dr deborah ektrom and dr juris bunkis at Yosemite

COVID-19 Update

Happy New Year!

Hello from all of us at Orange County Plastic Surgery in Newport Beach, CA and Salisbury Plastic Surgery in Worcester, MA. Dr. Ekstrom and I are both up in Yosemite, catching up some lose odds and ends and getting ready for 2021.

Can you believe it? This is the last day of 2020! This has certainly been a tragic year pandemic wise – but a lot of good things happened this year which allowed us to reshuffle our priorities, reorganize our businesses and our lives, read many more books than we would have had time to read otherwise, eat well and get even more fit. These positive changes will make our lives better and healthier for years to come!

This was another incredible week COVID-19 news wise! As Governors continue to impose new restrictions, the number of infected people and deaths sky rocket, and hospitals and ICU’s overfill. The numbers are staggering – 19.7 million Americans have contracted COVID-19 infection and 341 thousand have died! In Massachusetts, 353 thousand people have been infected and over 12 thousand have died! In much larger California, we now have 2.25 million people who have been infected and 25,000 have died. And it is not just old people or those with pre-existing conditions getting sick! This week, 41 year old Congressman elect Luke Letlow from Louisiana passed away from a COVID infection.

There was so much else in the news but let me just mention a few things in brief. Yes, the more contagious mutant COVID-19 virus, which was first picked up in the UK, has been diagnosed in Canada, two days ago in Colorado and yesterday, in Southern California – all in patients with no travel history or exposure to travelers. This strain is more contagious but apparently no more deadly, and thankfully, also susceptible to the existing vaccines.

A new vaccine, less expensive to manufacture and more stable, manufactured by the Oxford University group and AstraZeneca, has been found to be effective, safe and has been approved for use in the United Kingdom.

Allergic side effects have been noted in a few patients with the Moderna vaccine. These are all of an allergic nature and responded to antihistamines and steroids. One case was reported in a patient with sea food allergies and the others occurred in patients who had previously received facial filler injections, leading to temporary swelling of previously injected sites.

Social distancing and wearing masks helps and is a small step we can all take. But what will stop this pandemic is the mass immunization program that is now in place. Vaccination centers have been set up to strict CDC guidelines and are beginning to vaccinate people nationwide! In Worcester, MA the University of Massachusetts, St. Vincent’s Hospital and Steward Health Care are all ramping up vast immunization programs. Four Hospitals in Orange County have been designated vaccination centers. And I am proud to say, thanks to the hard work of our anesthesiologist, Dr. Becker, our Orange County Surgery Center has been designated as the first non-hospital, vaccination center in Orange County. The first doses arrived yesterday Yes, we all want the vaccine – but before you ask us to put you on the list, note that strict CDC guidelines, which are similar in MA and CA, guide injection policy. In general, the CDC has begun with three categories as follows:

  • 1A Healthcare workers and staff/residents of long-term care facilities
  • 1B Front line essential workers (1st responders, firefighters, policemen, teachers, food industry workers, transportation industry workers, etc)
  • 1C Patients aged 65-74 and patients aged 16-64 with high risk medical conditions.

The Orange County Health Department has given us even stricter guidelines to follow. Our group 1A patients have to be physicians, nurses, scrub techs, etc and does not even allow us to inject our office staff until the next group! But yes, Dr. Ekstrom and I are lucky enough to be included in this first group!

On a lighter note, 2020 was also the 100th anniversary of the failed social experiment called Prohibition. The 18th Amendment came into effect in January 1920, banning the “manufacture, sale or transportation of intoxicating liquors”. This Amendment did nothing to diminish the amount of alcohol consumed – it just enhanced the illegal manufacture and distribution of alcohol and made a lot of people rich instead of the Treasury. We were so busy with COVID-19 news this year that this story got barely a mention. And so it should be,

Dr. Bunkis getting temperature taken

Dr. Bunkis getting temperature taken.

Don't give up now - let us stay vigilant to the end!

To your health and well-being. Stay healthy! Stay happy and persevere!

Keep wearing your masks in public, social distancing, continue to wash your hands frequently, all of you get tested before getting together with friends and family, get vaccinated when you get the opportunity, be safe, be happy, be healthy and prosper!

Enjoy your families! And have a Happy New Year!

Be grateful for what you have now and for what is on the horizon.

If you need Dr. Ekstrom or I, please call 949-888-9700 or visit our websites at:


Or call 508-755-4911

You can respond in the comment section below or write to me at bunkis@ocps.com

Thanks for staying in touch and for your feedback!