Dear Doctor: Is a person who had COVID-19 as protected as a vaccinated person?
Dear Doctor: Is a person who had COVID-19 as protected as a vaccinated person?

Dear Doctor: Is a person who had COVID-19 as protected as a vaccinated person?

DEAR DR. ROACH: My boyfriend and I are in our 50s, vaccinated and boosted. We have a child under the age of 12 who is fully vaccinated.

A close relative who is against both vaccinations and mask use is currently ill with COVID-19. The relative has insisted on being able to visit us indoors in our home during the entire pandemic. We have always said no. Now this person believes that after their cure they will be as protected from coronavirus as a vaccinated person is and insists on visiting us indoors on this basis.

My boyfriend and I are not on the same page about this. We have other health conditions and generally avoid mixing indoors. – Anon.

ANSWER: The evidence is clear that a person’s risk of getting COVID-19 again is very low in the 30 days after infection. Then the person begins to take risks again. That risk is even greater if the variant is different from the one the person was infected with. As I write this, the omicron variant is the dominant strain, but by the time this column comes out, a new variant may have already emerged, possibly one that is even better at escaping protection from vaccination or previous infection. Unfortunately, it looks like we’ll be living with COVID-19 for the foreseeable future.

A combination of vaccination and a history of the disease is very high protection, even if it is not perfect. Given your increased risk due to other medical conditions, I would advise against seeing your close relative indoors until / unless they are vaccinated.

DEAR DR. ROACH: I’ve been suffering from constant headaches for years. I got an assessment from a neurologist, with all kinds of x-rays and scans. Who in the medical field deals with headaches that never go away? They can get a dull ache, but I always know they’re there. – CV

ANSWER: Chronic daily headaches are a concern I hear from time to time. In my experience as a primary care physician, cause # 1 is drug overuse headache. Most people I have seen with this have had migraines that were treated with short-term painkillers for so long that the body got used to the medication. Each time the medication is stopped, the pain returns, leading to continuous use and persistent headaches. In these cases, the medication needs to be stopped and different types of medication are used to get someone through the process of getting rid of the medication.

There are other options. Although chronic migraine can cause very frequent headaches, a person with persistent migraine is unusual. Similarly, people may have chronic tension headaches, but for them, it is beyond my experience to give in. If the pain was only on one side, the diagnosis could be an unusual condition called “hemicrania continua,” which can be incessant.

All neurologists have expertise in migraines and other headaches, but some neurologists make headaches their only focus. Seek out a neurologist with special expertise in the diagnosis and treatment of headaches.

Dr. Roach regrets that he is unable to answer individual letters, but will incorporate them into the column whenever possible. Readers can email questions to [email protected] or send mail to 628 Virginia Dr., Orlando, FL 32803.

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