Shingles, also known as Herpes Zoster, is caused by the dormant varicella-zoster virus, also known as chickenpox. Once chickenpox has resolved, the inactive remains of the virus can remain in nerve cells, which can cause shingles later in life.
Shingrix is a newer recombinant zoster vaccine that is up to 90% effective at preventing shingles. It is recommended for patients 50 and older, including those who recovered from Shingles or received the older shingles vaccine. The incidence of Shingles increases after the age of 50; therefore, it is important to be prevented as early as possible.
Shingles can cause excruciating pain along the nerves in the body affected. Any part of your body can be affected, including your face and eyes, but the chest and abdomen are the most common areas.
Shingles can also lead to complications, such as postherpetic neuralgia, which is severe nerve pain that lasts for several months or more after the rash has gone.
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Owing to massive polio vaccination campaigns worldwide, polio cases have dropped by 99% since the 1980s. But now, evidence of polio outbreaks is showing up in the wastewater of developed cities.
Polio can be a disabling and life-threatening disease, a highly infectious viral disease mainly affecting children under five. The virus spreads from person to person and can affect the nervous system, causing severe symptoms such as meningitis or paralysis. The primary transmission mode is through the faecal-oral route and through contaminated food and water in unsanitary conditions. As a precaution, we all need to practice good hand hygiene and wash our hands with soap and water.
The treatment options for polio are scarce; therefore, vaccination is the most effective way to prevent the disease. The polio vaccine prepares our bodies to fight the poliovirus. The polio vaccine is available to us, and we should ensure we are protected against polio. As adults, we should ensure that we are boosted with the Polio vaccine. Almost all children (99%) who get all the recommended doses of the polio vaccine will be protected from polio.
This season's influenza vaccines are now available for adults and children above the age of 3 years. Again this winter we face the possibilty of a dual threat from influenza and COVID-19 - so get vaccinated for both if you can.
HK SAR Government have new travel rules for inbound travellers from high risj countries. Details here. TLMC offer both COVID-19 PCR and Antibody testing at an approved HK laboratory.
New changes to UK inbound flights effective 28th June 2021.
The HKSAR Government has just released new changes to inbound flights due to the rising cases of the Delta variant in the UK. The change in country class from B to A2 means the quarantine period will be 21 days with NO reduction for fully immunised passengers. The scheme to reduce quarantine to 7 days with a positive COVID antibody test will also NOT apply to passengers arriving from the UK. Other countries in class B including France, Italy, Germany and USA are not affected by these changes.
For more information, go to the HK Government COVID travel site here.
You may still consider a COVID antibody blood test before you travel, in case the rules change again before you return to HK. At present, the HKSAR Government does not recognise any antibody tests done in any other country except HK and the certificate lasts for 3 months.
New guidelines have been released by the HKSAR Government here. In some cases the quarantine period has been reduced to 7 days if you have been fully vaccinated, test negative for COVID-19 and have a positive COVID-19 antibody test within the past 3 months. This antibody blood test from an approved laboratory (Pathlab) is available at The London for our patients to have, before they travel for the summer. Contact us for more details.
YES, is the short answer. Except for a very small proportion of people - outlined in the HK Government leaflet below, most people are suitable for the vaccine. Please get one asap to protect yourself, others around you and the rest of the population.
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At The London Medical Clinic, we will make sure to share any new information regarding the vaccination with our patients. Unlike other vaccines, private clinics are not allowed to order the COVID-19 vaccines directly from the drug companies, as the vaccines will be allocated to the doctors from the government. So far our understanding is that:
2020 has been an unprecedented year. The virus continues to spread at a slow burn; occasional lockdowns are now normal.
We believe an increase in the transmission is likely to happen as the weather gets colder. COVID-19 is likely to have a seasonal oscillation leading to more winter outbreaks like many human respiratory viruses such as influenza.
Peoples' immunity are also generally lower and they are more likely to remain indoors in winter, where transmission of the virus through droplets can be a greater risk.
The common differences between Cold, Flu, or COVID-19:
However, with the winter period approaching patients may get flu-like symptoms and be worried if it is a cold, flu, or COVID-19. Some of the symptoms of flu and COVID-19 are similar, and therefore it may be hard to tell the difference between them based on symptoms alone, and testing may help confirm a diagnosis. Flu and COVID-19 share many characteristics, but there are some key differences between the two.
While more is learned every day, there is still a lot that is unknown about COVID-19 and the virus that causes it. The following table compares all 3 conditions, given the best available information to date.
The risk of complications for healthy children is higher for flu compared to COVID-19. However, infants and children with underlying medical conditions are at increased risk for both flu and COVID-19. Doctors diagnose flu based on clinical signs and readily available laboratory tests. Flu vaccine will provide 70% protection against 4 predicated strains this year. Medication to treat flu is available.
If a person has COVID-19, it could take them longer to develop symptoms than if they had flu. COVID-19's main symptoms are headache, fatigue, fever and mild to severe cough.
From the current data we have we know that symptoms can be very similar to flu and there are even differences in the symptoms suffered between age groups. The standard high temperature, continuous cough and loss of taste and smell may not appear for those aged below 18 and above 65. You don't see (loss of taste and smell) in older people and in kids at all. Despite scientists around the world working at lighting speed to produce a vaccine, currently there is no vaccine to prevent COVID-19 or effective treatment for COVID-19.
A Molecular Test (Sputum test)
The molecular test is also known as a polymerase chain reaction test (PCR). This detects the virus's genetic material that triggers COVID-19. It involves collecting an early morning sputum sample and is the most commonly performed test in Hong Kong.
A nasopharyngeal swab can also be done. Again, this is a COVID-19 PCR test however it involves swabbing the inside of your nose or throat. It is usually done in hospital where full PPE is worn.
Blood Test (Serology test)
This tests for antibodies in your blood. A few days or weeks after you are infected, they are produced in the body. There are two different types of antibodies. One which informs us if you currently have the infection IgM and one which indicates if you've been infected in the past with conditions, COVID-19 IgG. This test has a lower accuracy rate. Commercially available test relies on picking up these antibodies in your blood.
Are there any tests to distinguish Cold, Flu or COVID-19?
A doctor can usually make a diagnosis based on history taking, examination, looking at vital statistics and with some test results. We can then prescribe some medication for someone to pick up on your behalf to ease your symptoms or prescribe specific medicine for influenzas. In Hong Kong at present, all positive COVID-19 PCR tests are reported to public health department which would warrant compulsory hospital admission.
The 2020/2021 flu vaccine is now available in the clinic and with COVID-19 still in circulation - it is even more important this year to have it. There is an anticipation that there may be a worldwide shortage of flu vaccine this year as well.
We conclude by reiterating a few basic safety measures again to protect you and your family: