February 13,2021

masks and air filters

Many of you have had at least your first dose of a vaccine, a few your second, most are still waiting and wondering when their turn will come and how to find one. Due to the slow rollout and limits in manufacturing and distribution, reaching everyone will take months. But 37.4 million have been vaccinated in the US now and that should speed up, especially when the Johnson & Johnson vaccine is approved later this month.

By now, many of you have either experienced or heard about the side effects of the vaccine especially after the second shot, and especially if you are are younger than 65. I had a really sore arm with redness and some mild fatigue, but 3 of my colleagues missed a day of work with fevers and fatigue. Apparently, people who have had COVID before have similar reactions with the first dose. The is due to your body’s immune response to the vaccine.

These reactions are different than an allergic reaction that can be life threatening. Those are still rare per an article in JAMA, about 4.7 per million with the Pfizer and 2.5 per million with the Moderna vaccine. This New England Journal Article has more detail about the Moderna vaccine study and goes into great detail in the Supplementary Appendix regarding follow up monitoring with reassuring data regarding safety.

While we all wait for our friends, family, selves, neighborhood, city, state, world to get vaccinated, we are still encouraged to wear masks and distance as needed. Our situation is complicated by the new variants which can be more infectious and may slip past immunity from prior infections, or someone who didn’t make a big immune response to the vaccines, or is still early in their immune response to the vaccine.

But now we know more about masks and that they really do help prevent infections. A year ago, we did not have good data but we have had a chance to collect a lot over the past year. Masks increase humidity in your airways which may be why they are protective. Mask fit seems to be a huge issue and helps in preventing transmission and also in preventing exposures. Double masking helps prevent exposures, more important now with the new variants. You can wear a cloth mask over a surgical mask or you can knot the ear loops of a surgical mask and tuck in the sides to decrease airflow. Using a second mask really helps make a closer fit. Better yet are N95 masks so I am thrilled to read about Ford Motor Company, yes the automaker Ford, continuing to make masks and face shields as well as ventilators. Now they are making clear masks out of N95 material that can be used to help with communication with the hard of hearing. So many people with hearing loss rely on lip reading. Mask wearing has made their lives challenging. Having clear masks is a game changer for many.

But the coolest thing Ford is doing is sharing their design of an air filter kit that can be made from cardboard, a box fan, and an air filter. These affordable air filters can be used in situations where you must be indoors. They can be used in school settings and they are donating 20,000 to underserved communities. You can find the open source instructions here. Plus, I can see them being used when wildfire season returns to the west later this year, which is starting to feel inevitable.

Wash your hands, cover your nose, keep safe six, and make sure your mask fits.

And finally, my caveat is that this is my experience and my opinions, which are subject to change as more information is available, and not related to the organization I work for. Thanks for reading

https://www.medpagetoday.com/special-reports/exclusives/91157

https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jama/fullarticle/2776557

https://www.nejm.org/doi/suppl/10.1056/NEJMoa2035389/

https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2021/02/210211113856.htm mask fit

https://www.seattletimes.com/seattle-news/health/cdc-urges-proper-mask-fit-double-masks-in-some-cases-to-protect-against-virus-variants/

https://www.washingtonpost.com/health/2021/02/10/cdc-double-masks-covid/

https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2021/02/210212193224.htm mask humidity

https://www.seattletimes.com/business/fords-next-pandemic-mission-clear-n95-masks-and-low-cost-air-filters/

https://media.ford.com/content/fordmedia/fna/us/en/news/2021/02/02/ford-ramps-up-finishstrong-initiative.html

https://www.dropbox.com/sh/pmlumsqjt72t9io/AAA8x1AhgviuncNVein0YcTYa/COVID-19%20Air%20Filtration%20Box%20Fan%20Kits?dl=0&preview=How+to+Assemble+a+COVID-19+Air+Filtration+Box+Fan.pdf&subfolder_nav_tracking=1