COVID-19 Information

Louisiana and Mississippi are currently experiencing a fourth wave of coronavirus/COVID-19 infections.  This means there is a large volume of community spread and healthcare facilities and hospitals are seeing a sharp increase in sick patients and hospitalizations.

Children’s International Medical Group would like to help you navigate these challenging times by giving you access to trusted and up to date information.  Please see the topics in the Frequently Asked Questions section below for current information.  If you have additional questions or want more information, there are additional links at the bottom of this page or you can speak with one of our healthcare providers.

What is the Delta Variant?

The Delta variant is a new version of the original coronavirus.  Any virus will naturally mutate as it moves through communities- this means that the virus changes in small ways that add up overtime to create a new version of the virus, also called a variant.  The predominant form of the virus currently in circulation in our region is the Delta variant.  The Delta variant has been described as “fitter and faster” than previous versions of the coronavirus. It is highly contagious- with experts saying it is at least 2 times more contagious than previous versions of the virus.  We are now seeing this in real time as our hospitals are seeing an unprecedented volume of patients admitted- this time around, hospitals across our region are seeing a much larger percentage of these patients who are young (in their 20s, 30s and 40s) and many of whom do not have any underlying health problems.  Even more concerning, our regional pediatric hospitals are also seeing a significant increase in children admitted to their facilities with COVID-19 and its complications- the majority of these children are healthy with no underlying medical problems.

What are the symptoms of COVID-19?

Symptoms of COVID-19 infection are variable and range from no symptoms (an asymptomatic carrier) to mild symptoms similar to the common cold to severe illness which may require hospitalization and may cause death.  Reported common symptoms include cough, fever, chills, muscle pain/body aches, headache, sore throat, new loss of taste or smell, and shortness of breath.

What should I do if my child starts experiencing these symptoms?

First, stay at home.  Do not send a sick child to school.  Call your child’s pediatrician to find out next advised steps and how to get tested.

 

If you or a family member tests positive for COVID-19: don’t leave your home unless you need to get medical care; limit contact with other people in your home; wear a face mask to protect others from your or your child’s germs; don’t share household items or food; wash your hands frequently; keep track of your or your child’s symptoms and keep in touch with your healthcare provider.

What are quarantine and isolation?

Quarantine refers to the practice of separating individuals who have had close contact with someone with COVID-19.  Close contact is defined as being within 6 feet of an individual for a cumulative total of 15 minutes or more over a 24-hour period. Quarantine is an important aspect of stopping asymptomatic spread.

 

Isolation refers to separating people infected with COVID-19 from those who are not infected.

See this link which explains the time frame for both: COVID-19: When to Quarantine | CDC

What can I do to protect myself and my family?

The best way to protect yourself, your family and your community is to get vaccinated.

Are the COVID-19 vaccines safe?

Yes!  All three of the available COVID-19 vaccines have been through rigorous clinical trials and studied in the same fashion as other vaccines which have gained FDA approval.  They were tested on thousands of volunteers and have now been safely administered to over 150 million Americans who are continually monitored for side effects. This continued monitoring continues to show that the vaccines are very safe and effective.

I’m concerned about how quickly the vaccines were made- what can you tell me about that?

The science behind the breakthrough had a head start. Researchers had already made progress developing vaccines for other types of coronaviruses. They applied lessons learned after the 2003 SARS epidemic and the 2012 MERS outbreak. They also learned a lot from creating a vaccine for Ebola, which isn’t a coronavirus but has taught us more about viruses.

The rapid spread of COVID-19 made developing these vaccines an international priority. It unlocked billions of dollars in funding to ensure safety while moving with urgency to save lives.

Many researchers and medical experts have come together to develop the vaccine while still meeting the FDA’s rigorous requirements for safety and effectiveness. While regulators have streamlined some steps in the authorization process, the vaccines still needed to meet the FDA’s rigorous standards for safety, effectiveness, and manufacturing quality.

After a vaccine is authorized by the FDA and made available to the public, experts continue to keep track of data. They are monitoring for ongoing safety and to help us learn more about questions like whether vaccinated people can still get infected without having symptoms.

Are the COVID-19 vaccines safe for people who are pregnant or planning to become pregnant soon?

In comparison to non-pregnant people, people who are pregnant or recently were pregnant are at increased risk for severe illness from COVID-19, including illness that requires hospital admission or admission to the ICU, and illness that may result in death. Changes that naturally occur in the body during pregnancy increase the risk for severe illness and these changes continue after pregnancy, prolonging the risk to postpartum mothers. The COVID-19 vaccine is safe for expectant mothers in all stages of their pregnancy and is recommended as an important aspect of routine prenatal care.  There is no evidence that any vaccines, including COVID-19 vaccines, cause fertility problems in women or men.  Please click here to learn more about pregnancy and COVID-19 and the vaccine (Brad- see separate word doc titled information about COVID and pregnancy).

The rapid spread of COVID-19 made developing these vaccines an international priority. It unlocked billions of dollars in funding to ensure safety while moving with urgency to save lives.

Many researchers and medical experts have come together to develop the vaccine while still meeting the FDA’s rigorous requirements for safety and effectiveness. While regulators have streamlined some steps in the authorization process, the vaccines still needed to meet the FDA’s rigorous standards for safety, effectiveness, and manufacturing quality.

After a vaccine is authorized by the FDA and made available to the public, experts continue to keep track of data. They are monitoring for ongoing safety and to help us learn more about questions like whether vaccinated people can still get infected without having symptoms.

What are the common side effects from COVID-19 vaccination?

Minor side effects are relatively common and are a sign that your body is responding appropriately to the vaccine and building up its defenses to protect you. People may temporarily feel: arm soreness (near the site of vaccination), fatigue, fever, headache, muscle pain, chills.  These side effects pass quickly- usually within half a day or less.  

Is there virus in the vaccine?

There is no live virus in any of the vaccines- only instructions which our bodies use to start off the immunity process.  The mRNA vaccines do this by giving a special code to our cells- the mRNA itself quickly degrades once the vaccine has been given and does not interact with our own DNA. 

Is masking still important?

Yes, masking is still an important element of community and personal protection.  Masking is a two-way street- it is most effective when all people in a group are wearing masks/face coverings.

Why are children being asked to wear masks at school?

We know masks are effective and are important safety measures because they decrease how much the virus can spread in a group of people. Many studies have demonstrated the efficacy of masks.  Remember that children younger than 12 years old are not yet eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine, so masking in and around this age group is especially important.  Click here for more information about how children as young as 2 years old can safely wear masks and some tips to help your child successfully wear a mask when in public . See below for more information about children and masks.

I’ve had COVID-19. Should I still get vaccinated?

Absolutely.  We know having the infection does give you some immunity; what we don’t know is how long that immunity lasts or how well it will protect you against the variants to come.  You can receive the vaccine after having COVID as soon as your isolation period is over and assuming your symptoms have improved.

Who can get a vaccine?

Everyone 12 years of age or older is eligible to receive the vaccine.  The medical community is hoping that the vaccine will be approved for children younger than 12 years soon. Vaccines are free for everyone.

Where can I get a vaccine?

If you live in Louisiana, click here COVID-19 Vaccine | Department of Health | State of Louisiana (la.gov) or call the Vaccine Hotline at 1-855-453-0774

If you live in Mississippi, Find a free MSDH vaccination site

Find local pharmacies and healthcare providers giving vaccinations

If you are homebound and need assistance getting your COVID-19 vaccination, send e-mail to COVIDHomebound@msdh.ms.gov or call 877-978-6453.

CHILDREN AND MASKS

Why are students being asked to wear face masks at school?

Many people who have COVID-19 do not display symptoms.  Wearing face masks/cloth face coverings reduces the chance of transmitting the virus.  Face coverings protect the person wearing them, as well as those around them, including other students and teachers/staff.

Is it safe for children to wear face masks?

Yes.  Face masks/cloth face coverings can be safely worn by children 2 years of age and older, including the vast majority of children with special health conditions.

Can wearing a mask make it harder for my child to breathe?

Cloth face coverings/face masks are made from breathable materials that will not block the oxygen your child needs.  They will not affect your child’s ability to breathe easily or their ability to focus and learn in school.

Can masks interfere with my child’s lung development?

No.  Oxygen flows freely through and around the mask, while also blocking respiratory droplets that may contain the coronavirus.  Keeping your child’s lungs healthy is important, which includes preventing infections like COVID-19.

Do masks trap the carbon dioxide that we normally breathe out?

Carbon dioxide molecules are very tiny, even smaller than respiratory droplets.  They cannot be trapped by breathable materials like face masks and cloth face coverings.

What if my child is scared of wearing a face mask?

Here are a few ideas to help make this less scary for children:

-model wearing a mask for your child in your home

-look in the mirror while wearing a mask and talk about it with your child

-put a face mask on your child’s favorite stuffed animal

-decorate the face mask so they’re personalized and more fun

-draw a face mask on their favorite character

-practice wearing a mask at home to help your child get used to it

Adapted from information from HealthyChildren.org and the American Academy of Pediatrics.

https://patiented.solutions.aap.org/handout.aspx?gbosid=548043

https://www.healthychildren.org/English/health-issues/conditions/COVID-19/Pages/Mask-Mythbusters.aspx

SPORTS AND MASKS

Athletes should wear a face mask over the nose and mouth and practice physical distancing as much as possible, including:

  • During group training and competition.
  • On the sideline bench or in dugouts.
  • Participating in team chats.
  • Going to and from the field, court, gym, locker room, pool, etc.
  • During shared transportation such as bus trips to and from events.

Face masks are particularly important when:

  • It is not possible to stay at least 6 feet apart.
  • There is prolonged, close contact.
  • Practices and events are held indoors.

Masks can be removed when participating in:

  • Water sports such as swimming and diving since wet face masks are more difficult to breathe through. For the same reason, masks that become soaked with sweat should be changed right away.
  • Certain sports and activities in which face masks could pose a safety risk. Examples include gymnastics, cheer stunts and tumbling, and wrestling. In these sports, there is a chance face masks could get caught on equipment and create a choking hazard, or accidentally cover eyes and block vision.
  • Some outdoor sports such as golf and singles tennis, as long as athletes are able to keep a safe physical distance.

COVID AND PREGNANCY

In comparison to non-pregnant people, people who are pregnant or recently were pregnant are at increased risk for severe illness from COVID-19, including illness that requires hospital admission or admission to the ICU, and illness that may result in death. Changes that naturally occur in the body during pregnancy increase the risk for severe illness and these changes continue after pregnancy, prolonging the risk to post-partum mothers.

Having COVID-19 is also associated with increased risk for preterm birth and the possibility for other poor pregnancy outcomes.

Vaccination is the best protection against COVID-19.  Recent studies have demonstrated further evidence that these vaccines are safe for pregnant women, including those early in their pregnancy.  There is no evidence that any vaccines, including COVID-19 vaccines, cause fertility problems in women or men.

There is encouraging information now that COVID-19 antibodies from receiving a vaccine are present in a mother’s breast milk- this means that babies can benefit from the vaccine, too.  Research has shown that no components of either the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines are found in breast milk- so no vaccine parts, just the beneficial antibodies.

These links provide additional information about COVID-19 vaccines and pregnancy.

https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/vaccines/recommendations/pregnancy.html#anchor_1628692463325

https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/vaccines/planning-for-pregnancy.html

COVID vaccines and breastfeeding: what the data say (nature.com)