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Doc’s Medical Minute

Airman smiling in a doctor's coat.

Medical Minute by U.S. Air Force Col. Ryan Mihata, 86th Medical Group commander, at Ramstein Air Base, Germany. (U.S. Air Force graphic by Regina Burbidge)

RAMSTEIN AIR BASE, Germany --

COVID-19 is aggressively making a resurgence across Europe, with over three times the cases we saw in the spring.

In Germany, the highest incidences are in the 35-59 age group, followed by the 15-34 age group. Last weekend, the country reported the highest number of daily cases – nearly 15,000 – and Kaiserslautern County turned red (high risk). To date, Germany has had more than 10,000 deaths with over 437,000 cases, a rate of about 2.2%. The United States has many more cases (8.5 million) with a similar death rate, 2.6% (223,000 deaths). The only recent comparison is the 2009 H1N1 Influenza Pandemic where 60.8 million U.S. cases led to 18,000 deaths. Looking back at the 1918 Influenza Pandemic, an estimated 500 million cases had a 3.5% death rate.

If you have questions, such as what happens if you or a friend gets COVID-19, check out the FAQ posted on the Ramstein AB website: https://www.ramstein.af.mil/COVID-19/

Halloween is upon us, and the pandemic has impacted the way communities will celebrate this year. If you do participate in any Halloween activities, please take special precautions such as frequent handwashing, keeping your distance and incorporating a cloth face covering as part of your costume. The Centers for Disease Control states a costume mask is not a substitute for a cloth mask. For more helpful guidance, visit the CDC website: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/daily-life-coping/holidays/halloween.html

As mentioned last week, we will soon be entering influenza season. Protective measures for COVID will also decrease the spread of influenza. Across the United States and Europe, influenza activity is minimal. The influenza vaccine is one key to protection. TRICARE beneficiaries who are children 3 and under and adults 65 and older can come to the Ramstein Immunizations Clinic to receive the vaccine. Patients age 4-65 receive a different vaccine. We administered our initial shipment of 5,000 doses to first responders, medical personnel and active duty. We are expecting 15,000 additional doses to arrive in the next two weeks, and we will publish more details once we receive the shipment.

On a final note, there is a concerning trend with individuals going to work or school while they have (even minimal) symptoms of illness. If you have any symptoms that could be COVID or influenza, stay home and call your clinic, nurse advice line, or primary care provider for advice.

Help keep us all healthy!