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This is a weekly Q and A column written by Dr. Lydia S. Segal in conjunction with Chaffee County Public Health. This column is focused on questions readers have about COVID-19 news and sciences.  As Segal points out, ‘Everything I write today is valid for today. COVID-19 news and science are rapidly evolving, assume updates will be made”

This week, I want to answer questions from my family and friends. These questions focus on how to handle the pandemic and the vaccines.

QUESTION:  My 90-year-old mother-in-law asks  “Can I visit the great-grandkids and hug them, read to them?  She has self-isolated for the last year. She is fully vaccinated.”  The children are a 4-year-old in daycare and a seven-year-old in elementary school.  They have had all their childhood vaccinations and do not appear to have had COVID.

ANSWER:  New research presented by Daniel Griffin MD, PHD on This Week in Virology shows that more children, roughly between the ages of 8 and 18, than previously estimated get asymptomatic or mild cases that result in decreased athletic function. Additionally, there is an extremely rare COVID version that is life-threatening, estimated to occur in one in a million children. So seeing, hugging, and in general, interacting with the great-grandchildren is safe for my mother-in-law and likely for the great-grandchildren. The biggest concern is their parents, who are in their 30s. Both work outside the home where they interact with the public on a daily basis. Because of their age, they have not been vaccinated yet, but plan to as soon as they are eligible. They do mask, social distance, and frequent hand washing.

The best situation would be to visit outside or socially distance and mask up inside. My common sense answer, which concurs with the informal advice of infectious disease experts, is to keep your distance from the parents, and mask if inside at a close distance for another few months. This extra caution is to protect them in case you are an asymptomatic carrier.  Recommendations about life after vaccination were released earlier this month by the CDC. The link to this information:

QUESTION:  My 72-year-old brother has hypertension, elevated cholesterol, and obesity. Since he retired, he became a voracious reader, currently focused on COVID vaccines. He has strong doubts about the vaccines thinking they are just too new to trust. His 60-year-old school teacher wife was recently vaccinated and asks me how she can convince him to get a vaccine.

ANSWER: Due to his vaccine ‘hesitancy’, I would suggest he read about the newly FDA-approved Johnson  & Johnson (J & J) vaccine.  The method used to produce the vaccine is ‘old school’ and has been around for more than a decade. And it is only one dose. It is 85 percent effective against mild and moderate cases in the USA compared to the mRNA vaccines by Moderna and Pfizer, which are 95 percent effective. Remind him that all three vaccines are 100  percent effective against death and severe cases requiring ICU hospitalization.

QUESTION:  A friend in his mid-50s asks, “I got COVID in the fall from someone at work. I had a mild to moderate case, stayed home, and recovered. I only used over-the-counter medications for my symptoms.”  He wants to know, does he need a vaccine, and if so, two doses or one? 

ANSWER: The CDC recommends getting vaccinated even if you have had COVID, whether you had a mild or severe case requiring hospitalization. The reason to get vaccinated is the added strength and duration of immune response the vaccine confers over just the immune response from getting COVID-19. The question of the protection from one shot of the vaccine or two is being reviewed by the CDC. Currently, they are recommending the full dosing schedule of the mRNA, i.e. two doses, or a single of the J & J.

QUESTION: My cousin works in an out-of-state grocery store full time. She also does some restaurant server work when it’s available. She doesn’t see the point of masking or social distancing hasn’t gotten sick, and thinks COVID -19 is exaggerated by the media. Her husband who is immunocompromised has given up trying to convince her. My cousin is annoyed that her friends think she should get vaccinated so they can party together. Any suggestions? 

ANSWER: If my cousin still insists she will not get the vaccination, even knowing that it endangers her immunocompromised husband, there is little that can be done except make clear to her that no one will see her, not her friends nor her relatives until she does. And do not give up trying to talk to her about the necessity of getting vaccinated and of following social distancing and mask requirements. At some point, she might listen.

For more information about COVID and the vaccines, eligibility, and appointments, see the links below. Pharmacies are getting small shipments of vaccines. Information will be posted on AVV and on the county public health and hospital web pages.

Buena Vista resources for vaccines:   Buena Vista Drug and Valley-Wide Health

If you have questions you would like Dr. Segal to address in a future COVID Q and A column, please write to

By Lydia S, Segal, MD, MPH

Dr. Segal is a board-certified family physician who is attempting to retire. She holds a Masters in Public Health and co-teaches with members of the Pelvic Physical Therapy staff at HRRMC classes on men’s and women’s pelvic health. In her former life, she was a general assignment reporter. In her spare time, she hikes, skis and cooks.