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COVID-19 Vaccines are Rolling Out. Should I Be Worried?

By William Moss, Executive Director | Published by John Hopkins University of Medicine Coronavirus Resource Center

The views and opinions expressed here are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the position of either Johns Hopkins University and Medicine or the University of Washington.

  • Rumors and conspiracy theories about Covid-19 vaccines are circulating, but it is critical to separate fact from fiction.
  • As with shingles and flu vaccines, the Pfizer and Moderna mRNA vaccines cause expected and temporary side effects – local inflammation (redness and swelling) at the site of injection or more generalized reactions such as fever and muscle aches.
  • We will learn much more about side effects associated with the mRNA vaccines as more people are vaccinated – including more about vaccine safety in children younger than 16 years of age, pregnant and lactating women, and immunocompromised individuals.

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Congratulations to Anahit Avanesyan

Anahit AvanesyanCongratulations to Anahit Avanesyan for being the first woman ever appointed to the position of Minister of Healthcare of Armenia by President Armen Sarkissian. Her previous positions include serving as Deputy Minister of Health since May 2018, and as First Deputy Minister since May 2020.

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Feasibility and integration of an intensive emergency pediatric care curriculum in Armenia

Published by Aline Baghdassarian, Al M. Best, Anushavan Virabyan, Claire Alexanian, Shant Shekherdimian, Sally A. Santen & Hambartzum Simonyan | International Journal of Emergency Medicine
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Background
Emergency pediatric care curriculum (EPCC) was developed to address the need for pediatric rapid assessment and resuscitation skills among out-of-hospital emergency providers in Armenia. This study was designed to evaluate the effectiveness of EPCC in increasing physicians’ knowledge when instruction transitioned to local instructors. We hypothesize that (1) EPCC will have a positive impact on post-test knowledge, (2) this effect will be maintained when local trainers teach the course, and (3) curriculum will satisfy participants.

Methods
This is a quasi-experimental, pre-test/post-test study over a 4-year period from October 2014‑November 2017. Train-the-trainer model was used. Primary outcomes are immediate knowledge acquisition each year and comparison of knowledge acquisition between two cohorts based on North American vs local instructors. Descriptive statistics was used to summarize results. Pre-post change and differences across years were analyzed using repeated measures mixed models.

Results
Test scores improved from pretest mean of 51% (95% CI 49.6 to 53.0%) to post-test mean of 78% (95% CI 77.0 to 79.6%, p < 0.001). Average increase from pre- to post-test each year was 27% (95% CI 25.3 to 28.7%). Improvement was sustained when local instructors taught the course (p = 0.74). There was no difference in improvement when experience in critical care, EMS, and other specialties were compared (p = 0.23). Participants reported satisfaction and wanted the course repeated. In 2017, EPCC was integrated within the Emergency Medicine residency program in Armenia.

Discussion
This program was effective at impacting immediate knowledge as well as participant satisfaction and intentions to change practice. This knowledge acquisition and reported satisfaction remained constant even when the instruction was transitioned to the local instructors after 2 years. Through a partnership between the USA and Armenia, we provided OH-EPs in Armenia with an intensive educational experience to attain knowledge and skills necessary to manage acutely ill or injured children in the out-of-hospital setting.

Conclusions
EPCC resulted in significant improvement in knowledge and was well received by participants. This is a viable and sustainable model to train providers who have otherwise not had formal education in this field.

Best Practices

Best PracticesInfectious disease specialist Dr. Tsoline Kojaoghlanian is a case study in giving back to the community.

When COVID-19 began its inexorable spread across the United States, with mass anxiety and confusion rising with
every uptick in what came to be known as “the Curve,” Armenian health professionals and communities across the country had an inside edge: the eloquent and compelling Dr. Tsoline Kojaoghlanian. Despite an increasingly overwhelming professional reality in front of her, one that comes once a century, Dr. Kojaoghlanian felt an urgent call to service, determined to arm her own community with relevant and practical information.

From that point on, this persuasive dynamo, who appears week after week on household Zoom screens and Facebook pages across the Internet, is prepared to take questions, explain the science, vet the data, and give no-nonsense advice as to how families can stay safe and healthy. As a longstanding board member of the Armenian-American Health Professionals Organization (AAHPO) with a mission to promote and advance the science and art of healing and to educate and improve the health of the Armenian community, Dr. Kojaoghlanian felt an urgent call to service as soon as the news of the virus began circulating through the medical community in early 2020.

“I contacted key members of the AAHPO board. Speaking as an infectious disease specialist, I explained that this virus needed to be taken extremely seriously and urgently.”

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Examining Continuing Medical Education In Armenia

AAHPO member Gevorg Yaghjyan MD, PHD, recently co-authored an informative article published in the Journal of European CME, examining medical education and continuing professional development in Armenia, from past to present.

The article describes the phases of evolution of continuing medical education chronologically and details the legislative and regulatory framework surrounding each stage of development.

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What You Need To Know About The Ebola and Enterovirus D68

Ebola Virus

The CDC asserts that Ebola does not pose a significant risk to the U.S. public. Ebola is spread only through direct contact with bodily fluids, and people infected with Ebola are not contagious to others until symptoms have appeared. CDC has very well-established protocols in place to isolate people who may have been exposed and monitor them for appearance of Ebola symptoms. These protocols are being enforced in Texas.

Q. What is Ebola?
A.
Ebola virus is the cause of a viral hemorrhagic fever disease. Symptoms include: fever, headache, joint and muscle aches, weakness, diarrhea, vomiting, stomach pain, lack of appetite, and abnormal bleeding. Symptoms may appear anywhere from 2 to 21 days after exposure to ebolavirus though 8-10 days is most common.

Q: Are there any cases of individuals contracting Ebola in the U.S.?
A.
No.

Q. What about Americans ill with Ebola who are being brought to the U.S. for treatment?
A.
CDC has very well-established protocols in place to ensure the safe transport and care of patients with infectious diseases back to the United States. These procedures cover the entire process — from patients leaving their bedside in a foreign country to their transport to an airport and boarding a non-commercial airplane equipped with a special transport isolation unit, to their arrival at a medical facility in the United States that is appropriately equipped and staffed to handle such cases. CDC’s role is to ensure that travel and hospitalization is done to minimize risk of spread of infection and to ensure that the American public is protected. Patients were evacuated in similar ways during SARS.

Q. Can Ebola be transmitted through the air?
A. No. Ebola is not a respiratory disease like the flu, so it is not transmitted through the air.

Q. Can I get Ebola from contaminated food or water?
A.
No. Ebola is not a food-borne illness.  It is not a water-borne illness.

Q. Can I get Ebola from a person who is infected but doesn’t have any symptoms?
A.
No. Individuals who are not symptomatic are not contagious. In order for the virus to be transmitted, an individual would have to have direct contact with an individual who is experiencing symptoms.

Ebola Virus Q&A

Q. What is Ebola?
A. Ebola virus is the cause of a viral hemorrhagic fever disease. Symptoms include: fever, headache, joint and muscle aches, weakness, diarrhea, vomiting, stomach pain, lack of appetite, and abnormal bleeding. Symptoms may appear anywhere from 2 to 21 days after exposure to ebolavirus though 8-10 days is most common.

Q: Are there any cases of individuals contracting Ebola in the U.S.?
A.
No.

Q. What about Americans ill with Ebola who are being brought to the U.S. for treatment?
A.
CDC has very well-established protocols in place to ensure the safe transport and care of patients with infectious diseases back to the United States. These procedures cover the entire process — from patients leaving their bedside in a foreign country to their transport to an airport and boarding a non-commercial airplane equipped with a special transport isolation unit, to their arrival at a medical facility in the United States that is appropriately equipped and staffed to handle such cases. CDC’s role is to ensure that travel and hospitalization is done to minimize risk of spread of infection and to ensure that the American public is protected. Patients were evacuated in similar ways during SARS.

Q. Can Ebola be transmitted through the air?
A.
No. Ebola is not a respiratory disease like the flu, so it is not transmitted through the air.

Q. Can I get Ebola from contaminated food or water?
A.
No. Ebola is not a food-borne illness.  It is not a water-borne illness.

Q. Can I get Ebola from a person who is infected but doesn’t have any symptoms?
A.
No. Individuals who are not symptomatic are not contagious. In order for the virus to be transmitted, an individual would have to have direct contact with an individual who is experiencing symptoms.