Friday, April 23, 2021

Guest post: College students: Think you’re immune from COVID-19? Think again

Avalon Aragon is a public health student at the George Washington University who is interning with APHA’s Get Ready campaign. Earlier this year, she was diagnosed with COVID-19. She is sharing her experience with COVID-19 — how she felt, what she did and what she’s learned.  

How did I get COVID-19? To be honest, I’m not sure. I had a normal weekend and did the same things I usually carefully do with my social bubble. The members of my bubble — who agree to follow safety precautions and limit contact with other people — went on walks, did grocery shopping and otherwise safely spent time together. Then the week started. People in my bubble started to feel sick. We all got tested for COVID-19, and most of our group was positive, including me. 

Right away, I felt so many emotions. I was scared, sad, upset, worried and stressed. The local health department called me to do contact tracing. They helped me to talk with everyone I’d recently had contact with. It was hard to tell people I had COVID-19, but I knew it was for the best to keep everyone safe and healthy. 

For the next 10 days, I followed my doctor’s recommendations: I drank lots of fluids, ate balanced meals, got lots of sleep and stayed away from others. I also let my professors and bosses know my situation. Everyone was understanding. They told me to focus on my health and to not worry about work or due dates. I kept a log of my symptoms, which fortunately were mild. With the help of my friends, I was able to get necessities delivered to me so I did not have to leave my apartment. 

Overall, the experience was an emotional one. It was hard to be alone for 10 straight days. I did not have my parents to take care of me. I wasn’t able to see my friends and do things we always do, like our daily walks. I took time to rest and focused on getting better. I’m so grateful I didn’t have severe symptoms and was able to fully recover, as did my friends in my bubble.

Moving forward from COVID-19
I was very fortunate not to become severely ill from COVID-19. A lot of people my age think that they aren’t going to get sick from this, or that they won’t pass it to others. But that’s not true. 
Last summer, people under 30 made up more than 20% of COVID-19 cases, and they were very much giving it to other people around them, including their friends and families. When young adults get COVID-19, they end up hospitalized in intensive care about 20% of the time. Since the pandemic began in the U.S. last year, more than 2,000 people ages 18-29 in the U.S. have died from COVID-19. In light of my own experience, those facts are very sobering to me. It could have been much, much worse.

I know there are many people who haven’t fully recovered from COVID-19 like I did. The long-term effects some people have — including young people — are scary. Wearing a mask and following other health and safety guidelines are important to both end this pandemic and protect those at high risk for severe illness.

Even though I’ve recovered, I continue to follow guidelines to protect myself and others from COVID-19. I wash my hands, wear a mask and maintain physical distance. I’m looking forward to getting vaccinated! Now that COVID-19 vaccines are open to all, I highly recommend that everyone my age get theirs too.

This experience was not an enjoyable one, and I hope other college students continue to take care and remember it’s not just their lives they’re risking. 

Check out these tips for college students from CDC for more information on how to stay safe.

Monday, April 05, 2021

Life after Being Fully Vaccinated

Photo By FG Trade courtesy iStockphoto

If you are able to receive one of the three COVID-19 vaccines that are now available, do it! These vaccines will help protect you and others from getting very sick with COVID-19. When you do get your vaccine some things will change and some things will stay the same.

When are you considered fully vaccinated?

For the two-dose vaccines (Moderna and Pfizer) you are fully vaccinated two weeks after your second dose. For the one-dose vaccine (Johnson & Johnson) you are fully vaccinated two weeks after getting just one shot

What will change?

Once you are fully vaccinated you can socialize with other fully vaccinated people without wearing masks. You may also gather with unvaccinated people from one other household, as long as those people are not at a high risk for COVID-19. If you are exposed to COVID-19, you will not have to quarantine or get tested unless you show symptoms. You still should not socialize with individuals that are at high risk for COVID-19.   

What will stay the same?

Mask wearing and physical distancing in public areas will remain the same. Continue to avoid large gatherings with people from multiple households. Get tested if you have any COVID-19 symptoms, and stay away from other people until you feel better and get a negative test result. Once you are fully vaccinated, you can travel domestically and continue to follow CDC and airline guidelines.

We are still seeing too many cases of COVID-19 because not everyone is following the best practices we know will help stop the pandemic. That is why it’s so important to continue to wear a mask and practice physical distancing. Help protect others and do your part to end this pandemic.