By Dr. Mallika Marshall

BOSTON (CBS) – Dr. Mallika Marshall is answering your coronavirus-related medical questions. If you have a question for Dr. Mallika, email her or message her on Facebook or Twitter.

Dr. Mallika is offering her best advice, but as always, consult your personal doctor before making any decisions about your personal health.

We are going to visit my granddaughter in Michigan who is high risk. Should we get a COVID test before traveling? How long is the test valid for? – Nancy

I think it would be wise to get tested before you go, but the test is only valid for that moment in time. You could have a negative test one moment and be exposed to the virus moments later. So just be really careful during your travels. You will probably also need to be tested when you return or plan to quarantine for 14 days.

Debbie wants to know if it’s safe to eat inside or outside at restaurants.

I personally wouldn’t eat indoors at a restaurant. You’re in an enclosed space with other people who must take their masks off to eat. I don’t think it’s worth the risk. Eating outdoors is much safer, but I still think you should only dine with the people you live with. It’s virtually impossible to maintain at least a six-foot distance at a table and again, you’re taking your masks off to eat and drink. If you have questions about what precautions restaurants are taking, I would ask them before sitting down to eat.

Why is it ok to eat at a restaurant but you should bring your own food to eat outside with people? – Ruth in Lexington

You don’t want to share utensils or serving dishes with people you don’t live with which is why it’s generally recommended that you bring your own food and drink to a gathering with others. If you eat at a restaurant, which you should really only do with household members, the dinnerware is cleaned between customers.

Seniors receive a stronger dose of the regular flu vaccine. How likely is it that they will also need an enhanced version of any successful vaccine for COVID-19? – William

That’s unclear but it’s certainly being studied. Vaccines often don’t produce as robust an immune response in older individuals as they do in younger ones. But in at least one trial of an experimental coronavirus vaccine, older volunteers had an even greater immune response than younger volunteers. We’ll have to see what happens in additional trials.

Dr. Mallika Marshall


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