For most of us, the 2020 pandemic has been a long eight months. It may feel longer. Others, it has barely affected everyday routines. Whatever your case may be, we all must work together. Our continued diligence in taking the measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19 can make a difference. By doing some simple tasks we can make everyday activities safer, reduce virus spread, and protect those most vulnerable. Even with the vaccines approved, this is far from over.
What is COVID-19?
This virus has dominated the news since 2020. Scientists became aware of the virus towards the end of 2019, hence the name COVID-19. It’s actually simply another virus in the coronavirus family that cause illness every year – this one has taken center stage. Just as the influenza virus strain of 1918 crossed continents and ravaged entire countries across the globe, this viral strain is flexing its staying power.
Until the path of this virus changes, either via vaccine or herd immunity, we must continue to do our part. Keep informed to prevent spread, practice important daily precautions, and know how to care for yourself if sick.
While you can read all about these strategies below, and please take these measures to protect yourself and your family. Our healthcare workers are reporting this surge to be stretching their limits. Efforts you make at home can help those taking care of the sickest patients.
It really is quite simple. Wear a cloth face covering your mouth and your nose when out of your home. This slows the spread of this very contagious virus. Especially now, the virus appears to be spreading faster in some areas of the world. Wearing the mask is even more important.
Keeping your distance can be difficult. As the weather turns colder, it is harder to gather outside safety and many consider options including gathering indoors. While it may be tempting, limit any time indoors with anyone outside your immediate household. Gather outside for short timeframes (distanced and masked). Consider regular virtual meetings via FaceTime, Zoom or video chats.
People have changed their grocery shopping habits including limiting shopping excursions and wearing proper mask attire when out. There are great first steps in preventing viral spread. Make sure you have hand sanitizer, hand wipes, and extra disposable masks in your car. You can also support local restaurants by dining out as you are able, but take it to-go to avoid exposure while eating.
Recovery and Self-Care
Thankfully, many who have Covid-19 will be able to manage their illness at home. If COVID-19 has entered your household do not expose yourself to others until symptom free for 10-14 days. Symptoms to look out for include:
- Cough, Shortness of Breath, Runny Nose, Congestion
- Headache, Muscle Aches, Chills, Sweating
- Nausea, Diarrhea, Abdominal discomfort
Reference our guidelines during your recovery. Never hesitate to reach out to your healthcare provider for continued guidance during your illness. If you’re feeling unwell for any reason, even if you don’t suspect COVID-19, don’t interact with others until symptoms resolve. That’s just good habits to keep regardless of a pandemic.
Science is amazing. To think of how far we have come from the smallpox vaccine and the polio vaccine. Thankfully years of research have been brought together to help develop a safe and effective vaccination against this COVID-19 virus.
Two of the first vaccines approved by the FDA – the Pfizer and Moderna – are both mRNA vaccines. Current recommendations include two doses, given about 3-4 weeks apart.
What the mRNA vaccine does is introduce instructions to the body. Our immune system then recognizes the protein pieces that is associated with COVID-19, and the body then beings making antibodies. Many antibodies are then made, and with that our body has learned to protect against future infection.
What to Expect After Vaccination
Across Illinois many healthcare workers have begun to receive the vaccine. Many have taken to their social media pages to document their injections, upper arm bandaids, and post vaccination “stickers”. Many have given regular updates to family, friends, and even public posts on the first 12-48 hours after vaccination. Most healthcare staff in the Nursing Decoded circle have reported sore arms and feeling a bit tired; but overall nothing alarming.
Remember, when you receive a vaccine of any type, the goal is for the body to initiate an immune response. Some side effects can include injection site discomfort, fatigue, headache, muscle aches, joint pain, mild fever.
These are all normal responses to your body reacting to the vaccine. Remember, the vaccine isn’t the virus. It’s giving the body the “instruction manual” on what the body needs to do if presented with the virus in the future. By preparing the body to produce antibodies to fight the viral invader, you’ll will be ready to prevent the virus from making you sick.
That being said, the first week in January is when a few of us will be receiving our first vaccine dose. Watch for Instagram posts on updates of how we do during our vaccination!
Be Informed, Be Patient
Things are changing rapidly. Continue to reach out to your local state health department for the latest updates in your area. Check out our Facebook Group to ask questions, follow us on Instagram and continue the dialogue. We will find comfort that we are all going through this together. Generations before us persevered through the Flu Pandemic of 1918. Today we are here knowing that life does return to normal.
Be aware when vaccinations start to become more available in your area. While your healthcare provider will be your best resource to know when vaccines will begin to be scheduled.
Per CDC guidelines, Healthcare personnel, long term care facility residents and staff, followed by frontline essential workers then those over the age of 75 should be first. Then, those age 65-74, followed by those aged 16-64 with underlying medical conditions should be next in the first group vaccinated. As more vaccines then become available, others should be vaccinated. Be patient for your turn, but when your group is call – step up and be vaccinated!
Finally, these next few months are still going be a roller coaster of unknowns. Hopefully as we transition to 2021, we will see the light at the end of this pandemic tunnel.
Healthcare workers have been doing their best this year, and they are tired. Please, help do your part to make all healthcare workers jobs easier. Wear your mask, limit your time around others, and wash those hands!