- Virus– a type of germ that consists solely of a bit of genetic material (DNA or RNA) wrapped in a protein coat. The coat gets the genes into the target cell where the genes force the cell to make zillions of new viruses (genes and protein coat), and on it goes.
- Variant- also known as a mutation, a variant strain of a virus is the same species of virus but with a change in the genetic code. The change is minor if it has no impact on contagious the new variant is, or how deadly it is, or if it allows the virus to neutralize our vaccines. Variants that substantially increase harm are now listed by Greek letters, the most troublesome one now is Omicron.
- Coronavirus– a species name of a number of different viruses. Called corona because its protein coat is studded with spike shapes that form a crown, halo, or corona of spikes
- SARS-CoV-2– the specific name of the new coronavirus
- COVID-19-the name of the illness that the new coronavirus is causing
- Endemic– an illness always present in a region. One could say strep throat is endemic in the US
- Epidemic– a sudden burst of an illness that comes and goes over a limited time
- Pandemic– an epidemic that bursts across the world not just one region
- Spreadability– how contagious is the disease, how many people will end up infected
- Symptoms- the experience of being ill, for example- fever, cough, headaches, loss of smell etc.
- Asymptomatic– literally means “without symptoms”. For COVID-19 it refers a person infected with the virus but has no and will have not symptoms
- Presymptomatic– This is a person who was infected with SARS-CoV-2, and will feel sick, but hasn’t yet
- Severity– what harm does the disease cause, in terms of how sick you get and how many it will kill
- Mask- a mask is a loose-fitting cloth or textile that covers the mouth and nose loosely. A surgical mask is a mask used in surgery
- Respirator- for the purposes of the COVID-19 pandemic and other respiratory illnesses, a respirator is a mask that fits very snugly or tightly to the user’s face. An N95 mask is a respirator.
- PCR Test– swabs the nose to detect the genes of the COVID virus. The genes if detected are almost certainly there, but they can persist long after contagion ends. Very few false positives, positives can be trusted.
- Antigen Test (the home kit)- swabs the nose to detect the proteins on the coating of the COVID virus, the spike proteins. If it does not detect those proteins, you are almost certainly not infected, negatives can be trusted. These proteins are also on the coating of many common cold viruses, so one positive test may indicate you have a cold rather than COVID. Two positive home tests though reliably indicate you have COVID.
- Vaccine Terms
- Vaccine or Immunization– a dose of a substance that activates your immune system, as if you have the actual infection you are hoping to prevent, leaving you in fact protected from having that infection.
- Efficacy– the percentage of people immunized with a particular vaccine who will not get infected if exposed to the target infection. For example, a COVID-19 vaccine will be said to be 95% effective if 95% of people immunized with that particular COVID-19 vaccine will not get COVID-19 if exposed to COVID-19
- mRNA– DNA works by dictating exactly which proteins your cell will make. The message on how to construct each protein is delivered to the cell machinery that makes proteins by a piece of genetic material called messenger RNA, or mRNA
- mRNA vaccine– an mRNA vaccine places a small bit of mRNA code that makes your cells make a protein that is the protein from a virus that alerts your immune system and activates it to make protections against you being infected
- Viral vector vaccine– a viral vector vaccine takes a harmless virus that is known to infect people reliably and places that weakened virus in a person where that virus will in fact infect the person. The virus is not only weakened, but also attached to a set of genes that makes your cells make a protein that is the protein from a virus that alerts your immune system and activates it to make protections against you being infected.
Time to Get Your Younger Children Protected from COVID
The great day is here! All reviews have agreed, the COVID vaccine (Moderna, or Pfizer) for our young children, ages 6 months up to age 5, has been approved, authorized, and recommended.
The COVID vaccine for our babies, toddlers, and pre-schoolers is now ready to be given. All we are waiting for in our office is receiving the actual vials and we can begin giving it!
My apologies for an earlier announcement that MyChart for our office would allow booking this vaccine starting on June 14, that capability did not open on June 14 and is not open today.
But we are told that the vaccine for the 6m-4y olds will be shipped to our office by next week. At this point, I think wisely, we will not book any appointments until we have more certainty of the actual arrival date of the vials.
We are very, very eager to make this protection available ASAP, while at the same time do not want to offer an appointment only to find out the vaccine is not here when you arrive to get it.
The very, very good news is that we will have this vaccine in hand, and be giving it everyone ages 6 months through 4 years old very soon.
A Reminder on the Power of Protection
Since our last post, we have learned that in children ages 5 years to 11 years old, those children who got the vaccine were 10 times less likely to be hospitalized or die from COVID! That is in line with adult impacts, and reminds every parent that getting your child vaccinated for COVID is an essential act of protecting your child’s life and well-being.
- The COVID vaccine is easily the most extraordinary step one can take to prevent death and disability from COVID.
- 1 million people are alive, in just the US today, solely because they got COVID vaccine.
- The choice is not whether or not to get the COVID vaccine, it is whether to get COVID immunized or not immunized. The facts are deadly clear, getting COVID not immunized is far more dangerous.
- We will have the Pfizer vaccine in our office, likely next week, at which point everyone we care for from ages 6 months old AND UP, can get protected against this terrible plague.
My One Takeaway Sentence:
COVID still is killing 100,000 of us every year, vaccination saves more lives than any other choice, starting next week you can ensure everyone in your family 6 months old and older gets protected!
To your health,
Dr. Arthur Lavin