QUESTIONS: If you have a COVID related question, please send it to pgoetz@themountainmail.com and I will attempt to answer it in the next few weeks.

NOTE: What I write today is true today. New information is rapidly emerging and updates are forthcoming when relevant.

UPDATE: As the Delta variant has continued to spread, its increased rate of transmission is resulting in potential changes to our daily lives. This means you can expect changes in mask mandates and indoor and travel restrictions in the next few days and weeks. Where these changes will happen and the extent to which they will happen is not yet clear. 

QUESTION: I hear some countries in Europe are mandating vaccinations. Is the USA going to do the same?

ANSWER: Federal and state governments have stated their resistance to forcing people to be vaccinated. This is especially true as the vaccines are currently authorized under emergency use utilization only and have yet to have full FDA approval. This full approval is expected, but review of all relevant research and epidemiology data generally takes months, which means full approval would likely not happen until fall or winter. However, even with full FDA approval, mandated vaccinations are still not seen as appealing to authorize from the federal or state government standpoint.

In many places, including Colorado and Chaffee County, only about 60 percent of eligible people have been fully immunized. This leaves the unvaccinated population a breeding ground for variants. As a result, governments are attempting to balance personal rights with the need for greater public health protection by offering financial enticements. These have had only limited success.

QUESTION: An otherwise young healthy adult male, who had COVID-19 eight months ago, said he felt he did not need the vaccine as he already had the disease. He mentioned he still has an altered sense of smell and taste. He asks what is going on?

ANSWER: He has what is termed long COVID (aka “long haulers COVID”). Long COVID is a syndrome that occurs after one is mostly over his or her initial bout with the disease but still has persistent symptoms. These symptoms can include loss or change of taste and smell, brain fog, body aches and extreme fatigue, and these are only the most common. Treatment is symptom based. Heart of the Rockies Regional Medical Center has a program for long COVID. The contact information can be reached via the hospital at 719-530-2200. 

QUESTION: The same gentleman does not feel he needs to get vaccinated since he already has had COVID-19. Is there a reason he should get vaccinated?

ANSWER: Yes, he has three very good reasons to get vaccinated. The first is that immunity from getting COVID-19, called native immunity, seems to wane between six and nine months after one’s initial illness. So far, it appears that the vaccines give stronger immunity and for a longer period of time as shown in tests of antibodies and T cells.

The second reason he should get inoculated is because he likely had an earlier variant, as he got his infection in December, shortly before the holidays. Since then the virus has mutated. Our gentleman now has less immunity to the current Delta variant, which is the predominant variant in the country and state but was not present in the county in the winter of 2020-2021. The current vaccines have proven advantageous in preventing infection from many of the currently circulating variants. 

This third reason for getting fully vaccinated is based on the several studies that show that some people with long COVID, who subsequently got vaccinated, have resolution of their symptoms. This seems like an excellent reason to get vaccinated.

INFORMATION: For more information about COVID and the vaccines, eligibility and appointments, see the links below. Pharmacies will be getting small shipments of vaccines in the near future. Information will be posted in this newspaper and on the county public health web pages.

http://chaffeecounty.org/Public-Health-Coronavirus

https://www.hrrmc.com/COVID-19-updates/COVID-19-vaccine/

Pharmacy vaccine resources:

Salida: Walmart, Safeway, Salida Pharmacy

Buena Vista: City Market, BVDrug, Shavano Pharmacy (LaGree’s) and Valley-Wide Health.

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