Staying COVID Smart

Apr 23, 2021

By Barret Procyshyn, Pharmacist at Dauphin Clinic Pharmacy

Manitoba is starting to experience its 3rd wave of the COVID-19 pandemic. The Parkland and specifically Dauphin area is seeing its case numbers trending upward. While it is not time to panic, we need to make sure we are doing as much as possible to keep us safe, our families protected and our businesses open. Agree with the handling of the COVID-19 pandemic or not, the government will step in if case numbers become too high. If you are not using precautions for health reasons, do it so we can keep getting haircuts, tattoos, dining out or playing golf and baseball. If you were not aware; currently in Ontario none of these activities are currently permitted for a six-week period. Here is a quick question and answer to the most common questions I see people asking?

Where is COVID spreading? COVID-19 cases are mainly spreading indoors, where there is close contact for extended periods of time. This included homes, indoor workspaces and in vehicles. Indoor events like house parties, funerals and children's playdates seem to be the most common. If you are awaiting a test result or sick you must stay at home. Interestingly we appear to have been cleaning our surfaces in public places a little too much. The CDC is reporting there is less transmission from contaminating surfaces than we first thought.

What is the scoop with the variants? As the virus spread to more people it could change and "get smarter". It appears to have done this by changing its spike protein and we now have "double variants". It seems to somehow increase its ability to stay airborne with more ease, infect a new host more easily and for some reason sicken a younger age group more severely. In a short time, variant stains will be the most common type of COVID-19.

Will I Know if I have COVID-19? You might now, which is why this virus spreads so easily. You may be infected, and it may take days or even over a week to start showing any symptoms or test positive. In the meantime, you can pass it on without knowing you have it. One of the most common early symptoms is loss of taste or smell.

Which vaccines should I get? Get the first one available to you. I will be blunt - Can you imagine spreading the virus to a loved one because you decided to get a certain brand of the vaccine? With a third wave upon us timing is everything. Also remember it takes up to 14 days for the vaccine to be effective. If you are concerned about vaccine safety visit to read my article from last week. If you are researching vaccine safety, make sure you are reading information from reputable sources. Vaccine efficacy is also a hot topic. All the vaccines have shown to be amazingly effective at reducing hospitalizations and death. Data comparing the vaccines is questionable as they are studied in different locations at different times - therefore the variant strains create variability in effectiveness results. As we vaccinate more people, we will get better data.

When will I receive my 2nd dose, and will I need boosters? Currently Manitoba is trying to get everyone a first dose of COVID-19 vaccine. Then they will announce plans for 2nd doses, once supply increases. It is likely you will get your second dose within 12 to 16 weeks. Quebec has started mixing the type of second dose from the first, so we will have to see if it becomes a more widespread practice. We know the vaccines work for at least 6 months because that is all the data we currently have. Booster shots are in development, largely due to variants being able to trick our immune system.

Is the vaccine working? While the USA is still seeing high case numbers, deaths and hospitalizations have dropped dramatically, especially since they have vaccinated a high percentage of the elderly. The UK, which used primarily Astra Zeneca vaccine, has seen case numbers and deaths drop so significantly it is below pandemic status. Even here in Manitoba, while our case numbers climb, deaths are not to the degree they were in the fall. The vaccines appear to be saving lives in the elderly, whom have high vaccination rates.

Will I get "sick" from the vaccine? From discussion with patients, it seems like a 50/50 split as to whether you will feel adverse effects from the vaccine. Those who do, report flu like symptoms or "hangover" like symptoms. We recommend having Tylenol on hand, getting a good night's rest and relaxing. Most symptoms last 1-2 days if they appear at all.

Will I need a vaccine to do "normal" things? While the vaccine passport has been ruled out in Canada, you may need it to visit other destinations. Also, not being vaccinated may (and I stress may) limit your activities. This comes down to liability. An NHL arena, concert promoter or airline might not be willing to admit unvaccinated customers as the risk of spreading covid to other customers.

Do I need to wear a mask and social distance after being vaccinated? Yes, for now. We simply do not yet have enough of our population vaccinated to pull down our lines of defense. Wearing a mask is not fun, but please remember it is mostly to prevent you spreading it to someone else. We do not know if being vaccinated stops transmission or carrying of the virus. Also keep social distancing and doing your part for now. I share your frustrations and am hoping and praying once we are all vaccinated restrictions will start to relax.

The information in this article is intended as a helpful guide only. It is not intended to be used as a substitute for professional advice. If you have any questions about your medications and what is right for you see your doctor, pharmacist, or other health care professional.


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