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Covid Advice #13 (12/24/2020):
Get Vaccinated,
What to Do If Exposed to Covid

- from Dr. Dennis Fong -

Happy Holidays!

I write to say: do get vaccinated. The vaccines are safe, much safer than getting Covid. The first two Covid vacines have come out, Pfizer's and Moderna's. As hospital frontline staff since I go see my patients every day when they are in the hospital, I got my first Pfizer dose Saturday Dec. 19, and I feel just fine. All Covid vaccines are under government control; doctors and pharmacies can't just buy them from the companies like we can with the flu and other vacciness. So far the vaccines have been distributed to major hospitals for frontline staff, and nursing home residents and staff are next in line. The authorities, however, still haven't told us when the general public is going to get them, who is going to be giving the shots, or how the population is going to be categorized for priority.

But when it does become available for you, do get vaccinated. And don't get Covid. Again, we don't know what the long term side effects are. First, Covid can affect every organ, can get into every human cell. Second, unlike any other virus we know of, Covid causes widespread clotting, and that can give you silent or not-so-silent heart attacks and strokes. Third, there are maybe 10%, or maybe even more, of the people who've had Covid who are "long haulers", who get tiredness, brain fog, shortness of breath, etc., for months after, even though their cases may have been mild. Fourth, 60% of the people after Covid, and their cases don't have to be severe, we've found to have heart inflammation on MRI, and even with no symptoms that can't be good. Fifth, possibly there are long term brain effects from Covid.

So don't get it. There are just too many silent spreaders around. Besides the strong personal protection I urge in my last Covid Advice of November 16 and in every Covid advice published here, I urge you to also get vaccinated.

What to Do If You Get Exposed to Covid:

Because of the explosion in Covid and therefore in the number of silent spreaders, this is happening quite frequently. People are getting calls saying that a person they've been in close contact with recently have been diagnosed with Covid.

The first thing to do is to quarantine yourself from the rest of the family until your Covid test and your family's Covid tests come back negative. Assuming you did catch it, Covid often takes a few days to become infectious, and even the spouse you've been sleeping with may not have caught it from you yet, so it's possible to keep the rest of the family from getting it. In more than one couple where one person actually had Covid and was already having symptoms, because the patient reported the symptoms to me early enough and I had the patient immediately quarantine from the spouse, the spouse ended up not getting Covid.

So you should be like a prisoner in your room and the others in the family can do the cooking and give you food and drink by cracking the door open. Before the family touches the same things you've touched they should disinfect them, especially metal objects like taps and door handles. Alcohol is great as a disinfectant, it's instant kill, just like how when we give you a shot, we wipe the arm with alcohol and we can give you the shot right after. The family should take precautions with the fridge and freezer, because while Covid lives only 2 days on the couch and 5 days on plastic, glass and smooth ceramic, Covid can live 1 month in the fridge and 5 years in the freezer. So cook all refrigerated foods well, and do not eat raw vegetables like salads. Also, after handling food from the fridge that you've touched, the family should disinfect or wash their hands, the kitchen counter and the implements used. It wouldn't hurt to disinfect the inside of the fridge. Try to have a bathroom all to yourself. Try to keep the floor space you walk on yours only. Try to avoid being with each other indoors, and if you have to, wear masks, stay the distance, and keep it to no more than a few minutes. You may meet outdoors, with masks on, and 10 to 12 feet apart -- I think 6 feet is too close, that's more for influenza -- and only for short periods. Open the doors and windows from time to time to keep your quarantine room and the house well ventilated so any Covid particles from your breath and talk hanging around in the air get carried away and not build up.

The above also applies if you get diagnosed with Covid.

Of course, get tested, both yourself and your family. To avoid false negatives, which can lead to tragedy, we recommend waiting 5 to 7 days from exposure if you have no symptoms, but test right away if you get symptoms. Since Covid can attack anywhere, any infectious symptoms including fever, diarrhea, undue fatigue, ear infection, sore throat and so forth count as symptoms too, not just the classic ones of cough and loss of smell or taste.

And if you do get symptoms, report them to the doctor right away.

As to where to get tested, the Contra Costa County vaccination sites are great, it's drive through, therefore quite safe, and you get results in one day. Make sure you send the results to the doctor. You have to phone to get an appointment, and sometimes they get overwhelmed and you have to wait a few days. For other testing sites, call the doctor's office for advice and ordering.

Again, Happy Holidays! Stay healthy and stay safe!

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