In another few weeks, the school is going to start. How school will open appears to be variable for each city or town. For children who will attend school on-site, the only way to lower the risk of catching SARS-COV2 is by wearing mask, washing/disinfecting hands regularly, and staying physically apart by at least 6 feet, especially at lunch time.
As we enter the Autumn season, some people who have allergy to ragweed will start sneezing or coughing, and those who have asthma may develop wheezing and have trouble breathing. Wearing a mask and staying indoors will help to reduce the exposure to the pollen allergens. In the Spring season, when people were quarantined at home due to SARS-COV2 pandemic, we had actually seen very few patients with allergic complaints. The best scenario would be that we will also see very few patients with respiratory complaints this Autumn and Winter because everyone will be wearing masks. The worst scenario would be that one or more students get sick with a respiratory infection and then spread it to other students.
While we hope for the best, we will need to prepare for the worst. The SARS-COV2 pandemic is still here. Patients who have asthma are at higher risk for severe disease with any respiratory infection. It should be noted that because SARS-COV2 can be transmitted by aerosol, we have been advised by infectious disease experts to not use nebulizers in our office, as the nebulizer blows aerosol into the air and may spread the virus further than the usual 6 feet. We have bought albuterol inhalers and a number of spacers to be used for patients who come in with wheezing and need to be treated for asthma exacerbation. However, we highly recommend that every patient who has asthma and has an inhaler and spacer should bring them in to be used in the office for asthma exacerbation. We will also have our front desk receptionist to provide that reminder when a patient calls to schedule for such an appointment.
As in the past, we recommend influenza vaccine for all children aged 6 months and older before the flu season begins. Only about 68% of our patients heeded our advice in previous years. We anticipate that number will increase this year, as the Department of Public Health of Massachusetts just announced a policy for all students to be vaccinated before December 31, 2020. When the first shipment of the flu vaccine arrives sometime in September, we will offer the vaccine at Well child visits. The Flu Clinic will start in October. We welcome calls or email requests via MyChart now for an appointment with the flu clinic.
Starting September, we will resume our previous schedule that includes Sunday 9am-1pm for sick visits. Labor Day will still be closed.
As mentioned in our previous newsletter, we send nasopharyngeal or oropharyngeal swabs to Quest Lab for testing of SARS-COV2. The test result can take 2 to 9 days. Because of the limited number of swabs we have on hand, we do not do screening tests on patients who have no symptoms. The web site below is the COVID19 test site locator if you wish to get tested elsewhere:
Pediatric Associates of Malden