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

QUESTION:  What is the difference between a pandemic and an endemic? And why does it make a difference in my life?

ANSWER: A pandemic, as we are currently experiencing, is an epidemic that is present in more than one geographic region of the world, according to the Centers for Disease Control. 

Remember that an epidemic is a disease outbreak in a specific geographic area. A pandemic also means a sudden and unexpected increase in the number of cases, and often deaths, due to a pathogen, i.e. germ or disease. 

Endemic is the baseline amount of disease present in a community, according to the CDC. 

A year ago, we had hoped that the SarsCoV-2 would fade away, the pandemic to burn out leaving no residual baseline level of the virus in the community.  

Think of polio after the mass vaccinations in the 1950s leaving no polio for decades. A resurgence only occurred due to a small number of people going unvaccinated in the last several years.

Because of resistance to vaccination that is present not only in the county but the state and the country, it does appear we are looking at life in the future with a constant lingering baseline level of disease. 

QUESTION: What does it mean to have an endemic going into the future?

ANSWER:  It means that we will have a baseline of coronavirus and ongoing surges, like the recent one in Michigan where cases and hospitalizations and deaths soared. 

It means that other countries that do not have the resources for medications, oxygen, hospital beds, testing and vaccinations, such as India is currently experiencing, will see tremendous loss of life.

Andrea Carlstrom, head of Chaffee County Public Health explains, “how does our society strike a balance between living amidst a pandemic and living our lives? Vaccinations are the key to this next chapter in our pandemic response.” 

Variants and vaccine rates are what will add to prolonging the duration and extent of the baseline of the coronavirus endemic going forward. Because large percentages of people are not getting vaccinated, the virus has more  time to change and spread. 

QUESTION:  There is a recent increase in the number of cases reported on the Chaffee County COVID Dashboard. What is that about?

ANSWER: In general when there is an uptick in numbers it is usually due to a relaxing of the previous restrictions. So, though we are tired of hearing it, and doing it, masking, social distancing and handwashing all work. Getting vaccinated works. 

There have been a small number of students in Salida who tested positive recently along with some school staff. 

Quarantine measures for those who were positive and their contacts were immediately put in place. 

Chaffee County Public Health is working with the schools in identifying individuals close to those who tested positive. Public health suggests following sector guidance previously reviewed for after school activities.

Also, a number of staff at the correctional facility in Buena Vista tested positive, some of whom were symptomatic.

QUESTION: There is talk that the Pfizer vaccine will be approved for emergency use authorization for children ages 12-15. Is it safe and effective? 

ANSWER:  At this time, the safety data shows no significant side effects for children age 12-15. Early efficacy data also looks excellent as it does for adults. And the more children that can be vaccinated, the better. Both summer activities and return to school in the fall will be safer and easier. 

INFORMATION:  For more information about COVID-19 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: All pharmacies are providing vaccines. For details as to  vaccines and appointment availability, contact your pharmacy of choice or your doctor’s office.

QUESTIONS:  If you have a COVID-19 related question, please send it to pgoetz@themountainmail.com and I will attempt to answer it in the next few weeks.

Dr. Lydia Segal is trying to be a retired board-certified family practice doctor who also has a Masters in Public Health.(In a former life she was a general assignment reporter for a newspaper in Arizona. ) Currently she also co-teaches at the Heart of the Rockies Regional Medical Center with the pelvic physical therapists classes on men’s and women’s health.

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