Covid-19 and more
I keep thinking I've been asked every possible question about Covid, but new ones keep coming up. If my child was probably exposed recently, should I get a vaccine? (It might help and it won't hurt.) How can a child be isolated from his parents or his siblings when he has Covid? (With difficulty, but it's worth a try if someone's particularly vulnerable or you have a wedding or a trip coming up.) What's the point of doing a Covid test if her siblings are positive? (Nothing, though for data-collecting purposes the County might want to know. Also, you'll need to count days from when she became sick to know when she can go back to school.)
Kids 12 and up should get the Pfizer Covid vaccine, as many doses as are recommended and whenever they are approved. Your own child has a very small likelihood of becoming severely ill, but he or she may have a friend or relative who is more vulnerable (or who has a friend or relative who's more vulnerable) and even if the vaccine only lessens symptoms, it may lessen the viral load of his contagion enough to reduce the danger to someone else. Also, if your school has a policy requiring it, it's important to honor it.
But more broadly, there's no certain answer to most of these questions. What you need is a way to answer them when they arise. You should know that it's very unlikely your own child is going to get very sick, that it's almost as unlikely for the adults you know to get sick either if they're vaccinated, and that our public health community and society as a whole are doing their best to keep the toll of this illness as low as is possible.
So wear a mask when there's a mandate. When there's a big wave of cases in town, be more cautious about indoor gatherings. The CDC and state and local health departments deserve our gratitude and our respect -- even when they don't have all the answers.
It's okay for you to call me, too. I'll try to give a thoughtful answer, based on what I know about Covid and what I know about you.
Covid resources are at right. Scroll down for information on polio and monkeypox.
There's lots of helpful Covid information online. Here are some links:
Los Angeles Department of Public Health Guidance for Reducing the Spread of Covid-19
State of California Covid-19 Current Safety Measures
Monkeypox, polio and measles
We haven't really finished with Covid yet, but now we have to worry about Monkeypox. There's not enough vaccine to protect all the members of groups considered vulnerable, and children aren't in that group in any case, so there's nothing to do but wait and see what happens.
Polio is another story. Everyone should be vaccinated against polio, starting at two months of age and receiving all four shots, on time. There is no treatment for polio and it hits children especially hard. You may have heard that health officials are investigating a single case in paralytic polio Rockland County, N.Y., in a 20-year-old. No one knows yet whether a larger outbreak will ensue, although New York health officials are very concerned about this.
But no matter what you hear, your child is safe from polio if he or she is vaccinated. Tell your friends and family. Anti-vaxxing is not an option for polio.
For information on the most recent local outbreak of measles, scroll down.
Measles outbreak of 2019
Before Covid arrived in early 2020, the main contagious threat we were worried about in Los Angeles was measles. I wrote on April 24 of 2019 to say that at 1:30 pm that day, there were five cases of measles known to the Health Department in Los Angeles County. There was much concern.
It never got much worse than that. But measles is a serious disease with serious and sometimes permanent side effects. It is way worse than chicken pox, which is more like a nuisance.
Every person who has not had measles already, or who has not been appropriately immunized, should get herself or himself and/or their children in to a doctor to get the MMR vaccination as soon as possible--preferably before spring break ends, May arrives or they start attending Dodger games.
If you know of cases or suspected cases of measles, please call the Preventable Diseases (like measles) Unit at the LA County Department of Public Health at 310--351-7800. I would be happy to hear about it as well.
Anyone who thinks they might be coming down with measles should stay home and call their doctor. They should not go to the doctor's office or to school or shul or church or Ralph's or wherever. They should stay home to try to avoid spreading this severe illness to others.
Please forward this message to anyone who may be looking for information about measles. Anyone can to pitch in to help keep everyone safe.
A model of the coronavirus that causes Covid-19.
The red "spikes" are the spike proteins, which most Covid vaccines latch onto to repel or subdue infection.