Don’t Risk Your Child’s Health: Bring Them in for Safe, Effective Immunizations

June 19, 2020

You may have concerns about how safe it is to visit an AltaMed location now, and we want to assure you that we have taken significant steps to keep everyone safe during routine visits.

Unfortunately, many people have stayed away from the doctor, which means their children have not received the recommended immunizations. If your child isn’t up-to-date on their vaccines, they could be at risk – which puts all of us at risk. Vaccines are one of the safest and most effective ways to protect your child’s health, and you can only get them in-person. Call us today at (888) 499-9303 to schedule your child’s vaccinations.

 
Why Should I Vaccinate My Child?

Getting your child vaccinated between birth and six years of age protects them from 14 deadly diseases, including measles, mumps, and polio. Vaccinating your child also helps protect your friends, family, and neighbors who cannot get vaccinated themselves because they are too young or have certain health problems. 

Children are most vulnerable when they are born, and they depend on you to make the right choices to protect them. It is critical to stick to the vaccination schedule provided by your child’s doctor. No matter the age, preventing dangerous diseases outweighs any possible side effects such as slight pain, swelling, or low-grade fever that your child may experience. Take the proper action to build your child’s immune system during their critical developmental stages. 

 

How Safe Are Vaccinations?

Section 1The short answer is very. 

Modern childhood vaccinations have been around for about 60 years. They were developed to stop the spread of infectious diseases that once killed thousands of people each year. 

Vaccines are constantly re-evaluated and studied by scientists and researchers. Serious reactions to vaccines are rare, occurring only once in every million doses. According to the Centers for Disease Control’s (CDC) Immunization Safety Office, the current vaccine supply in the United States is the safest in history.


Are There Rules or Laws About Vaccines?

The State of California requires all children attending public or private school to receive the doctor-recommended immunizations for vaccine-preventable diseases. This mandatory vaccination helps keep overall immunity levels high and protects the community members, including other schoolchildren, who cannot receive vaccinations.

 

Vaccinating Babies & Children

Section 2

The recommended immunization schedule that promotes immunity for infants and children begins at birth and carries through to age six. There are 10 vaccines for babies and children for 14 diseases. Although babies are typically born with strong immune systems—and also receive some protection from their mothers through the transmission of antibodies during breastfeeding—they still need help fighting bacteria, germs, and viruses. 

Even the most cautious parent cannot stop a child from being exposed to disease 100% of the time. Whether it’s from unvaccinated friends, neighbors, or family, or from public places (day care, the grocery store, the park), unvaccinated children under the age of five are at risk of getting sick from a disease.

 

Vaccinating Adolescent Children

Section 3

The CDC recommends four vaccines for almost all children ages 11-12: meningococcal, human papilloma virus (HPV), the collective Tdap (tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis), and influenza (the flu). Meningococcal diseases are rare but are spread by sharing food and drinks or kissing. HPV is a sexually transmitted disease that can cause genital warts, and is associated with cervical cancer in women, and other types of cancers in both men and women. 

The Tdap vaccine is a booster for the children’s DTaP vaccine, necessary for older children because the effectiveness of the first vaccine wears off over time. Doctors recommend that all children six months and older receive the flu vaccine every year because the flu virus changes each year.


What About a Covid-19 Vaccination?

Right now, we don’t have a vaccine to prevent Covid-19. Scientists around the world are working very hard to develop one. There is hope that one could be available by the end of 2020 or the beginning of 2021. We will keep you informed of when it becomes available, but for now, do everything you can to stay informed, protect your lungs, and stay safe if you must go out in public.

 

Free Vaccinations at AltaMed

Section 4

We encourage you to follow the immunizations schedule into adolescence, so your children are protected during every stage of their life. Here at AltaMed, all the vaccinations the CDC recommends are available free of cost! We provide childhood, adolescent, and HPV immunizations for patients 0-17 years of age. 

Again, we want to assure you how safe it is to bring your entire family to AltaMed for routine health visits. It’s more important than ever to stay safe and healthy. Call us at (888) 499-9303 to schedule an appointment with your provider to stay on track of your child’s immunization timeline. 

 

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Follow-up Visits for Your Newborn During a Pandemic

April 29, 2020

We know you’re doing everything you can to protect your newborn baby from COVID-19. However, it is vitally important that you bring your baby for in-person, follow-up visits with a pediatrician. Telephone visits are not an appropriate substitute for in-person, follow-up care. 

As recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics, regular, in-person visits, starting at 48 hours after their release from the hospital, are crucial for your baby’s health. Your doctor needs to be able to monitor your baby’s progress, which includes checking:

⦁    Weight and length
⦁    Reflexes
⦁    How well the baby is feeding
⦁    Sleep patterns
⦁    If they’re peeing and pooping like they should

These checkups can help your doctor identify any problems early – which could be the difference between life and death.

These visits are also your chance to learn more about your baby and how to be a good parent. Bring your questions to your doctor – no question is too small.


Follow Your Doctor’s Instructions

Newboin visit

Your doctor’s office will explain the purpose of every visit and can even help you schedule these visits ahead of time. Make it a priority to keep every single appointment.

It’s even more important than ever that your baby receives the right immunizations at the right time, and your doctor will advise you on this. For older children, we offer drive-up immunization clinics at some of our locations. Call us at (888) 499-9303 to learn more.
 

COVID-19, Flu, Allergies or a Cold? A Helpful Guide to Knowing the Difference

March 17, 2020

In Southern California, flu season seems to last longer and longer each year. Thanks to drier winters and less rain, allergy season starts earlier every year. And at the moment, our nation is justifiably worried about COVID-19, commonly referred to as coronavirus.

If you’ve got a sniffly nose, a sore throat, and a fever, you may not be 100% sure what you have. We’re here with information that will hopefully put your worries at ease, and help you determine what kind of care you need.

 

Are Coronavirus and COVID-19 the Same?

Coronavirus

Not exactly. Coronavirus refers to a large family of viruses. Some of these viruses make people sick with the common cold. COVID-19 is the name of the disease we’ve all heard about. The type of coronavirus that causes COVID-19 is so new, we still don’t know very much about it.

 

COVID-19 vs. the Flu (influenza)

When we started to learn about COVID-19, many people compared it to influenza, most commonly known as the flu, in terms of symptoms and how it spreads. Both are infectious respiratory illnesses, but they’re caused by entirely different viruses.

Symptoms in common: Both illnesses cause fever, cough, shortness of breath, difficulty breathing, body aches, fatigue, and even vomiting or diarrhea. Symptoms can be mild or severe and turn into pneumonia. Both can be fatal.

It may be possible for a sick person to have symptoms so mild, they don’t realize they have the disease, and so they may walk around spreading the virus to healthy people.

How the diseases spread: Both can be spread from person to person from the droplets that come from sneezing, coughing or even talking.

AND: Experts believe that COVID-19 is powerful enough to live on surfaces long after the infected person is no longer present.

Be proactive: Vaccinations are highly effective at preventing the flu. That’s why we strongly recommend everyone in your family get their shots every year.

Unfortunately, there still isn’t a vaccine for COVID-19 yet. Your best bet for preventing it is proper handwashing, staying home if you’re sick, and social isolation.

Treatment: Because both diseases are caused by a virus, antibiotics won’t do any good. Instead, doctors aim to treat symptoms, such as reducing fever and suppressing a cough. However, both can be serious and require hospitalization.

 

Coronavirus vs. Allergies

Allergy symptoms are usually quite different from COVID-19 symptoms. Unlike COVID-19, which is a virus, allergies are your immune system’s response to a foreign substance.

Symptoms: Allergy symptoms include itchy or runny nose, rashes or itchy skin, and watery eyes. In extreme cases of anaphylactic shock, your air passage shuts down, and it rapidly becomes difficult to breathe. Difficulty breathing is also a symptom of COVID-19, but with allergies, the onset is almost immediately after encountering a specific trigger.

Transmission: Allergies aren’t contagious like a cold or flu, so there’s no chance of spreading it from one person to the next. Allergies do have a genetic component, which is why it may seem like other people in your family have them at the same time you do.

Prevention: Unless you do allergy testing and shots, your best method for preventing allergic reactions is to keep an allergy diary and then stay away from your triggers.

Treatment: You can usually treat allergy symptoms with common, over-the-counter remedies, such as antihistamines, decongestants, and medicated lotions to help relieve itchy rashes and hives.

 

COVID-19 vs. the Common Cold

Mild cases of COVID-19 may be mistaken for a cold.

Symptoms in common: Because many of the symptoms are the same, it can be tough to tell the difference. Experts say that if your first symptoms included a sore throat and runny nose, it’s likely just a cold. A fever could be a sign that it’s something more than a cold.

Prevention: The common cold is famously difficult to prevent. But following the same protocol for COVID-19 should help protect you.

Treatment: There’s not much you can do for a cold, other than treating the symptoms. Time-tested advice includes getting plenty of rest, staying hydrated, using a humidifier, and taking age-appropriate over-the-counter remedies.

 

When Should I Go to the Doctor?

uncomfortable throat

First off, the good news is that about 80% of COVID-19 cases resolve quickly on their own when the person stays home, gets rest, and treats the symptoms.

Unless your symptoms get dramatically worse or you feel short of breath, you may not need to seek treatment (though it's OK to call your doctor and ask). AltaMed is advising our patients to treat mild symptoms just like you would treat a cold by staying home, taking over-the-counter cold treatments like Tylenol or Nyquil. Avoid other people until your symptoms go away for at least 72 hours without having to take these medications.

 

If you have been diagnosed with COVID-19, please confirm with your doctor the timing of when you are no longer contagious.

To learn more about COVID-19 precautions, treatments, and news, bookmark our Coronavirus resource page. And for the time being, AltaMed is waiving the cost-sharing and co-pays for medically necessary screening and testing for COVID-19.