Dr. Rajeev Fernando is one of New York's top infectious disease specialists, and this week he talks about a possible second wave of COVID-19, how safe the vaccine will be, and should you wear a mask when sitting around your fire pit.

When you need to know what's happening with the coronavirus, join KICKS 105.5 every Thursday morning. Dr. Rajeev Fernando answers your COVID-19 questions.

You were recently in Oregon helping COVID-19 patients during the wildfires, does that type of smoke make you more susceptible to the virus?

"That's absolutely correct, I'm very concerned about that. When the air quality gets that poor, there are a number of health risks involved due to all the particles that attach to your lungs. You know, people who are smokers have a much higher risk of getting severe COVID-19."

Now, here in Connecticut and New York, we don't see those kind of fires, but with fall here and people hanging out by their fire pit, should you wear a mask when you're doing that to protect yourself from the smoke?

"No, I don't really think so, but the clear cut thing is generally wear a mask whenever you can. With the winter season coming up, there will be a lot of people indoors, and when you have many people inside, you're at a much higher risk for COVID-19."

Ryan in Bethel wants to know, since there's a second wave already developing in England, does that mean we're next, just like what happened in March and April?

"That's a great question, and yes we are seeing a second wave in countries like England, Spain, and France too. Some of these countries are actually going back into a lock down mode, so this is very concerning. I personally feel that since the cases have virtually gone down to a baseline in this country, then the east coast states are at a higher risk for getting a second wave. What I think is really key is preparation, we still have a little time, but we need to be ready this time. I'm also concerned about our healthcare workers, these people have been severely affected from a psychiatric perspective, so it's really important for them to get counseling. We're going to be setting ourselves up for another few months of cases, and something else to keep in mind, in the winter, the elderly tend to get sicker and are more prone to contracting the virus, so that's why the preparation for this second wave is so important."

Mary Beth in Pawling wants to know if you think the vaccine will be safe when it's finally released, since 32 percent of people say they will not get vaccinated?

"That's a problem, right now when they talk about releasing the vaccine in record time, people get skeptical. I'm sure the vaccine won't be released until it's thoroughly vetted, but the other thing is, there's not going to be mass distribution of these vaccines until sometime in the middle of next year, so I wouldn't bank on an early release for the general public. This is not the time to get a vaccine, you have to wait for more data to be sure it's 100 percent safe".

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