Don't be an Ostrich

Sunday, 31 July 2022

Sticking your head in the sand is NOT a strategy

Well, it is. But wow, is it a terrible one! And boy do I get it - we are OVER it. But unfortunately, we are in the perfect conditions for not just a second wave - but a flipping Tsunami of more COVID cases. Want some evidence? We dispense Paxlovid an antiviral treatment for COVID, reserved for the patients that are at severe risk of serious complications. Usually we dispense 2 to 3 a week. But on Tuesday the 12th of July alone we dispensed 19 packs of Paxlovid. (Oddly, 72 hours post the Rugby test / Super spreader event in Dunedin.)


WHY is this happening?

Covid has mutated again into a new variant called B.A. 5. It appears this form is the most transmissible version yet. Couple this with waning antibodies from boosters that were administered 6 months ago and general malaise of wearing masks, we have hit the COVID jackpot. Our immune systems are getting a proper workout this winter, too. We are having cases of COVID, the flu, a particularly nasty viral gastro bug AND RSV (the virus that causes nasty croup symptoms in children) in the community - how’s your family virus BINGO card looking?


WHAT should you do?


Second vaccine boosters are available for people over the age of 50. We can administer them 6 months AFTER your first booster or 3 months after your COVID infection. People who are older or immunocompromised may make very few or very poor quality antibodies, leaving them more vulnerable to reinfection. If you are in this category, please consider getting a second booster shot. Look, straight up: there is no magical solution that will stop you from getting infected. However, we can confidently say that the vaccines will bolster your antibody levels, and research shows that they are effective in preventing severe outcomes if you get sick.


Do they protect me if no one else is wearing them? Well, it's definitely true that they work best if all people in a room are wearing them. There is plenty of evidence that it does still convey protection to the wearer, particularly if it's a properly fitted KN95 or N95 mask. If you need help with this, please ask us. A wee tip for people that wear glasses: if you're fogging up due to mask wearing, it's NOT fitted properly. Pull the mask a little higher on the bridge of your nose and make a good tight seal with the wire in the mask.

Make sure you wear masks in situations of poor ventilation. Recent tests show that gyms, buses and cars show really high levels of CO2, indicating that in these conditions you are essentially inhaling other people's breaths. A good mask, fitted properly, can help. Check the state of your masks! We are seeing some masks well past their effective use date. We can give you a FREE pack of surgical masks; please ask us.


If you feel unwell, stay at home. We are all insanely busy, and I know you don't want to let your co-workers down. But trust me, they don't want your germsies either! And test! You should treat any new symptoms, including a fever, sore throat, runny nose or change in taste or smell, as a potential case of COVID, and get tested. We (and the Ministry of Health) want more people to have access to RAT tests and have relaxed some of the requirements to accessing them. We can give you FREE RAT tests for you and your household member; please ask us.

Please consider all of these actions. If not for you, consider them for others. We have seen that in most cases, for healthy young people that COVID can be mild. Do not blind yourself from a simple fact though: in the last 2 years, there have been 15 million more deaths globally than what is expected. This is a serious condition. We don't have any spare staff lying around. The person next to you in line ordering coffee might be severely immune-compromised. We are still in the middle of a pandemic and we don't know if "the fat lady" has even started warming up yet .