Don’t Lower Your Guard Against COVID, Even After Receiving the Vaccine

February 09, 2021

If you are one of the Los Angeles and Orange County residents who has received one of the three approved COVID-19 vaccines, you are not in the clear to resume life as usual just yet. While the vaccine provides much needed relief in the fight against coronavirus, these are some of the key reasons why we must remain vigilant against COVID-19:

  • No vaccine is 100% effective — One in 20 people can still get COVID-19 after the vaccine.
  • Vaccines don’t work instantly — It takes about two weeks for your immune system to be protected.
  • You can still spread the virus — Most vaccines prevent you from becoming sick but not from passing the virus to others if you become infected.
  • Masks protect others — People with other diseases are at a higher risk of becoming very ill if they get COVID-19.
  • Masks protect against new strains — Some are more contagious.

Waiting in Line

Remember, if you received the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna vaccine, two doses are required for your immune system to create enough antibodies to give you a greater than 95% chance of fighting off the virus. It is also important to complete your vaccine doses as close to the recommended interval as possible. According to the CDC, you have to wait at least 21 days before getting the second dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine and 28 days before getting the second dose of the Moderna vaccine. If you receive the second dose too soon, you won’t get the 95% protection rate. 

Only one dose is required of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. Remember, you are considered fully vaccinated two weeks after you’ve received any one of the three vaccines. 

What Has Changed For Those Who Are Fully Vaccinated? 

  • You can gather indoors with fully vaccinated people without wearing a mask.
  • You can gather indoors with unvaccinated people from one other household (for example, visiting with relatives who all live together) without masks, unless any of those people or anyone they live with has an increased risk for severe illness from COVID-19
  • If you have been around someone who has COVID-19, you do not need to stay away from others or get tested unless you have symptoms. 
  • However, if you live in a group setting and are around someone who has COVID-19, you should still stay away from others for 14 days and get tested, even if you don’t have symptoms.

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What Has Not Changed?

For now, if you have been fully vaccinated:

  • You will still need to follow the following guidelines for businesses.
  • Wear your masks — Face masks to protect others.
  • Maintain hand hygiene — Use hand sanitizer to clean hands frequently, and wash hands for 20 seconds at a time. 
  • Practice physical distancing — Stay six feet apart from others whether inside or outside. 
  • Wipe down any surfaces you touch. 

For more information about the vaccine or testing, please visit AltaMed.org or call our vaccine hotline at (888) 909-5232.

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Staying Safe from COVID-19 Means Staying Apart and Staying at Home

January 08, 2021

Although the statewide mandatory stay-at-home orders have been lifted as the spike in coronavirus cases from the holidays begins to slowly decline, we must not lower our guard.

To protect yourself, continue to wear your mask, wash your hands, and avoid contact with anyone not in your household. Crowds and gatherings of any size can be dangerous, especially since the dip in coronavirus cases statewide and the rollout of the vaccine, may give some people a false sense of security and cause them to be more careless. Remember, the facts have not changed. The more people you come in contact with, the more likely you are to be exposed. Don’t risk your health or the health of friends or loved ones to watch sports, attend a birthday party, or any other gathering.

Even though many of us are missing our friends, relatives, and the lives we used to have, now is not the time to get careless. A vaccine has been approved, but until it can be rolled out to everyone in the United States, we’ve all got to do our part to stop the spread and save lives.

The Best Thing You Can Do Is Stay Home as Much as Possible

Just because the malls, shopping centers, airports, beaches, and grocery stores are open doesn’t mean they’re 100% safe. Your family’s best bet is to stay at home as much as possible.

  • Limit contact — Use curbside pickup, delivery, or drive-thru services to pick up groceries or prescriptions to avoid face-to-face contact.
  • Be social safely — Use video chat, social media, or the telephone to stay connected with friends or family.
  • Follow us for the latest updates – Because of the recent surge in cases of COVID-19, things have changed rapidly, and rules about what’s open and what’s closed can vary from place to place. It’s confusing to many people, but you’re not alone. Bookmark this blog to stay updated on the latest news and developments.

Outside the Home

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Sometimes it’s impossible to stay away from people you don’t know. You may need groceries, medications, or have some other important reason to go out. Make sure to wear a mask, practice social distancing, and follow local guidelines when heading out. Consider the following:

  • Transportation — If you do need to take public transit, sit far away from others. Sit in the back seat of a rideshare to stay as far from the driver as possible.
  • Make a plan to avoid crowds —If you need to go grocery shopping or run an errand, call the business to learn what time of day it’s least crowded. When you go, take a list so you can get in, get what you need, and get out as quickly as possible.
  • Stay distanced while activeGet out for some exercise whenever you can. Just make sure to take a mask with you in case you encounter other people. Otherwise, maintain at least six feet between yourself and others.

Keep Your Distance

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When you absolutely must go out in public, keep a safe amount of space between yourself and those not from your household. Six feet is the distance recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to reduce the risk of community spread.

When people are close to each other, a cough or sneeze can send droplets from one person into the mouths or noses of people around them. It’s gross, and it’s how COVID-19 spreads. It takes a few days for symptoms to appear, so even people who aren’t showing signs of infection can spread the disease. Gathering in a group only makes things worse.

Physical distancing alone isn’t enough to stop the spread of COVID-19.

Additional steps should include:

  • Wearing a mask over your mouth and nose
  • Not touching your face with dirty hands
  • Frequently washing your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds

We’re Here for You

Image 3AltaMed can provide information to you and your family about the best way to protect yourself and your family from COVID-19. To receive the latest news and information about the coronavirus pandemic, sign up today.

What You Need to Know About the COVID-19 Vaccine

December 17, 2020

As part of the first phase of the COVID-19 vaccine distribution, health care workers and people at the highest risk of complications from the disease will begin receiving the vaccine. This is due to an incredible effort by pharmaceutical companies and the Food and Drug Administration to ensure the vaccine is safe and effective in protecting adults against COVID-19. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is working closely with state and local health departments and other partners to develop plans to get the vaccine out. Other vaccines are in the approval process, so there is not just one COVID-19 vaccine.

What was the COVID-19 vaccine approval process?

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Many thousands of patients were given the COVID-19 vaccine in clinical trials. These trials are closely monitored research programs conducted with volunteers to see if a new drug or medical treatment is effective. The FDA approved the current vaccines because the research findings in the COVID-19 vaccine trials were proven to have minimal side effects and be highly effective in preventing COVID-19 in adults.

Is the COVID-19 vaccine safe?

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Vaccines approved by the FDA have been tested in more than 40 thousand volunteers. Side-effects were very mild and similar to the flu vaccine. The FDA is working with the health care community to monitor closely the reaction of those who have been vaccinated. With the information that we have currently, the vaccines have been evaluated as safe and can start protecting us and our community against COVID-19.

When can I get the COVID-19 vaccine?

Currently there is a limited supply available of the vaccines, and the first doses will go to health care workers and those with the most vulnerable immune systems. It will then be rolled out to different portions of the population in a fair, ethical, and transparent way. AltaMed is working closely with state and local health officials to ensure our patients have access to the vaccines as soon as possible.

How many shots will I need for the COVID-19 vaccine?

Most COVID-19 vaccines available in the first phase require a “booster” shot, or second shot, to get the entire benefit.

How much will it cost?

We don’t anticipate our AltaMed patients will need to pay for the vaccine. Administration of the vaccine may be charged to your health plan.

Where do I go to get the vaccine?

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Once the vaccine is more widely available, AltaMed will offer the vaccine to those who meet the priority criteria during each phase of the distribution process.

Will the vaccines give you COVID-19?

None of the COVID-19 vaccines currently in development in the United States use the live virus that causes COVID-19. Any response to the vaccine is a sign that the body is building immunity and learning how to fight the virus. It typically takes a few weeks for the body to build immunity after vaccination, so it is possible that a person who was recently immunized could still get sick with COVID-19.

Do I need to get vaccinated if I have already had COVID-19?

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Re-infection with COVID-19 is possible, so people may be advised to get vaccinated even if they have been sick with COVID-19 before.
The immunity someone gains from having an infection, called natural immunity, varies from person to person. Some early evidence suggests natural immunity may not last very long.
We won’t know how long immunity produced by vaccination lasts until we have more data on how well it works.

How soon after getting vaccinated can I stop wearing a mask and staying physically distant?

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There is not enough information currently available to say if or when CDC will stop recommending that people wear masks and avoid close contact with others to help prevent the spread of the virus that causes COVID-19. Experts need to understand more about the protection that COVID-19 vaccines provide before making that decision.

AltaMed is Here for You

AltaMed doctors recommend getting the vaccine as soon as it becomes available to protect you and your family from getting sick. Getting vaccinated is one of many steps you can take to protect yourself and others from COVID-19. Protection from COVID-19 is critically important because for many people, it can cause severe illness or death.

Stopping a pandemic requires using all the tools available. Vaccines work with your immune system so your body will be ready to fight the virus if you are exposed.

Even after there has been widespread vaccination, for a while longer, we’ll still need to:

  • Wear a face covering
  • Wash our hands frequently
  • Maintain physical distance

As the situation changes, AltaMed will keep you informed.

AltaMed can provide information to you and your family about the best way to protect yourself and your family from COVID-19. To receive the latest news and information about the coronavirus pandemic, sign up today.