Frequently Asked Questions about COVID-19 — June 30, 2021

  “Shared expectations lead to predictability.”

 306. Vaccination during pregnancy

         Q:  Are pregnant women getting vaccinated?

         A:   A CDC report dated June 18 identified that 16.3% of pregnant women in the U.S. who were identified in the CDC Vaccine Safety Datalink had received at least one dose of the COVID vaccine during their pregnancy.  All authorized vaccines are safe and effective for pregnant women.  The data showed that vaccination was lowest among Hispanic (11.9%), non-Hispanic Black women (6.0%), and women aged 16-24 (5.5%).  Vaccination was highest for non-Hispanic Asian women (24.7%) and women aged 36-49 (22.7%).  Pregnant women are at increased risk for severe illness and death from COVID-19.  These data show the need for increased outreach by healthcare workers to access those groups who are at risk.

307. Long duration of symptoms common for many non-hospitalized COVID patients

        Q: How long do symptoms linger for COVID patients treated as outpatients?

        A: Long-term, chronic conditions have been studied for seriously ill hospitalized COVID patients.  But little is known about the milder cases that were treated with patients being treated at home and in isolation.  An article published June 23 in Nature Medicine identified a cohort or group of 312 patients in Norway after 6 months following their diagnosis.  Of this group, 247 (85%) were not hospitalized.  Of both groups, 61% had persistent symptoms.  Over half (52%) of those with persistent problems were treated as outpatients, with milder disease.  The conditions remaining after recovery from treatment at home included loss of taste or smell (28%), fatigue (21%), shortness of breath (13%), impaired concentration (13%), and memory problems (11%).  This study highlights the impact even mild cases of COVID can leave behind.

308. COVID infections can occur in the hospital between patients in shared rooms

         Q:  Can untested asymptomatic COVID patients infect others in hospital rooms?

         A:  A study recently accepted for publication by the Oxford University Press for the Infectious Diseases Society of America explores COVID transmission between hospitalized patients in shared rooms at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston.  Among exposed roommates of patients who had undiagnosed COVID, 39% tested positive within 14 days.  Many of them tested positive after leaving the hospital, so it is possible other transmissions were missed.  The researchers stressed the importance of adequate testing and isolation of hospitalized patients.

309. Should school children this fall wear masks or not?

         Q:  What’s all the controversy about children wearing masks in school next fall?

         A:  Schools are making plans now for the opening of school next fall.  September is just three months away.  CDC has not reacted to requests for guidance this far in advance because the data is not yet available.  Will vaccine authority be given in time for children to get their shots in time?  Will COVID cases be further contained by more people getting vaccinated?  Will the more infectious Delta variant be more dominant by then?  CDC wants to wait before they give guidance.  In this vacuum, an increasing demand is emerging to “return to normal” by just eliminating masks as a requirement.  Lawsuits are being filed to “ban the mask.”  TV stations are asking viewers to call in to respond to instant polls usually showing “no masks” the preferred choice.  No one is explaining the threat to unvaccinated children from more aggressive variants.  At least so far…

310. Birthday parties studied for risk of COVID transmission among children

         Q:  Can play dates and birthday parties be a current risk for children?

         A:  An original investigation was published June 21 online by JAMA Int Med assessing the association between small social gatherings such as birthday celebrations and the risk of COVID-19.  Using nationwide data from January 1 to November 8, 2020 from 2.9 million households with private insurance to compare COVID-19 infections between households with and without a birthday in the preceding two weeks, stratified according to county-level COVID-19 prevalence in that week.  The findings showed that in counties with a birthday, there was an increase of 8.6 cases per 10,000 individuals over households without a birthday.  The study separated this into two groups by counties for adult birthdays (5.8 per 10,000 persons) and child birthdays (15.8 per 10,000).  This suggests that small social gatherings are a potentially important source of COVID transmission among children.  This is especially important now as the more infectious Delta variant is spreading throughout the U.S. while vaccinations for children under age 12 are not available.

(Covid Act Now provided valuable resources for much of the information on these FAQs)