COVID-19 In Children

Recent reports have shown a dramatic increase in the number of children testing positive for COVID-19 in the United States, especially as the highly transmissible Omicron variant spreads across the country.

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, nearly 1 million COVID-19 cases were reported the week of January 13th, which is four times the amount we experienced during last winter’s surge.

Due to the rise in pediatric cases in the U.S., Jamaica Hospital Medical Center would like to provide parents with a list of signs and symptoms to look for in their children.

In most cases, COVID-19 symptoms in kids are milder than the symptoms experienced by adults and in some cases, children display no signs at all.

Some of the possible symptoms of a COVID-19 infection in children include:

  • Cough
  • Sore throat
  • Runny nose or congestion
  • Shortness of breath
  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Headache
  • Body aches
  • Fatigue

Some children may also experience diarrhea, nausea and vomiting, or loss of taste or smell.

Even though most children who become infected do not experience severe symptoms, some may develop a condition called multisystem inflammatory syndrome (or MIS-C). This condition is characterized by inflammation in various parts of the body, including the heart, kidneys, lungs, eyes, skin, brain, or gastrointestinal organs. Recent research has shown that children between the ages of 2 and 15 infected with COVID-19 may develop MIS-C. Onset of symptoms typically occur between two to six weeks after the child is exposed to coronavirus. Possible symptoms of MIS-C include:

  • Skin rash
  • Abdominal pain
  • Cracked lips
  • Swelling of the hands or feet
  • Bloodshot eyes

The best protection against serious illness for COVID-19 is to get vaccinated. It is recommended that all children, ages five and up get a vaccine. For details, please visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s website at https://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/

All content of this newsletter is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult a medical professional before adopting any of the suggestions on this page. You must never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment based upon any content of this newsletter. PROMPTLY CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN OR CALL 911 IF YOU BELIEVE YOU HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY.

Differences Between COVID PCR and Rapid Tests

What are some of the differences between a COVID PCR test and a rapid test?

Here are a few:

1. PCR or Polymerase chain reaction tests detect RNA ( the virus’ genetic material).
2. Rapid tests or antigen tests detect proteins on the surface of the virus called antigens.
3. A PCR test is considered to be highly accurate. It is the most sensitive test method available at this time.
4. According to the CDC, antigen test sensitivity “varies depending on the course of infection, but generally moderate-to-high at times of peak viral load.”
5. Most PCR test specimens are processed in a lab.
6. Rapid test samples are applied to a test strip.
7. The turnaround time for PCR test results on average can be 1- 3 days (This may vary depending on a facility’s capacity to process specimens)
8. The turnaround time for rapid test results ranges from 15- 30 minutes.

Remember getting tested for COVID is very important to prevent the spread of the virus. If you are exhibiting any symptoms of COVID, you should get tested regardless of vaccination status.

All content of this newsletter is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult a medical professional before adopting any of the suggestions on this page. You must never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment based upon any content of this newsletter. PROMPTLY CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN OR CALL 911 IF YOU BELIEVE YOU HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY.

Tips On How To Gather And Travel Safely For The Holidays

The World Health Organization (WHO) recently announced the emergence of the Omicron variant of the COVID-19 virus.  According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the variant is likely to spread more easily than the original virus.  Therefore, it is important for people to exercise safety and caution, especially while traveling and gathering during the holiday season.

If you plan on traveling or socializing, it is important to follow these safety guidelines provided by the CDC to protect your health and the health of others:

  • Get a COVID-19 vaccine as soon as you can.
  • Wear a mask that covers your nose and mouth to help protect yourself and others.
  • Stay 6 feet apart from others who don’t live with you.
  • Avoid crowds and poorly ventilated indoor spaces.
  • Test to prevent spread to others (Getting tested can give you information about your risk of spreading COVID-19).
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water. Use hand sanitizer if soap and water aren’t available.
  • Do not travel if you have been exposed to COVID-19, you are sick, or if you test positive for COVID-19.

The CDC is also recommending that you delay travel if you have not been fully vaccinated. Other travel and socialization recommendations include keeping gatherings small and consider staying at a hotel if you are visiting loved ones out of town.

Getting vaccinated is the most effective way to reduce the spread of the virus and minimize the severity of the disease.

It is important to keep in mind that you are considered vaccinated two weeks after receiving your second shot of the Moderna or Pfizer vaccines or two weeks after a single dose of getting Johnson and Johnson’s Janssen vaccine.  If you do not meet these requirements, you must continue to take the same precautions as those who are unvaccinated.

By following these recommendations, we can stop the spread of the virus, protect our health, and safely enjoy the holidays.

All content of this newsletter is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult a medical professional before adopting any of the suggestions on this page. You must never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment based upon any content of this newsletter. PROMPTLY CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN OR CALL 911 IF YOU BELIEVE YOU HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY.

Vaccine Booster Eligibility

COVID-19 vaccines are found to be effective in lowering the risk of severe disease, hospitalization, and death.  However, the efficacy of the vaccine may decrease over time.  To help strengthen and prolong protection from COVID, vaccine boosters or additional shots are recommended for individuals who are fully vaccinated but may be at an increased risk for infection.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) both recommend COVID-19 vaccine boosters for those who fit certain criteria.

According to the CDC, individuals who received the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna vaccine, are eligible for a booster if they are:

  • 65 years or older
  • Age 18+ who live in long-term care settings
  • Age 18+ who have underlying medical conditions
  • Age 18+ who work or live-in high-risk settings

Booster shots for the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna vaccine are recommended six months after receiving your second dose. You can get any of the vaccines authorized in the U.S.

If you received Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen vaccine, you are eligible for a booster if you are 18 years old or older.  Getting any of the boosters authorized in the U.S.  two months after vaccination is recommended.

Side effects to booster shots may vary, the CDC states, “Reactions reported after getting a booster shot were similar to that of the 2-shot or single-dose initial series. Fever, headache, fatigue and pain at the injection site were the most commonly reported side effects, and overall, most side effects were mild to moderate. However, as with the 2-shot or single-dose initial series, serious side effects are rare, but may occur.”

All content of this newsletter is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult a medical professional before adopting any of the suggestions on this page. You must never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment based upon any content of this newsletter. PROMPTLY CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN OR CALL 911 IF YOU BELIEVE YOU HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY.

What You Need To Know About The Delta Variant

It is common for viruses to change through mutation, and new variants of a virus are expected to occur. These variants can affect the strength, symptoms, or transmission rate of the virus. There have been multiple variants of the virus that causes COVID-19 identified in the United States and globally throughout this pandemic. One variant that you may be hearing more and more about is the Delta variant.

The highly transmissible delta variant of the COVID-19 virus was first identified in India and has now been reported in at least 104 countries. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Delta variant is now the dominant strain of the virus, representing 51.7% of new COVID cases in the United States as of the week of July 3.

The Delta variant is a cause of concern to health authorities because it is thought to be the most transmissible variant yet. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the Delta variant is estimated to be approximately 55% more transmissible than the Alpha variant, which was first identified in Britain last year. Officials believe it is more contagious because of its ability to partially evade the antibodies made by the immune system after a coronavirus infection or vaccination.

Many health experts fear the variant will cause a surge in new cases this fall, hitting the unvaccinated the hardest. Currently, only 48% of adult Americans are fully vaccinated, well below the 70% most believe is needed to achieve herd immunity. In fact, areas in the U.S. with low vaccination rates are already beginning to see delta-driven outbreaks, and the number of COVID-19 cases has begun to climb again nationally.

The good news is that data suggests that several widely used shots, including those made by Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna, Johnson & Johnson and AstraZeneca, appear to retain most of their effectiveness against the delta variant.

Jamaica Hospital urges everyone eligible to get vaccinated if they have not already done so.  Vaccination is the best way to stop the spread of all the variants and reduce the odds that new, even more, dangerous variants emerge.

All content of this newsletter is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult a medical professional before adopting any of the suggestions on this page. You must never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment based upon any content of this newsletter. PROMPTLY CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN OR CALL 911 IF YOU BELIEVE YOU HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY.

How COVID-19 Can Affect Your Mental Health

Many people who were diagnosed with COVID-19 over the past year and a half have reported a variety of long-term symptoms.  The conditions that have received the most attention focus on either the physical effects of the virus, such as shortness of breath or fatigue or cognitive deficits, such as confusion or memory loss. For some, however, there are other lingering symptoms that can affect their mental health.

Recent research has concluded that nearly one person in five diagnosed with COVID-19 now also suffers some form of a mental health disorder. This can include:

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Insomnia

Other patients may experience Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).  Patients experiencing PTSD typically have spent time in a hospital, more specifically in an intensive care unit, or were on a ventilator.

While it is difficult to determine is if these mental health symptoms emerge in patients as a result of neurological reaction to the virus or are due to the stresses of contracting the virus, it is important to raise awareness of the issue and provide resources to get these individuals the necessary help.

Jamaica Hospital Medical Center’s Post-COVID Care Center, located in our MediSys Hollis Tudors Center at 2001-16 Hollis Avenue, offers comprehensive range of services for those living with lingering effects of the virus, mental health services delivered by highly qualified psychiatrists. To make an appointment, please call 718-736-8204.

All content of this newsletter is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult a medical professional before adopting any of the suggestions on this page. You must never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment based upon any content of this newsletter. PROMPTLY CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN OR CALL 911 IF YOU BELIEVE YOU HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY.

Do You Have Post-COVID Re-Entry Anxiety?

As more individuals across the United States are getting vaccinated, many of the places that were forced to close due to the pandemic are slowly beginning to re-open and other social distancing restrictions are being lifted.

For some, these are signs that the country is returning to a degree of “normalcy” and is reason for excitement. For others however, the lifting of these restraints can evoke feelings of uncertainty, stress, fear, and anxiety.

Those who are experiencing these emotions might be living with a condition referred to as “Re-Entry Anxiety”, which is characterized by the stress encountered while attempting to return to a normal lifestyle. Those who experience reentry anxiety may have feelings of uneasiness about returning to work or school, are uncomfortable at social gatherings regardless of the size, and avoid human contact such as handshakes or hugs.

Re-entry anxiety is not an uncommon condition. According to experts, nearly 50% of Americans admit to feeling anxious about resuming in-person interactions after it is acceptable to do so. The same research also concluded that those who were vaccinated expressed the same level of concerns as those who have not yet been vaccinated. History has also taught us that the number of people presenting with mental health conditions, such as agoraphobia or obsessive compulsive disorder tend to increase following public health crises, such as after the recent SARS and Ebola outbreaks.

There are a few things those dealing with re-entry anxiety can do to ease themselves back into social situations, these include:

  • Giving yourself permission to be anxious – Don’t judge yourself for whatever feelings you may be having. Understand that your feelings are natural, normal, and shared by many.
  • Starting small –Rather than thrusting yourself into an overwhelming environment, start gradually with brief, one-on-one interactions with a trusted friend. Try going for a short walk or sitting at an outdoor café.

  • Confronting your fears – If you are feeling anxious about something, it is best to address the issue as soon as possible.   The longer you wait, the harder it will be to overcome it.

  • Creating a bucket-list – Think about the things you have missed that bring you the most happiness. Setting a goal to do these things once again can shift your focus from anxiety to optimism and joy. 
      
  • Buddy-up – If you know someone who has similar levels of anxiety, work through your anxieties together. You can support each other and provide the strength to get through the otherwise difficult re-entry process.

  • Focusing on the facts – By relying on trusted sources, such as the CDC and state and local health departments will help you make informed decisions about the best and safest course to reintegrate yourself into normal activities.

While some may find these tips helpful, it is important to understand that there is no right or wrong way to overcome re-entry anxiety. We all had different experiences that affected how we coped during the pandemic; therefore everyone may have different factors that determine their reentry process.

For some, reentry might require professional assistance. The good news is help is available. There are many individual or group therapy options available either in-person or via telemedicine. To make an appointment at Jamaica Hospital’s outpatient mental health center, please call 718-206-5575.

All content of this newsletter is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult a medical professional before adopting any of the suggestions on this page. You must never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment based upon any content of this newsletter. PROMPTLY CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN OR CALL 911 IF YOU BELIEVE YOU HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY.

New Masking Guidelines For Those Fully Vaccinated

Millions of Americans have received their COVID vaccine, and those who are now fully vaccinated can begin to do many things that they could not do because of the pandemic.

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently issued updated guidelines for fully vaccinated individuals, which included new rules for mask wearing.

Some of the new guidelines allow those who are fully vaccinated to:

  • Gather or conduct activities outdoors without wearing a mask, except in certain crowded settings and venues. Wearing a mask at large events, such as parades, live performance or sporting event is still recommended.
  • Attend small indoor gatherings with other fully vaccinated people without wearing a mask or staying 6 feet apart. It is still recommended to avoid large indoor gatherings such as the mall or movie theatre.
  • Travel within the United States without needing to get tested or self-quarantine before or after your trip.

In addition, if you are fully vaccinated and have been around someone who has COVID-19, you do not need to stay away from others or get tested unless you have symptoms.

These new guidelines only apply to fully vaccinated individuals, which is defined as 2 weeks after their second dose in a 2-dose series, such as the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines, or 2 weeks after a single-dose vaccine, such as Johnson & Johnson vaccine. The CDC is instructing unvaccinated people to wear a mask at all gatherings.

Vaccines remain the best way to prevent the spread of COVID-19. If you would like to make an appointment, to get vaccinated at Jamaica Hospital, please email us at covid@jhmc.org

All content of this newsletter is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult a medical professional before adopting any of the suggestions on this page. You must never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment based upon any content of this newsletter. PROMPTLY CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN OR CALL 911 IF YOU BELIEVE YOU HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY.

What To Expect After You Receive Your Vaccine

Jamaica Hospital would like to provide our community with the facts about what to expect after getting the vaccine.

The most common side effect associated with the COVID vaccine is pain and swelling in your arm at the location of the injection site.

Other side effects reported by some include:

  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Headache
  • Body aches
  • Fatigue

It is important to note that these side effects are normal signs that your body is building protection against the virus. These symptoms typical go away in a few days, but they may affect your ability to participate in your daily activities while you experience them.

If you are experiencing pain, it is recommended that you talk to your doctor about taking over-the-counter medicine, such as ibuprofen, aspirin, antihistamines, or acetaminophen. It is not recommended that you take these medicines before vaccination for the purpose of trying to prevent side effects, because it is not known how these medications may impact how well the vaccine works.

Some tips to alleviate your symptoms include:

  • Apply a clean, cool, wet washcloth over the injection site
  • Use or exercise the arm that received the injection
  • Drink plenty of fluids.
  • Dress lightly

All content of this newsletter is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult a medical professional before adopting any of the suggestions on this page. You must never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment based upon any content of this newsletter. PROMPTLY CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN OR CALL 911 IF YOU BELIEVE YOU HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY.

Should I Let My Child Play Sports During the COVID Pandemic?

As we slowly attempt to return to some degree of normalcy during the COVID pandemic, many activities are beginning to resume, this includes youth sports to be played. Depending on the state or region you live in, your children may now be able to participate in many of the activities that were placed on hold nearly a year ago.

As a parent, it is important to understand the potential risks before deciding to allow your children to play sports.  To help you make an informed decision, Jamaica Hospital is providing the following tips for your consideration:

  • Understand the current COVID-19 positivity rates in your community. Families who live in areas where there is a high or growing number of COVID cases will have an increased risk of contracting the virus. Parents can track positivity rates on their local department of health website.

  • Consider the sport that your child wants to play.  Certain sports, such as wrestling or basketball require players to be in closer proximity to one another. These sports pose an increased risk of exposure as do other sports where there is a high level of physical exertion and those that are played indoors.

  • Assess how much equipment or gear is shared among players.  Even though we know the primary way the virus is spread is from person to person, through droplets in the air, it is still possible to contract COVID by touching a contaminated surface.  For this reason, it is important to limit the use of shared equipment and make sure all gear is sanitized between uses. Never share water bottles.

  • Determine if your child’s team has the ability to socially distance while the players are not actively engaged.  Can the players be placed at the minimum required distance from one another while on the sideline or bench? Are there efforts to have them wear masks when not competing?

Other determining factors that can increase or reduce the risk of spreading the virus include the age of the athlete (older children tend to understand and comply better), the size of the team, the amount of travel required to play the sport and the number of spectators in attendance. By being knowledgeable of the situation you can reduce your child’s exposure and allow them to once again enjoy the sports they love to play.

If your child has any underlying health issues, it is important to speak to your doctor before allowing your child to play.

All content of this newsletter is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult a medical professional before adopting any of the suggestions on this page. You must never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment based upon any content of this newsletter. PROMPTLY CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN OR CALL 911 IF YOU BELIEVE YOU HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY.