASK MAKE A DIFFERENCE?

If we lower the chance of one person infecting just one other person, the impact is great!

Every infectious disease has a reproduction rate, called R.  When it is 1.0 that means that the average infected person infects one other person.  COVID-19’s rate when we don’t wear masks and practice social distancing, is at least 2.4. A disease dies out if its R falls under 1.0.  The lower the number, the faster the disease dies out.

 

HOW EFFECTIVE IS MASK-WEARING?

This depends on three things: 

  •  The basic reproduction rate, R, of the virus in the community

  • The effectiveness of masks in blocking spread of the virus

  • The percentage of people wearing masks

 

HOW EFFECTIVE ARE CLOTH MASKS?

The main way in which COVID-19 is transmitted is via droplets that fly out of our mouths when we cough, sneeze and even speak.  Some of those droplets become tiny particles which are easy for us to inhale.  Research shows that even wearing cloth masks will greatly reduce the number of virus particles coming out of our mouths, by as much as 99%.  This reduction has 2 huge benefits:

  - With fewer virus particles hanging around, people are less likely to become infected.

  - If people become infected, they are likely to be less sick because their viral-exposure load is lower.

 

HOW MANY PEOPLE NEED TO WEAR MASKS TO STOP THE SPREAD OF COVID-19?

Models show that if 80 percent of people wear masks that are 60 percent effective, we can get to an R of less than 1.0.

 

WHY SHOULD I WEAR A MASK EVEN THOUGH I FEEL FINE?

COVID-19 has been hard to control partly because people can infect others before they themselves show any symptoms and even if they never become sick.  Many people are not aware of the risk they pose to others, because they don’t feel sick and may never become sick with symptoms.  Wearing masks is a “public good”: something we can all contribute to that eventually benefits everyone.

May 11, 2020

New COVID-19 Symptoms Reported in Youth

Pediatric Multi-System Inflammatory Syndrome is the name that doctors have now given to the Kawasaki-like syndrome which has been afflicting some children who are positive for COVID-19. Kawasaki disease is well known to pediatricians as a condition that causes inflammation in the walls of some blood vessels in the body. The cause is unknown but is believed to be related to an infection or an abnormal immune response to an infection. It usually affects children less than 6 years of age and has been a rare disease. It is treatable but must be managed early to decrease the risk of heart complications.

 

Here are the common signs of Kawasaki disease:

 

  • High fever for 5 or more days

  • Redness of the eyes

  • Redness and cracking of the lips

  • Strawberry tongue

  • Peeling of the hands, feet and diaper area

  • Rash on the body

  • Swollen lymph nodes in the neck

  • Irritability

  • Pain in the abdomen or joints

  • Diarrhea or vomiting

 

Please get in contact with Dr Blache or Dr Gayle by calling our office during office hours (229-241-0059)
or after-hours (through our phone triage nurse at 1-855-553-2185):


*If your child develops a high fever and any of these symptoms
*If your child has a high fever for 3 days or more and no other symptoms
*If your child has been in close-contact with someone positive for COVID-19

We are now able to have Telehealth visits with our patients when appropriate and/necessary. These are
video visits that allow you to communicate with a provider whilst you are at home. These visits are very
convenient and are now being covered by all insurances because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

- Charlene Blache MD

P: (229) 241-0059

F: (229) 241-2088

406-M Northside Drive

Valdosta, GA 31602

Copyright © 2020 Southern Pediatric Clinic.

All rights reserved.

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