Dr. Stephen Prescott, Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation president, answers your medical questions about coronavirus and COVID-19.
I’m hearing that “priority populations” will be the first to receive a vaccine once it is approved and available. What is considered a “priority population” in Oklahoma?
“Priority populations will be decided by the CDC and local government agencies like the Oklahoma State Department of Health. Both have suggested the first phase of vaccination could include health care workers and people who work in long-term care facilities. It’s essentially going to address the people at greatest risk of exposure who we need to keep “in the game,” so to speak. I imagine the second wave to receive the vaccine will be our essential workers and people who are high risk, like those with underlying conditions or older adults.
Along with being worried about catching COVID-19, I’m concerned about the flu. When should I get my flu shot?
“Get your flu shot soon as possible. It is not too early to get it. Those 65 and up should be sure to get the high-dose vaccine to get the most protection.”
How much longer do you believe we will have the guidance to wear masks?
“This ties into the question about the flu. I would not be surprised to see mask regulations remain in effect until at least the end of flu season in spring 2021. By then, hopefully, we’ll have an approved vaccine for COVID-19 and flu risks will be going down. Plan on masking up all winter.”
I am hearing a lot about comorbidities and COVID-19 deaths. Can you explain the relationship?
“It simply means that you had an underlying condition like obesity, heart disease, cancer, diabetes or COPD that puts you at a higher risk for a bad outcome from COVID-19. Many conditions fall in this category, and because this virus is so new, researchers are still learning which pose the highest risks and why.”
There is a shortage of cleaning supplies, especially disinfectant wipes, at my grocery store. I hear this shortage will continue into next year. Should I use bleach to clean surfaces?
“Bleach is fantastic for cleaning surfaces. In fact, if you do it properly, there is really nothing better. Be sure it is diluted and follow the manufacturer’s instructions. And do not mix anything with it — ammonia mixed with bleach, for example, is very dangerous.
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AARP and coronavirus
AARP has been working to promote the health and well-being of older Americans for more than 60 years. In the face of this pandemic, AARP is providing information and resources to help older people and those caring for them protect themselves from the virus and prevent it spreading to others. AARP is compiling facts and resources about coronavirus and how you can protect yourself. We’re updating this information as rapidly as we can to ensure our AARP members have the information they need at www.aarp.org/coronavirus.