Update as of Thursday | 09/10/20
In our effort to keep you up to date on the often confusing and contradictory news concerning COVID-19, we want to bring you some updates from what we consider reliable sources. In this case, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), and the University of Pennsylvania’s vaccine experts.
Statistics: According to the AAP and the Children’s Hospital Association, there have been over 500,000 children in the US who have been diagnosed with COVID-19, and 103 deaths. This is more deaths than a typical flu season, but a small percentage of the total overall cases. Nevertheless, the cases are rising, and will probably continue to do so in children now that schools have started. These numbers are reminders that we need to continue to take this virus seriously, and continue to wear face masks and practice social distancing.
Vaccine: As for a vaccine, Phase 3 trials would have to be completed and analyzed for such data as sample size, complications, rates of protection, and age group information. In order to get a vaccine out in 2020, it would require emergency use authorization before the Phase 3 trials are finished. Most would not feel comfortable receiving one at that point. Also, we would not know yet which of the multitude of vaccines being developed will emerge as the front runner. But on the positive side, these trials are being fast tracked due to no financial risk to the companies (the government is footing the bill) and the numerous companies working on them. Also, the risk of a serious long-term complication from any vaccine is still less than one in a million, so hopefully, sometime in 2021 it may be safe to receive a COVID-19 vaccine.
Influenza: Finally, we are seeing a predicted high demand for flu vaccine this season, in order to prevent a dreaded “twindemic”. We have an ample supply on the way, and have scheduled flu clinics over the next few months. We still have some parents refusing the flu vaccine for their child(ren), and we urge them to reconsider. The risk-reward is firmly on the side of getting a flu shot.
Update as of Tuesday | 08/25/2020
The following persisting myths concerning coronavirus have been proven false:
- The virus was engineered in a lab in China.
Even US Intelligence has denied this possibility.
- Wealthy elites have purposely spread the virus to gain power and wealth.
QAnon and anti-vaxer rhetoric.
- COVID-19 is no worse than the flu.
The flu is never asymptomatic and makes you quite ill, but doesn’t cause nearly the number of deaths.
- You don’t need to wear a mask.
Yes, you do! It’s our best defense.
- Hydroxychloroquine is an effective treatment.
No data to support this and lots of side effects.
- The Black Lives Matters protests led to an increased transmission.
It did not.
- Spikes in cases are due to increased testing.
The percentage of positive tests have gone up, therefore this myth is debunked.
- We can achieve herd immunity by letting the virus spread throughout the community.
For that to happen, 2/3’s of the population would have to get COVID-19, and that would lead to way too many deaths.
- Any vaccine would be unsafe and lead to a bigger risk than COVID-19.
If the CDC and other scientific groups deem it safe and effective, it would be wise to get, despite what anti-vaxer groups say.
Update as of Wednesday | 08/05/20
I am a fan of extracurricular activities, especially sports and band (of which I participated in both while attending high school). But as a Pediatrician, I applaud CHSAA’s decision to move some sports to the spring. I have been concerned that all of these pre-season workouts would only increase the COVID-19 incidence rate, and the start of school would see a rapid rise of cases and a quick closure of schools again. We need to prioritize our children’s education first. Interestingly, most student athletes I’ve talked to agree with this opinion.
We have been asked by some parents to write a note for school allowing their child to not have to wear a mask for health reasons. But the fact is, there are no health reasons that would preclude this. Studies have shown that patients with respiratory conditions, such as asthmatics, have no problems wearing masks. Actually, pulse oximetry, both with and without a mask, as well as exercising with or without one, show no difference in oxygenation. The cause of a child feeling that they are having breathing difficulty is anxiety. We can help with this if needed, with some tips from our counselors. Bottom line, we will not be writing those notes.
Of all the school plans I have heard about (mainly five days or two days a week), I like the few schools that are doing four days a week. This gives students the advantages of being at school, but also some experience in virtual learning in case school get shut down again.
Update as of Wednesday | 07/29/20
Let’s review some up to date information about COVID-19:
- What is considered a close contact, or exposure, to COVID-19?
The highest risk is a household contact of a positive case. Next is contact for more than 10 minutes and less than six feet away, and would include kissing, sharing food or drink, and being in the same childcare room, classroom, or carpool. Lower risks include being in the same building, or having been in a “hot spot”. Outdoor contacts are much safer than indoor ones.
- What are the symptoms?
Sometimes there are none. But the most common ones are cough, fever, and shortness of breath. Next are chills, sore throat, muscle aches, headache, and loss of smell or taste. Less common ones are runny nose, tiredness, vomiting or diarrhea.
- Who should get tested?
This is complicated since there still remains a shortage of tests. Our office has been trying to procure a quick diagnostic test (15 minutes), but we are still waiting. Presently, testing is prioritized for those who may be sick enough to need hospitalization, or those who have essential jobs that require this. Some colleges (foolishly) are requiring these too. (Just because one is negative one day doesn’t mean they won’t be positive the next). The antibody tests are unreliable, as they do not test specifically for COVID-19.
- What can parents do to protect their children from COVID-19?
Face masks are very helpful. Social distancing is also very helpful. Good hand washing is important. Keep your child’s body strong by insuring they get enough sleep, exercise, eat healthy, and keep a positive mind. Non-essential travel or gatherings are also ill advised.
- What about a vaccine?
Developing a safe and effective vaccine is the first step, and this could be accomplished by the end of this year. However, distribution remains a daunting task. In addition, persons will need two, and possibly three, shots for it to be effective. In order to develop the herd immunity necessary to rid us of this pandemic, at least 2/3 of the population will need to get the vaccine. That’s some 500 million shots or more!
EVERYONE SHOULD GET A FLU VACCINE THIS YEAR. WE WILL HAVE OURS BY SEPTEMBER AND ARE ALREADY PLANNING OUR CLINICS (WITH SOCIAL DISTANCING). LOOK FOR OUR ANNOUNCEMENT IN A FEW WEEKS ABOUT HOW TO SCHEDULE ONE.
- What about school?
This is a lose-lose situation. If one doesn’t attend in-person school, a child is missing important social interaction. If one does go in-person, they run the risk of catching COVID-19 and bringing it home. There are many factors to consider, such as high risk persons at home and parents who work. Overall, we recommend in-person if possible. Children generally do not get very ill from COVID-19 and seem to not spread it as easily.
- Are we seeing more cases in children recently?
Yes, but still very few, mostly diagnosed via telemedicine and testing. The cases have been mainly in teens playing sports, traveling, or within a household. We have had no patients ill enough to need hospitalization.
Update as of Tuesday | 06/30/2020
COVID PROTOCOL CHANGES – EFFECTIVE 07/01/2020
Masks: If there is one preventative measure we can all do to limit the spread of COVID-19 and save lives, it is to wear a mask in all public indoor places, as well as any outdoor areas with crowds. Wearing a mask helps to protect others, even though it may not totally protect oneself. Therefore, not wearing one is simply disrespectful. It should have nothing to do with personal freedoms. Certain things we cannot do because it infringes upon others’ personal freedoms—driving inebriated, smoking indoors, or running stop signs. Not wearing a mask can also injure someone. Many have asymptomatic disease, and wearing a mask helps prevents its spread.
Unfortunately, there are not many other therapies for COVID-19. Sure, social distancing and good hand washing help, but there are no medicines yet that are curative (one helps a little) and a vaccine may not be available for a while.
At Parker Pediatrics, as of 07/01/2020, we will require all patients age 2 and up, as well as any parents/guardians, to wear a mask while in our office. Please be sure to bring your masks with you. We only have a limited supply, subject to availability, that can be provided in the event you forget to bring them.
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Other Protocols: Starting 07/01/2020, we will also be changing some of the protocols which we have had in place.
- All patients will enter the reception area and take care of copays at the desk. There will be separate areas for well and acute.
- Patients will continue to be taken to their rooms quickly.
- There will be separate exits on both the well and acute sides, and only one way traffic, which will eliminate the need for reentering the reception area. Signs will be in place to direct traffic flow.
- We will continue to limit the numbers of appointments per hour and spread our day out to accomplish social distancing.
- We are still asking that you limit the number of individuals accompanying patients to appointments to only the minimum required.