Sixteenth Street Community Health Centers advises masks, vaccinations and boosters in wake of long COVID
Although many of us have returned to some of our pre-pandemic activities, the dangers of catching and spreading COVID-19 are increasing as new more infectious variants emerge.
Now, children under five are able to get the vaccine, but some parents are hesitant to inoculate their kids. While the long-term effects of contracting COVID-19 are yet to be seen, emerging evidence shows many people are dealing with what’s being called “long-COVID,” which is a series of medical problems that persist long after the initial infection. Both adults and children have experienced these issues, and pediatricians like Dr. Marcos De la Cruz believe avoiding infection is essential to ensuring the best health outcomes for you and your children.
De la Cruz is the director of pediatrics at Sixteenth Street Community Health Centers, where he is watching the pandemic unfold. De la Cruz shares that the new strain of the omicron variant is more contagious and fatal than any other previous strain. He emphasizes the importance of protecting yourself from this virus in public spaces.
“I always have looked at the spread of COVID as being a multi-layer approach and in ways to protect ourselves. So it's not only the mask but also the vaccine, and when you put both of them on top of each other, you're even providing a better protection overall,” says De la Cruz.
People over 50 in the state of Wisconsin are now eligible to receive their second booster vaccination, and children under five years old are now able to receive their first dose. However, parents have struggled with the accessibility of the vaccination. De la Cruz recommends visiting your primary care provider or giving a call to the local health department when seeking out the vaccination.
As the virus rages on, the symptoms shift to those associated with the common cold, such as headaches, runny nose, fatigue, etc. However, despite the shift in symptoms, the variant continues to be more deadly and contagious as more people have been placed in the ICU than other common viruses.
“It kind of follows along with science, you know, viruses over time, want to become more contagious, but not as strong in the sense that it doesn't want to cause serious illness in its host. And so I think we're starting to see some of that sort of shift," says De la Cruz.
De la Cruz explains that while long COVID primarily plagues adults, he has an understanding that children are susceptible to it as well. Therefore, health care professionals continue to try to make sense of the information they’re receiving regarding those with long-lasting symptoms.
“I think we don't have a clear understanding of where this is going to go with long COVID. Symptoms are still present, you know, two years after the fact,” says De la Cruz.
This ever-changing disease is difficult to predict, which is why De la Cruz argues the public needs to keep its defenses up. The data proves that masked people have fewer chances of catching and spreading the virus than those unmasked.
“What we have in place currently with recommendations, with masks still when you're indoors [and] in busier places as well as vaccinations, you're protecting yourself and reducing that chance of being contagious to others.”
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