COVID-19 is a respiratory infection that is transmitted in droplets that we spread when we breath or cough.
Several vaccines have been demonstrated to be effective and safe of which only two are so far approved in Canada, the Pfizer and the Moderna vaccines. Currently immunization is being managed by Public Health at centralized distribution centres due to the need to transport at -70 to -80 C for the Pfizer, and -20 C for the Moderna. Supply continues to be limited, but we are expecting seniors aged greater than 80 to begin immunization towards the middle of March. Several immunization centres are being setup currently. Health care workers will continue to be immunized through the hospital based clinics. Public health will be communicating directly with the public about when and how to sign up for your vaccine. No doctors' office has vaccine at this time, nor is there a plan in place at this time for us to get any. Vaccine is not available through any private route either. If you think you have found some from some company on the internet - it is indubitably fake. All COVID vaccines are uniquely being sold to government health agencies.
Dr.May getting the Pfizer vaccine!
Children and COVID
Note examining COVID outbreaks around the world all the way through 2020 - children are not the drivers of the outbreaks (they can still transmit and receive, but less frequently than adults). It is safe to send children to schools - especially in Ontario where we take more precautions in schools than several other jurisdictions. For children Influenza remains more dangerous than COVID. The prior year there were 7 times as many children in hospital due to influenza compared with COVID-19 last year, consequently fewer deaths. While children can transmit COVID, and can get very sick, they simply are much less likely to be the cause of transmission of COVID than adults are. In the United States, it was found that children who caught COVID were more likely to have attended parties, or gatherings, than to have attended school. The disruption in children's lives due to the COVID outbreak, whether it be due to family disruption from parents losing jobs, or losing social contacts, does appear to be causing problems - Pediatricians are saying that their wards are filling with children suffering from severe eating disorders.
Some treatments that have some benefit:
1) There is some evidence that Remdesivir can reduce duration of illness in those severely infected, but does not improve survivability. Remdesivir is an injected medication and is not available in pharmacies, and certainly not over the internet. Note that our local hospital does not carry remdesivir due to its dubious benefit.
2) Dexamethasone looks like it can improve outcomes for those with moderate disease or worse - that means in hospital and on oxygen. More of an effect is seen if used in somebody in ICU on a ventilator. It appears to worsen mortality in those who are not in this situation. Dexamethasone works by suppressing the immune system.
3) Tocilizumab looks beneficial, but it is only available to those with severe COVID illness in the ICU and is given by injection. It is not clear if it helps reduce mortality, but it does reduce ventilator usage.
4) There are some other monoclonal antibodies being examined but are not approved or available yet.
As this virus is spread by breathing out droplets, we are recommending people keep 2 metres or 6 feet from each other as droplets do not spread beyond that distance. This is actually quite a far distance. As this might not always be possible (passing someone in an aisle at the grocery store, for instance), we recommend that everybody wear a mask when going out. This mask is more to prevent you from transmitting virus to others, but if everyone is wearing a mask then transmission is reduced. Note that this is a new recommendation this year from experience in other countries. However, it is still not as effective as keeping the appropriate distance. Many people ask for medical exemptions. Only very unusually could a a medical exemption be justified - principally in those with severe intellectual delay who do not have the ability to self-regulate, or comprehend, and for those who would be unable to communicate distress (such as infants). Even once you are vaccinated - continue to take precautions like mask wearing and distancing as we need to prevent new variants developing for which the vaccine might not offer as good protection, and because we don't know that we can't continue to spread the disease even if we don't fall sick ourselves.
Treatment is really only supportive care - for example Tylenol for fever. Most cases are mild and should be taken care of by staying at home (in fact you must self-isolate at home if you have symptoms of a cold - only leave to go to emergency). You should seek medical help if you develop shortness of breath as breathing is important to life. If you are having pressure in your chest that gets worse when you do effort - you should go to the emergency room. Just because there is COVID-19 does not mean that people cannot get heart attacks! If you are an essential worker or you live in a retirement home or long term care residence you must get tested promptly if you have any symptoms of a cold, but anybody with symptoms is being encouraged to get tested. If you are uncertain if you have symptoms of COVID-19 - please go to the self assessment tool found on the covid-19.ontario.ca website.
To get tested - call the following numbers for an appointment depending on where you live:
Residents of Oakville, Milton, or Halton Hills - call the testing centre directly at 905-203-7963
Residents of Burlington - call 905-632-3737 ext 6550.
Residents of Mississauga / Peel - http://trilliumhealthpartners.ca/covid-19/A/assessment.html#starthere
Residents living elsewhere https://covid-19.ontario.ca/assessment-centre-locations/
Or call TeleHealth - 1 866-797-0000
For trustworthy information on COVID-19, please go to the sites below: