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Stay Calm Amid Worries About the J&J Vaccine

From the NY State Commissioner of Health,

“As the CDC and FDA have said, any adverse events related to the Johnson &
Johnson vaccine ‘appear to be extremely rare’ and, ‘People who have received
the J&J vaccine who develop severe headache, abdominal pain, leg pain, or
shortness of breath within three weeks after vaccination should contact their
health care provider.’

Stay Calm and Get Vaccinated

Currently anyone over the age of 16 is eligible to receive a COVID-19 vaccine. I have received numerous questions about whether or not I recommend the vaccine.

I do recommend getting the vaccine. The vaccines are safe. The side effects are minimal. Most people experience side effects comparable to any other vaccine, sore arm and mild achiness. There are reports of fatigue and feeling ill after the second vaccine, but the majority of people tolerate it very well. Any other scheduled vaccine should be 2 weeks apart. We will gladly accommodate that requirement.

If you have a reaction, you should stay home for 48 hours, but you do not need to be tested for COVID-19 per protocol if you have fever, chills,  fatigue, muscle/joint pains or headache.

COVID-19 protocol still requires testing for symptoms that are unlikely to be caused by the vaccine such as runny nose, congestion, cough, shortness of breath, sore throat or loss of sense of smell or taste.

Studies have shown that the vaccines are safe for nursing mothers and pregnant women. Transmission of antibodies to babies via the placenta and breastmilk have  been demonstrated.

Which vaccine is best? The one you can get. They are all approved by the FDA and are effective. The most important fact is that they prevent hospitalization and serious infection. There is still a possibility that you could contract COVID-19 infection but it would be a much milder illness – similar to a bad cold.

Some of the unknowns are whether or not a vaccinated person could be a carrier without knowing it. Studies suggest this is not the case. However, it is still crucial to continue to wear masks and follow recommended guidelines for social distancing. 

The vaccines are recorded in the NY State Immunization Registry, you do not need to call the office with that information.

 

COVID-19 Vaccine and Teens

Most of you have probably read or heard that starting April 6th, anyone 16 years and older will be eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine. That is awesome news. Currently the Pfizer vaccine is approved for 16 years and older, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson 18 years and older.

At this time, our office is unable to offer any of the vaccines due to ordering and administration constraints. The Pfizer vaccine can only be ordered in quantities of 1075 doses and all doses need to be administered in 7 days. It also has to be stored at -70 degrees Celsius (my freezer is -30 degrees). The other vaccines have to be ordered in 100 doses with the same administration requirements. I do not have enough patients who would qualify for the vaccine to be able to order them.

The vaccines will be available through all the current sites. For patients under 16,  you can explore the study described in my previous post.

Now the bad news, the number of new cases in NY and Monroe County are rising. This is not the time to relax precautions. Please Stay Calm but wear a mask, stay distanced and follow the current guidelines.

Best wishes for a Happy Easter, Passover and Ramadan.

Stay Calm and Mourn the Passage of a Friend and Mentor

It is with great sadness that acknowledge the passing of Dr. David Shuttleworth on March 19th, 2021. Many of you will remember him as a doctor with whom I shared call. In 1981, he and Dr. Donald Frank (my pediatrician) welcomed me into the private practice of pediatrics. Dr. Shuttleworth, especially, become more than an associate — he was a mentor, a confidant and most importantly a dear friend. He will be sorely missed.

Stay Calm and Move a Little Closer (in Schools)

Great news today. The CDC has reviewed a number of studies that found distancing 3 feet instead of 6 feet in schools was equally safe. Today they have published recommendations that all schools can function with 3 feet distancing as long as masks are worn and transmission rates of COVID-19 are “low.” 6 feet distancing still remains for the general public and in restaurants and bars.  This is great news for those who have been clamoring for schools to return to more normal schedules.

Also, for those who have been inquiring about studies of the COVID-19 vaccines in children,  Golisano Children’s Hospital at Strong is a study site. Two of my good friends Dr. Mary Caserta and Dr. Jennifer Nayak of the division of infectious diseases are heading the study and informed me that if you are interested you can look into eligibility at the  BringBackRoc website to click on “get started”.  Once on the sign up form t put in the child’s age and it will then populate places for parents contact info.  They are  contacting families by email, but in the last couple of days there has been a large number of sign-ups so please to be patient!

On a little more negative note, 13 states are reporting increasing numbers of cases over the past week.  In the words of Yogi Berra, “this ain’t over until it’s over” and the COVID-19 has proven to be a formidable adversary.

So, as we welcome Spring for the second time during this pandemic, let’s be optimistically hopeful, but cautiously careful.

 

Appointment reminders

Happy March everyone. Hope you all are well.

Starting today, we are sending out appointment reminders via text message and email. This is very dependent on whether or not we have up to date records so the rollout might be a little spotty. If you have a problem or have questions, please feel free to call us.

NY AAP Press Statement

Happy Valentine’s Day!

It has been awhile… I guess it means there has been nothing pressing to pass on.  From a COVID-19 standpoint, the numbers are improving with rates hovering around 2% now. It is still very important to wear masks, even 2, stay socially distanced and avoid contacts.

On another note, as president of the Upstate NY Chapter of the American of Pediatrics, I was involved with the crafting of this very important statement.

“The American Academy of Pediatrics New York Chapters condemn violence, especially when perpetrated by authorities, and calls for developmentally appropriate and humane treatment of children by the police. Children who are out of control or acting out should be engaged by professionals who are trained to de-escalate highly charged situations. To do otherwise contributes to traumatizing experiences with long-lasting effects on child health and development.

Adults and children in a mental health crisis need to be cared for by trained mental health first responders, and not by the police alone. The Urban League of Rochester and the Children’s Agenda have noted this, and we stand with them in calling for change.

We also note, as they have, that bias may play a part in how children are approached by the police. We quote here from the AAP Statement on Racism, “Differential treatment of youth offenders on the basis of race shapes an individual’s participation and ultimate function in society.” The AAP has prioritized addressing racism as a pediatric health problem, and acknowledged its own shortcoming with regards to race over the years. We call on the police to do the same so that all children can be safe and healthy.”

Happy New Year

Happy New Year

I celebrated New Year’s Day be getting my first dose of the vaccine.  I recently listened to a podcast with an infectious disease expert. One question posed to him was which is the best vaccine? The answer? The one that is available to you.  Great answer.

We are all thrilled that 2020 is behind us and look forward to a fresh start with 2021. Even with the arrival of 2 COVID vaccines, it is going to take months before we will see the light at the end of the tunnel. And, even then, the new normal is very likely to be significant different from the old normal.  The Finger Lakes region continues to see record numbers of new cases every day. And this is before we see the effects of Christmas and New Years get togethers.

We need to be more careful than ever. Please stay home. Wear a mask and keep your distance.

 

Please Stay Calm But Much More Careful

We all see the rising numbers of daily new cases, but on an individual note think we are all doing well, limiting contacts to “close” circles.  In our practice, I have seen a huge jump in the numbers of positive tests. In September, it took me ordering 98 tests before seeing my first positive case. Now,  I see 1-2 positive tests daily. Luckily, it has all been relatively minor illness, but that is not a guarantee.

I just saw a simulation run by students at MIT. They “put” 10 people in a 20 x 20 foot room. If all 10 were unmasked (eating a meal at a table), 1 positive person would transmit the virus to another person in 18 minutes. If everyone wore a cloth mask, it adds 6 minutes to that time. If a window was open, it adds 10 minutes. If everyone wore a “surgical procedure” mask, it adds 2 hours.  Think about it… masks do make a difference.

The promise of effective vaccines and eventual “herd” immunity is good news, but it is going to take months before we achieve that goal. We all look forward to saying goodbye to 2020 with great expectations for 2021 to be much better, but it is not going to be an overnight change.

Please be smart, stay home, if you go out, wear masks and stay distanced from others.  We will get through this.

Happy Holidays!

As 2020 (good riddance to a really difficult year) comes to a close, we are all looking forward to a better 2021. But let me add that there have been many wonderful and happy events in 2020, like the births of babies, (our new grandson included), weddings and other life cycle celebrations, and graduations to name a few. We have certainly learned to celebrate them in ways like never before, but nonetheless very special. Many of us have also experienced the loss of a loved one or friend during the past year and had to deal with it in a wholly different manner.

We “flattened the curve” earlier in the year, only to see COVID-19 return to our area more ferociously in a new wave, setting daily records for new cases, hospitalizations and deaths. The approval of two effective and safe vaccines promises to finally provide us with weapons to fight the spread of COVID-19. But it is not an overnight remedy; it is going to take many more months and a herculean effort to put COVID-19 behind us, much like polio and smallpox in the past.

Now, more than ever, we have to stay smart and continue to avoid contacts.  I receive numerous calls, emails, or pingMD encounters daily asking for testing because someone in a family has been in contact with someone who tested positive. These are most commonly from the “small” gatherings that the governor and Dr. Mendoza have been warning us about, or youth sports.  We all think we are very careful and this couldn’t happen to us, but, guess what? Everyone thinks the same way and this is where the spread comes from. I have several families in which one family member met with a “few” friends, only to be exposed and infected by COVID-19, and, ultimately, transmitted it to everyone in the household. THIS IS SERIOUS STUFF!

We are tired of isolation and not being able to celebrate holidays and life events with our families and friends. We are tired of wearing masks. I am tired of wearing PPE most of the day and shoving swabs up patients’ noses because of exposures. I thought we had proven that we could knock this virus down and that we would be able to resume our lives this fall and winter. I was wrong.

Friends who are professors at RIT shared this graphic about the efficacy of wearing masks.  Even the Dr. Mendoza stresses the fact that if both people involved in an exposure wear masks, it can significantly decrease the risk of transmission of COVID-19 to the point where it is not considered a “contact.”

But, if you or a family member is exposed, you must quarantine for 14 days from the last date of exposure. (There are many variations on this theme, so I won’t go into the specifics here.) An exposed person does not need a test for the virus unless they develop symptoms. A negative test does not shorten the length of quarantine. Nor does it guarantee that you will not develop the infection during the at-risk period.

The best way to avoid all these scenarios is to stay away from gatherings and always wear a mask outside of your home.  The best gift you can give your loved ones and friends this holiday season is the gift of good health. Thank goodness for technology.  It is not the same as being with people in person, but Zoom, Facetime, Skype, Team or what other platform you use, will allow you to safely be loved ones without risking your and their health.

PLEASE… Stay Calm, Stay Home and Stay Masked so that we can all once again get together in the coming year.

From all of us at Lewis Pediatrics, myself, Bess, Betsy, Jean, Margie, Rebecca, and Harper, we wish you a happy and healthy holiday season as well as a wonderful 2021 in which we can all see a return to a new and better “normal.”