As the State gets children back to school, there is a protocol to follow if your child develops symptoms which may be indicative of COVID19 infection. Please refer to this publication by the Vermont Department of Health.
Vermonters and our state government have done a great job mitigating the risk of the coronavirus, COVID19. As we continue our efforts while gradually getting back to some normalcy (school attendance, jobs outside of the home etc) there are several principles we will need to follow in order to be successful.
Continuing to wear masks while in public, practicing good hand hygiene and physical distancing are of the utmost importance in continuing to control the pandemic in our State. Wearing a mask will help prevent spread of the virus by asymptomatic and pre-symptomatic individuals. Equally important is limiting unnecessary travel or contact with individuals who are at risk of exposing us to the virus, such as those traveling from other locations where control of COVID19 may not be as good.
In our present situation, in order to prevent spread, anyone with any viral symptoms should operate under the premise that COVID19 is the cause. Anyone with symptoms should generally STAY HOME. (Wearing a mask at home will help prevent spread of the virus to household contacts).
Symptoms range in severity from none (asymptomatic) to mild or severe including cold symptoms, cough, fever, body aches, breathing difficulty, loss of sense of taste or smell, and even gastrointestinal upset. Not everyone who becomes infected with COVID19 will experience fever or symptoms worse than a common cold. Medical attention should be sought for severe symptoms including persistent, well-localized pain (chest pain, ear pain) or breathing difficulties.
Antiviral therapies for those ill enough to be hospitalized are still in the experimental phase though several show significant promise.
Vaccinations are proceeding for adults at highest risk. The State is determining prioritization. One vaccine (Pfizer) is licensed to individuals 16 years of age and older, while the others are only for individuals 18 years and older. We have no information as to when vaccines will be available for use in children. COVID19 vaccination is approved for mothers who are breastfeeding and for pregnant women.
Testing for COVID19 is widely available. The most reliable tests remain those PCR tests which detect genetic material from the virus. Samples are obtained from the (infamous) nasopharyngeal swab but simple nasal swabs are available on a more limited basis for use in children.
Antibody tests are really still in the relatively early phases of development and are not as reliable, and results can be difficult to interpret.
We are not providing in-office COVID19 testing for individuals unless also demonstrating symptoms in need of in-person medical attention. This is in order to preserve PPE (personal protective equipment) which is in short supply, and to prevent doctors and staff in our office from becoming ill (which would preclude us from taking care of our patients).
Testing requested by patients or by parents for their child can be performed at UVMMC, CVMC, Copley or Porter Hospitals. This should be prearranged and the test must typically be ordered by the primary care physician. The State also has “pop-up” testing sites and appointments can be arranged through the Vermont Department of Health website.
As usual, we will be on call 24 hours a day to help with questions and to see patients in need of in-person care. We have resumed seeing all patients for check-ups and any needs.
We will do our best to schedule such that different families will not be in the office at the same time. Cleaning of surfaces will take place between patients.
Please pay attention to the sign in the window which will indicate whether or not we are ready for you to proceed into the building. If you have questions, you can call from the parking lot.
Please be aware that if you or your child have an appointment for a check-up and have any viral symptoms, including simple cold symptoms, you should reschedule your appointment for at least a week later and after all symptoms have resolved in order to help prevent exposing others. Similarly, if you have traveled to a higher risk area or have been exposed to an individual at risk of having COVID19, you should reschedule your appointment for a later date (at least 14 days).
If you have an appointment at the office, please try to minimize the number of individuals coming, ideally to only the patient and one parent. (There certainly are exceptions, such as for newborn visits). This minimizes potential exposures.
Face coverings are required of anyone entering the building.
Please do not walk-in for a visit as this puts others at risk. Anyone with viral symptoms needs to talk with us before entering the office.
Anyone with significant symptoms potentially related to COVID19 disease needing attention (with the obvious exception of anyone needing emergency services) will be seen at our office by accessing a side-entrance and directed to an adjacent room reserved for individuals with potential COVID19-related illness. This will be by "appointment only".
A useful website that includes known symptoms, a "Coronavirus Self-Checker," information on testing, and information to raise awareness on how "fear and anxiety about a disease can lead to social stigma toward people, places, or things."