HealthWatch: How you can help stop the pandemic

Health Watch

Hospitals are filling up, health care workers are nearing exhaustion and we’re heading into holidays. It’s easy to get overwhelmed and feel helpless, but as we wait for the life-saving vaccine for coronavirus, a couple local doctors point to the community-at-large as a main factor in ending the COVID-19 pandemic. Here’s what you can do to help.

“Right now, it is extremely important not to quit before the finish line, ” said Dr. Raul Mendoza with Aurora BayCare Medical Center. Mendoza is a pulmonologist in Critical Care Medicine, fighting on the front lines in the battle against COVID-19.

“We’re just weeks away from having potentially life-saving interventions,” Mendoza said, referring to a coronavirus vaccine. “Please give us a fighting chance.”

Mendoza and his colleague, Dr. Donald Beno, Auroroa BayCare Medical Center Pediatrics, both expressed concern heading into the upcoming holiday season, that the pandemic could become a “twin-demic.”

“Our concern is that our staffs would be overtaxed if we have both the flu and COVID at the same time,” said Beno.

Even as the top talent in their field, both these doctors said it’s not them who actually have the most power to stop this pandemic heading into the holidays

“It’s on you,” Mendoza explained. “If you are planning to have a big family gathering, you may contribute to the delay of this pandemic.”

As the nation shows an outpouring of support for medical workers with banners, applause and other kind gestures, the workers themselves say one of the best ways you can help…

“All ages, six months and up, should get the flu vaccine,” said Beno.

“It is extremely important for you to get the vaccine for something we know we can prevent,” added Mendoza.

The doctors say it is possible to get COVID-19 and the flu at the same time. A combination, they said, that can be deadly.

“They have about six times more chances of dying (with both viruses) as compared to either infection alone,” Mendoza warned.

If you’re still tempted to get together over the holidays, with or without your flu shot, consider this story from a recent CDC report.

“Earlier this year an Iowa college student tested negative for COVID-19, so she thought it was safe to go home to see her family in Wisconsin,” recalled Mendoza. “She went up north with her parents. She had tested the previous day as negative but she didn’t know she was going to convert to positive the following day,” Mendoza went on, “and she infected everyone… everyone.”

As they continue battling to stop the spread of COVID-19, these physicians say there is something else they want to end as well.

“The flu vaccine will not make you sick,” said Beno. “There reason so many people misinterpret getting sick after they get a flu vaccine, is just because it’s given during a time when patients are getting sick with cold and cough symptoms.” Beno explained. He added that he’d love to administer flu vaccines in mid-summer just to disprove the connection theory. However, the flu vaccine doesn’t last long enough to be effective in that scenario.

The best gift we can give our loved ones this year, both doctors said, is space and patience.

“The best way to care for our families and our friends is to celebrate in our own households,” said Beno.

“Many lives can be saved if we just wait a little bit, ” implored Medoza. “Please give Grandma and Grandpa a fighting chance.”

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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