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COVID-19 Update May 14, 2021: SAFE! The End of the Pandemic Begins, for the Vaccinated; Update on COVID Vaccination at Advanced Pediatrics

By Dr. Arthur Lavin

Glossary

  • Virus– a type of germ that consists solely of a bit of genetic material (DNA or RNA) wrapped in a protein coat.  The coat gets the genes into the target cell where the genes force the cell to make zillions of new viruses, and on it goes.
  • Coronavirus– a species name of a number of different viruses.  Called corona because its protein coat is studded with spike shapes that form a crown, halo, or corona of spikes
  • SARS-CoV-2– the specific name of the new coronavirus
  • COVID-19-the name of the illness that the new coronavirus is causing
  • Endemic– an illness always present in a region.  One could say strep throat is endemic in the US
  • Epidemic– a sudden burst of an illness that comes and goes over a limited time
  • Pandemic– an epidemic that bursts across the world not just one region
  • Spreadability– how contagious is the disease, how many people will end up infected
  • Symptoms- the experience of being ill, for example- fever, cough, headaches, loss of smell etc.
    • Asymptomatic– literally means “without symptoms”.  For COVID-19 it refers a person infected with the virus but has no and will have not symptoms
    • Presymptomatic– This is a person who was infected with SARS-CoV-2, and will feel sick, but hasn’t yet
  • Severity– what harm does the disease cause, in terms of  how sick you get and how many it will kill
  • Mask- a mask is a loose-fitting cloth or textile that covers the mouth and nose loosely.  A surgical mask is a mask used in surgery
  • Respirator-  for the purposes of the COVID-19 pandemic and other respiratory illnesses, a respirator is a mask that fits very snugly or tightly to the user’s face.  An N95 mask is a respirator.
  • Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)- PPE are any item that covers any part of the body with the design and intent of keeping viruses in the environment from infecting the wearer of the PPE. PPE’s include all masks (which includes respirators), face shields, eye shields, gloves, gowns.
  • Ventilator- a ventilator is a machine that can force a person unable to breathe to inhale and exhale and control both effectively.  They are sometimes called respirators, but during this pandemic the word respirator is now reserved for reference to a tightly fit mask.
  • Live Virus Swab– this is the swab which attempts to swipe live virus from one’s nose or throat to see if you are currently infected.
  • Antibody Test- (aka serology test) this is the blood test which looks for antibody to the SARS-CoV-2 virus to see if you have been infected in the past.
  • Vaccine Terms
    • Vaccine or Immunization– a dose of a substance that activates your immune system, as if you have the actual infection you are hoping to prevent, leaving you in fact protected from having that infection.
    • Efficacy– the percentage of people immunized with a particular vaccine who will not get infected if exposed to the target infection.  For example, a COVID-19 vaccine will be said to be 95% effective if 95% of people immunized with that particular COVID-19 vaccine will not get COVID-19 if exposed to COVID-19
    • mRNA– DNA works by dictating exactly which proteins your cell will make.  The message on how to construct each protein is delivered to the cell machinery that makes proteins by a piece of genetic material called messenger RNA, or mRNA
    • mRNA vaccine– an mRNA vaccine places a small bit of mRNA code that makes your cells make a protein that is the protein from a virus that alerts your immune system and activates it to make protections against you being infected
    • Viral vector vaccine– a viral vector vaccine takes a harmless virus that is known to infect people reliably and places that weakened virus in a person where that virus will in fact infect the person.  The virus is not only weakened, but also attached to a set of genes  that makes your cells make a protein that is the protein from a virus that alerts your immune system and activates it to make protections against you being infected.

SAFE!

The End of the Pandemic Begins, for the Vaccinated

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention made a historic announcement yesterday, based on some rather astounding trends and new observations:

If you are fully immunized, in the United States as of now, you are no longer at reasonable risk of catching COVID and you are no longer at reasonable risk of spreading COVID.

In other words, in the United States, if you are one of the currently 117 million Americans who are fully vaccinated (2 weeks past your final dose), then your Pandemic has come to an End, you are Safe.  

With this one exception- you can still be in danger if you are in places of heavy exposure.  Heavy exposure would be in crowds packed tightly with unimmunized people, or if a mutation arrives that the vaccine cannot protect against and spread rages once more.

What does Safe mean?

At any age, if you are fully immunized, we now know that you are very, very unlikely to catch COVID, period.   That is true for the usual COVID, and it is true for all the variants spreading in the US now.  That means if you are in a shop or restaurant or baseball game sitting next to a person with COVID, you will not catch it from them, except in very rare instances.

And, we now know, and this is information the CDC has gathered and proven only in the last 2 weeks and announced yesterday, that if you are fully immunized, you cannot spread the virus to anyone else.  This fact is a major game changer.

We also know that if you are fully immunized with any vaccine for COVID available in the US today, you will not die from COVID.  So, even if you are unfortunate to be one of the very few fully immunized to catch COVID, the chance your infection will be mild is nearly 100%.  The chance you will get seriously ill is very close to ZERO.  The chance that you will die from COVID is very close to ZERO.

What can you do now that you are SAFE?

Pretty close to anything.

If you are fully immunized, and therefore, Safe, that means anything you do will not hurt you or hurt others when it comes to COVID.

That means you can go to any activity, to any business, to any play event, to any travel, to any gathering, to any celebration, inside or outside, without a mask, without social distancing, and know you are Safe.  And know you will not seriously ill from COVID, chances are you cannot catch it, and you cannot spread it.

What can’t you do?

Until the spread of COVID is truly ended, once enough people are fully vaccinated, you cannot enter any space that requires everyone to wear a mask, without a mask.  And you need to still be careful about large crowds, and congregate living spaces such as nursing homes, prisons.

What about the unimmunized?

The dawn of the End of the Pandemic for the immunized grants no protection to the unimmunized.

COVID transmission is dropping, but still happens.  We just heard of a major outbreak amongst the team and families and friends of the Orange boys lacrosse team this week.  So, if you are not immunized, you can still catch COVID and it can still hurt or kill you.

As of now, anyone ages 12 and older who is unimmunized, is unsafe by choice.  COVID vaccines are widely available, and so the harm that COVID can cause (which remains enormous if you are unprotected) is now limited to the 211 not yet fully immunized Americans.

For the unimmunized, full protections to avoid getting COVID remain urgent and necessary.  This includes staying away from other people and if together, wearing a mask and staying socially distanced.  It means avoiding gathering in restaurants, places of business, places of play, all the steps we all took before we got immunized.

What about our children 11 years old and younger?

Unfortunately, and not by their choice, children 11 years of age and younger cannot be immunized, yet.  Pfizer announced recently that they expect to make immunization available to all children ages 2 and up by September, so this situation will persist for those ages 2-11 until September, and ages 0-1 sometime after that.

For now, everyone ages 11 and under needs to continue to take precautions, avoiding gathering, and if outside the home, wearing a mask if able, and being careful to stay socially distanced.

At home, just as during the pandemic prior to immunization, a family can of course continue to gather with no masks and no social distancing.  And one household that is immunized can gather with one that is not without masking or social distancing.  Even two partially immunized households can do the same.   But it remains advised that if a household is not fully immunized, they should not visit or gather more than one other household at a time, indoors.

For families where young children are not immunized, it remains safe to gather outdoors with masks and distancing.

Update on COVID Vaccination at Advanced Pediatrics

We are very pleased with the response to making COVID vaccine available at our office.

The group that had not been immunized that we were able to help were those children 12-15 years old, a small slice of all who are cared for here.

As a result we have been able to provide immunization appointments for all who wanted them mostly this and next week.

As of May 25, the demand for COVID vaccine is low enough that we will be recommending those with children ages 12 and up obtain their COVID vaccine at their local pharmacy, we will be happy to provide any prescription necessary to do so.  This means we will not be offering first dose COVID vaccine in our office as of May 25.  All those who received their first dose here will get their second does here.

This September, when the COVID vaccine is expected to be approved for all children ages 2 and up, we anticipate resuming provision of the COVID vaccine, 1st and 2nd dose, here at Advanced Pediatrics.

Safety of COVID vaccine for children

The evidence for the safety of the COVID vaccine is overwhelming.   Over 1.3 billion people have received it and have had an astonishing level of safe responses.   The main risk for those getting the Pfizer vaccine, the only one available for ages 12-17, is severe allergic reaction, and that is very, very rare.

Now, anyone can go online and claim any treatment can cause any harm, nothing to stop one.  So people can claim the COVID vaccine causes anything, but the question is what do we actually see.  And the only thing we have seen so far are very, very rare allergic reactions.  There is no evidence or any reason to guess that the COVID vaccine has any impact on anyone’s fertility, at any age.  And we can say the same for all the other allegations thrown so easily on the Internet against this truly life-saving treatment.

So we urge all parents to have all their children ages 12 and up immunized so they never suffer the very real harms that come from COVID itself!

Bottom Lines

  1. For the first time since writing these posts in Real Answers on COVID, we can announce that the End of the Pandemic has officially begun!
  2. For the 117 million fully vaccinated Americans, of all ages 12 and up, we now know that with rare exception you cannot catch COVID, you cannot spread COVID.  And to nearly 100%, you cannot die of COVID!
  3. This new land of being Safe, is dependent on not being in places of high COVID transmission.  So in a packed indoor hall, or a very tightly packed outdoor event, the immunized may not be so safe, and need to mask and distance.
  4. This means, for the fully immunized, since you cannot catch it or spread it in nearly every setting, you are free to live without precaution for COVID.  No mask, no distancing.  Free to travel.  Free to visit.  Free to work.  Free to play.  Again, the only situation that might be different is in large, closely packed crowds indoors or out.
  5. For those 12 and up who have chosen, or had the decision made for them, to not get the COVID vaccine, the chance of catching COVID, right now, remains very, very, very real.  People are still dying of it, people are still being harmed by it.  Rates are down, but not zero.  If you are not immunized, you need to stay away from the virus, meaning other people.  And if with others, wear a mask and keep distant, and not travel, and not gather.
  6. For those 11 years old and younger, the situation is not very different.  You cannot be immunized, so all our children of this age need to remain careful, and stay away from the virus as mentioned for those older who chose not to be protected.
  7. Finally, Advanced Pediatrics was very pleased to offer COVID vaccine to all those 12 and older, and pleased with the many, many who responded.  We find that enough people responded this and next week that we simply do not have enough demand to continue giving first doses as of May 25.  All second doses for those immunized here will be given here as scheduled.

My Takeaway – In One Sentence:

For the first time, we are able to officially state that a huge number of people, 117 million fully vaccinated Americans, are Safe, their Pandemic is essentially over; and, we are thrilled, thrilled for them, and for the time when we all be Safe.

To your health,
Dr. Arthur Lavin

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