Updated April 2021
What is Coronavirus or COVID-19?
COVID-19, originally known as 2019-nCoV, is a strain of a large family of coronaviruses which can be transmitted from animals to humans. It was first identified as the cause of a respiratory illness outbreak in Wuhan, China in November 2019. On March 11, 2020 the World Health Organization (WHO) declared COVID-19 a pandemic. (Pandemics affect the whole world, and not just a region).
Coronavirus is a type of virus that can cause the “common cold” although, at least 50% of colds are thought to be caused by Rhinovirus. The 2003 SARs outbreak was a type of coronavirus.
Can I get COVID if I’ve been vaccinated?
Yes, there have been many documented cases of getting COVID after being fully vaccinated. Remember that vaccines are not a magic bullet, you can still become infected with the virus, and it can multiply in your nose as mucous doesn’t have many antibodies. These vaccines work by knocking out an infection in your blood stream, so it won’t spread much past your mucous membranes (i.e. nose and lungs). This means you can still infect others with breathing, laughing, coughing and sneezing; it’s less likely that you’ll spread it than someone who isn’t vaccinated.
What’s the best vaccine for me?
The one you can get. 🙂
Most medical experts agree that the best vaccine for you in the one in your arm. Currently all the vaccines available to Americans using Emergency Use Authorization have been shown to prevent serious complications to COVID-19. Moderna and Pfizer’s have appear to reduce the risk of moderate disease as well.
I had COVID, can I get it again?
Yes. Sadly, there are a plethora of different strains circulating at this time and recovering from one doesn’t necessarily offer much protection from the other. Epidemiologists feel that those who recover from this virus will have some immunity if they are exposed again, but not a lot and not for very long. Getting infected again isn’t the end of the world, but no body wants to get sick all the time. To learn how this happens, click here for a very informative podcast. Don’t have an hour for Dr. Hyman’s podcast, my summary is next.
Why COVID immunity isn’t forever:
Ever wonder why you get about 2-3 colds each year? Most people who get infections from coronaviruses will only have protection for about 2-4 months. Coronaviruses are rather large in the virus world and when they infect you, your body creates an alphabet soup of antibodies but only a few are useful for detecting the virus before it can start causing harm. Because the immune response is all over the place, you don’t have nearly enough antibodies to keep you from getting reinfected. All the vaccines available today, tell your immune system to create very specific antibodies to the spike protein, which keeps it from infecting you whenever they make contact with the virus. Since they are mostly in the blood, they quell an infection quickly there, but can take longer to get through mucous like the inside of your nose.
I like use the following to simply this: Imagine Coronavirus is a blue color and is always changing hues (mutating). Your immune response is a giant box of crayons: the closer it matches, the better it can fight the virus. If you had COVID and your immune system fought it off, your jumbo box of crayons has all the colors of the rainbow but only a few blue ones help fight the virus. Some blues match better than others, but there are so many other crayons that don’t match at all. If you get a vaccine, your jumbo box of crayons only has shades of blue. They may not all match every time, but there are many more hues to choose from to match the virus, giving you a better chance to beat the virus.
What are common symptoms?
COVID-19 symptoms are similar to the cold or flu, and may take up to 14 days to appear after exposure to the virus. People with fever, cough and difficulty breathing should seek medical attention. Be vigilant as severe cases may lead to pneumonia, kidney failure or death from a severe immune response. Those at higher risk of getting very sick from COVID-19 include older adults, and people who have serious chronic medical conditions like heart disease, diabetes and lung disease, although young people are not immune from getting it, they are just more likely to recover. Getting a vaccine is your best protection against this disease causing serious harm to you.
Most people show signs of the illness within 5 days of exposure.
Mild symptoms may include:
- Shortness of Breath
- Sore Throat
- Runny Nose & Sneezing
- Muscle Aches & Pain (including headaches)
- Chills & Fatigue
- Impaired Liver & Kidney Function
How can you prevent the spread of COVID-19?
The World Health Organization (WHO) advises the following prevention methods:
Wash Hands Frequently
Scrub hands with soap for at least 20 seconds, THEN rinse with water. Soap needs time to kill the microbes on your hands and does a better job than alcohol-based hand rubs, like Purell or Germ-X. Hand sanitizer with at least 65-70% alcohol will work well if your hands are not visibly dirty; your hands should remain wet with the alcohol cleaner for at least 10 seconds for it to kill microbes.
Practice Respiratory Hygiene
When coughing and sneezing, cover mouth and nose with flexed elbow or tissue – discard tissue immediately into a closed bin and clean your hands with alcohol-based hand rub or soap and water.
Maintain Physical Distance
Maintain at least 6 feet of distance between yourself and other people, particularly those who are coughing, sneezing and have a fever. If you are close to someone, you can easily breathe in the virus.
Avoid Touching Eyes, Nose & Mouth
Hands touch many surfaces which can be contaminated with the virus. If you touch your eyes, nose or mouth with your contaminated hands, you can transfer the virus from the surface to yourself. Wearing glasses reduced how frequently you touch around your eyes.
Self-Isolate if You Think You’ve Been Exposed
If you have fever, cough OR difficulty breathing, you might have COVID-19. If you have traveled recently including places like the Seattle or New York City area, or if you have been in close contact with someone who has respiratory symptoms, please isolate yourself from others. This step is crucial to slow the spread and may mean the difference between keeping most of our grandparents safe or not.
If you have mild respiratory symptoms and have not traveled to hard-hit areas, don’t call your medical provider, and be sure to carefully practice basic respiratory and hand hygiene and stay home until you are recovered. Only contact your provider if you get severe symptoms like shortness of breath or a high fever.
Animal Proximity Precautions
Practice general hygiene measures when visiting farms, live animal markets, animal product markets or contact with wild animals. Ensure regular hand washing with soap and potable water after touching animals and animal products. There is some evidence that pets can get this but that is not very likely.
What are possible treatments of COVID-19?
Although there are a few different types of vaccines available, there remains no specific antiviral medicine to prevent or treat COVID-19. However, those affected should receive care to relieve severe symptoms and people with serious illness should be hospitalized. There are a few drugs like dexamethasone that have been shown to be helpful and most patients recover thanks to supportive care. The more we know about this disease the better we can treat it.
The most effective ways to protect yourself and others against COVID-19 are to frequently clean your hands, cover your cough with the bend of elbow or tissue, and maintain a distance of at least 6 feet from people who are coughing or sneezing.
To read more about what our office is doing to keep you safe during your next visit, check out our blog. As always, thanks to everyone for their patience and grace in these unprecedented times.
LAST UPDATED: April 20, 2021
For the most up-to-date information on possible vaccines, treatments, FAQs, news and more, please visit the following official health organizations:
World Health Organization (WHO)