It’s been one year since the world shut down. It’s been one year since many of us have hugged another person or seen our family in person. It’s been a year of homeschooling. A year of zoom meetings and conferencing. A year of multiple covid testing and mask-wearing. A year of fear and anxiety. 365 days and 500k Americans gone forever.
Today we are looking at over 29 million cases and over 529k deaths. But there is hope as we round the corner on a path toward healing. We have vaccinated over 95 million people in the United States. The legislation was signed today to help relieve the financial burdens that have overwhelmed Americans and small businesses for the past year. But what does all this mean? What will happen next, and what should we be preparing for? Well, lets’ break it all down into small bites together.
What Happens Now?
With states opening up and removing masks mandates, things are changing rapidly, and the rules are changing from state to state. So what does this mean? How can we navigate this? The best way is to make sure that you are also following your state and local governments while you are paying close attention to the CDC and federal guidelines. This is as important if not more important than following the federal government’s guidelines. Why? Because the state’s rules will be well within the guidelines of the federal mandates. However, they are allowed to adapt and amend it as long as it doesn’t conflict with federal law under Article VI of the U.S. Constitution. For example, there is no federal mandate on the mask-wearing outside of being on federal property. So, that gives states like Texas the power to lift a mask mandate in their state. Because they are not violating federal law.
As a patient, the idea of opening up to 100% without a mask mandate while cases of the Covid-19 are not under 1,000k per day brings on a whole new batch of anxiety. I’m sure some of you are right there with me. It’s a bit frustrating to know that we could end up right back where we were a year ago with this type of behavior. This past year has really shown me just how selfish we can be, and it’s truly disappointing. Our personal freedoms seem to supersede the needs of neighbors and friends. The idea that people are willing to risk others’ health to be able to hang out in a bar is just…well, it’s pretty gross. But I digress. So, what should you do next?
Keep Wearing Your Mask
Continue to Social Distance
Make an Appointment to Get Vaccinated
Limit Your Contact with People Outside Your Household/Pod
Get Covid Tests Frequently
The Vaccine Dance
Some of the most frustrating moments of this pandemic have been trying to make a Covid test appointment and now trying to make a vaccine appointment. Different counties have different tiers and availabilities for vaccinations. The appointment websites are hard to navigate. The lines are ridiculously long in some places. Being able to get the last-minute vaccination appointment is like winning the lottery! It’s so hard to be patient about this while counties open up to full capacity, and we are still vulnerable to infection and serious complications. However, patience is key! Navigating some of these sites really does take a lot of patience and probably a gen-zer! LOL!
Some groups are trying to bridge the gaps to ensure that no vaccine goes to waste. So even if your tier group hasn’t opened up, you may have an opportunity to get a vaccine. Groups like CovidMD are ensuring that there are vaccine pop-ups in low-income and heavily hit areas. Sites like Dr. B & Vax Standby are working with vaccine centers to ensure that no vaccine is wasted. With people missing appointments or not enough people showing up to testing sites. Thawed vaccines can go to waste. These sites will text you to let you know when one is available to you and help you set up an appointment.
How will you know when it’s your turn? Your state and county’s public health website will help you get a better idea of when it’s your turn to make an appointment.
What can you do once you get your vaccine? The CDC has just come out with temporary public health guidance for fully vaccinated individuals. Why temporary? Well, because this is the first set of guidelines. We should expect that the information will change and evolve as we get closer to a country with a majority of the population vaccinated. I know that it gets super confusing and frustrating, all the changes in guidance and mandates. However, we know that science is not stagnant. As this pandemic evolves and the more it is researched, the more information we will receive. We want people to change the rules based on new evidence. Change is good.
My good friend and IBDMoms partner, Amber Tresca, has been rolling out some great content on her website, AboutIBD, and her podcast during this pandemic. She has had some great insight on living through the pandemic with IBD and vaccinations. Check out her site here for more really informative content that is rooted in fact and experience.
Which Vaccine Should I Get?
Short Answer: Whichever you are offered!
In the United States, only three vaccines have been approved by the FDA and are available to the public. Vaccines were created by Moderna, Pfizer, and Janssen for Johnson & Johnson (J&J). But what is the difference? The biggest difference that you should be concerned about as a recipient is that the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines are two shots, up to 28 days apart. While the J&J vaccine is a single shot. I know that doesn’t temper your fears or answer your questions. Alright, let’s break it down a bit.
We recently heard a governor turn away the J&J vaccine to hold out for more Pfizer and Moderna vaccines. He said he didn’t because he wanted the best and that the J&J vaccine based on the percentage in efficacy he heard was not the best. It was good, but Pfizer and Moderna were best. I have to say I was a bit frustrated to hear that a Governor with public health advisors would make such a statement. First of all, if you are drowning and someone throughs you a life raft, are you gonna ask what brand? I mean, it was completely irresponsible for many reasons. But one is that he mislead people about the J&J vaccine. The percentage the Governor was referring to was the 72% overall efficacy. That number seems to be hanging a lot of people up. Because we’ve heard about the 95% efficacy in people without prior infection for the Pfizer vaccine. As well as the 94.1% efficacy in preventing infection in those without prior Covid-19 exposure. But guys, efficacy and effectiveness are slightly different. I now understand that these percentages of efficacy are how well the vaccine worked in the clinical trials. Not necessarily how its effectiveness works in the real world. It’s also important to remember that these vaccines are not cures; they are protections against hospitalization and severe disease, leading to death or long-lasting symptoms. What are the numbers for the J&J when it comes to lowering the risk of severe disease and hospitalizations? Well, they range between 85-100%. Which is competitive with the other two vaccines. All in all, whatever is offered to you, please take it.
For those who are hesitant to take the vaccine because they are uneasy about the speed of the vaccine or the mechanism or the side effects, know this:
- The technology to make these vaccines has been around and is finally being utilized because of the money put behind vanquishing this pandemic.
- The side effects you MAY feel are because you are building antibodies against the virus.
- Dr. Kizzmekia Corbett is the leading scientist on the Coronavirus Vaccine at the NIH. I don’t know about you, but I’ve always found that following Black women is the way to go.
- Black people are not more susceptible to Covid-19 because we are Black. It’s because systemic racism has created disparities in our healthcare where patient’s co-morbidities are not cared for properly; we are ignored or turned away regardless of our socio-economic status. So, we must empower ourselves and keep ourselves safe because we are 3 times more likely to get Covid-19 and then die from lack of proper care.
How Do We Prepare Our Kids?
Since the beginning of this pandemic, we have been treating this whole year like an everlasting flu season on steroids. What does that mean? It means that just like in the fall season, when the flu is prevalent, we take extra precautions, especially with Hippo in Elementary School. Because let’s face it, kids are gross! Once things start to open up more, things will change dramatically for our kids just as quickly as they shut down. Some kids have already been back in the classroom on a part-time basis. Some kids, like mine, have not seen the inside of a classroom in a year. They’ve only seen their friends through a screen or had concise interactions from a distance. Trying to get them to a cautioned normal groove will be a bit difficult. The excitement of hanging with their friends and having Roblox sessions in person will be completely overwhelming. They will forget to social distance, wash hands and not touch their face after touching doorknobs. And although kids have a lower possibility of infection, they are not complexly immune to Covid or carry it. So, it’s important to take precautions. Here are some of the rules we have decided on.
Masks that fit
Start practicing wearing the mask indoors to help their comfort level with wearing a mask for a few hours at a time. Having a properly fitted mask will help with this too.
Covid Care Package
In addition to sending a box of extra masks, hand sanitizer, disinfecting wipes, and antibacterial soap to school, I will be sending Hippo with his own Covid Safety Kit. He will have a packet of hand wipes. Trial size antibacterial soap. Two extra masks. Hand Sanitizer. I have also thought about sending extra pens and pencils for his classmates to have at their desks, just if they lose their supplies and may have to borrow them. This might keep the germ sharing down.
Shower. Change. Laundry
As soon as your LO gets home, after washing their hands, have them remove their school clothes and take a shower. Then make sure to wash all of their school clothes together. We always did this as kids, and I’ve always made Hippo do it no matter what. But now it seems even more important. It’s easier to get them showered than trying to monitor an up to the elbows washing and face scrubbing.
I have been getting Hippo used to Covid testing. We have tested often throughout the pandemic and will continue to do so. This will be very helpful and useful once everything opens up more. Making this routine for your LO will help to alleviate anxieties.
Knowing your status can save lives!
We Are Gonna Be Alright
One year later, y’all. There has been a lot of change, disappointment, and grief. But hope & help are on the horizon. Stay safe and keep looking out for one another. We are all we got!