Don’t Wait for Flu Season to Get Your Flu Shot

October 01, 2020

This year, it’s more important than ever that you protect yourself and your family from the flu, which can be serious and even deadly. Health care providers like AltaMed and other public health agencies are trying to prevent a twindemic: cases of the flu and COVID-19 spiking at the same time, which could put a strain on hospitals and result in many more people being sick.

We’ve compiled a list of Frequently Asked Questions to help you learn more about why you and your entire family need to get your shots.

I’m Usually Healthy! Do I Need to Get a Vaccine?

All the vitamin supplements in the world won’t protect you from the flu. Why risk four to six days of high fever, sore throat, body aches, and other symptoms that will limit your ability to go to work or attend school? If you do get the flu even after receiving the vaccine, the shot can help you avoid more severe complications such as pneumonia, ear infections, or sinusitis.

It’s also critical for those in regular contact with children under the age of 6 months and those with chronic illness to get vaccinated to reduce the household's risk of illness.

Won’t Getting a Flu Shot Make Me Sick?

Section 1The vaccine does not infect a person with influenza. The vaccine works by helping your body’s immune system recognize the virus so that it can create a defense (antibodies) that will fight the flu.

If I Have a Cold, Can I Still Get a Flu Shot?

A cold can’t stop you from getting your flu shot! However, your primary care provider won’t give you the vaccine if you have a high fever and are experiencing respiratory symptoms. Your immune system won’t be strong enough to create the antibodies it needs to protect you against the flu.

Will the Flu Shot Protect Me from COVID-19?

The flu vaccine won’t protect you against colds, pneumonia, or COVID-19.

The flu is not a severe cold or pneumonia, even though symptoms can be similar – in fact, it can also be hard to tell the difference between COVID-19, allergies, and the flu.

When you ask your health care provider for a flu shot, you will get vaccine the protects you from the influenza virus.

I Saw a Facebook Post that Said that COVID-19 Germs Have Been Added to this Year’s Flu Vaccine. Is that True?

Absolutely not. This year’s flu vaccine contains only the inactivated strains of influenza that are expected to be most prevalent this flu season. It does not have the COVID‐19 virus. Be careful where you get your news about COVID-19 and the flu!

How Soon Should I Get My Flu Shot?

Section 2ASAP! The flu vaccine will not prevent COVID-19, but we are trying to prevent a large flu outbreak while we still don’t have the pandemic fully under control. Also, having the flu could weaken your respiratory system, which could put you at additional risk for COVID-19 – though, we want to be perfectly clear: the flu vaccine will not protect you from COVID-19.

You can make an appointment to get your flu shot at AltaMed. We have many procedures in place to keep staff and patients safe. There are also many other places to get your flu shot.

And here’s some good news: wearing a mask, practicing social distancing, and all of the other actions we’ve been taking to stop the spread of COVID_19 will help to keep you safe from the flu.

Is It Possible to Have the Flu and COVID-19 at the Same Time?

section 3Yes, it is. Even though we still don’t have a vaccine for COVID-19, you can get a safe, effective flu shot right now,

What about Side Effects from a Flu Shot?

The most common side effects are soreness around the injection area, redness, nausea, and muscle aches, which usually pass in a couple of days. Children may be scared of getting a shot, but it’s very important for them to receive their immunizations – one pinch and it’s done!

Why Does the Vaccine Change from Year to Year?

The vaccine changes every year because the virus changes every year. This makes it difficult for our body to detect the virus in time, and we end up getting sick. Thanks to technology and the study of viruses, scientists can try to predict what the virus will look like for the upcoming flu season.

Sometimes the virus changes too quickly and the rate of protection can be lower than expected. It has been proven year after year that the vaccine is a great tool to prevent complications and even reduce mortality rates in all age groups.

Get Your Free Shots at AltaMed!

Section 4Get vaccinated today against the virus at your nearest AltaMed medical center to protect yourself and your family. To schedule a flu shot, please call (888) 499-9303. See hours and locations for clinics near you.

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

March 15, 2021

Many families have stayed away from the doctor during the pandemic; however it is important for parents to schedule regular physical examinations and recommended immunizations. Parents, children, and teens can have peace of mind knowing AltaMed is taking necessary precautions in response to COVID-19 and is practicing safe protocols necessary to keep families safe during this time.

As Californians prepare to resume in person learning, it is time to start scheduling your child’s required vaccinations if they are not up to date. Vaccines are one of the safest and most effective ways to protect your child’s health, and you can only get them in-person. According to the CDC, if your child is age 12 and up, they can and should get the COVID-19 vaccine along with the other shots that are required for summer camp or school. 

Call us today at (888) 499-9303 to schedule your child’s vaccinations, well-child visit, or oral care examination.


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Make Routine Exams a Priority

Routine physical exams play an important part in helping doctors identify and monitor any abnormal changes in your child. For other patients who are seeing a new provider, this is a great opportunity for them to establish a relationship with their doctor and share their health history. 

Regular physical examinations are key opportunities to review new or previous family history with your physician that can affect your child’s development. Having open and thorough communication about this is a valuable way your doctor can assess risk factors and offer testing when necessary. 

Regular physical examinations are also needed to monitor that important health factors like height to weight ratios and BMI (body mass index) are appropriate for your child’s specific body and developmental health. This examination also opens up the dialogue between the physician and your child for counseling about diet and exercise, useful for all teens regardless of current weight or relationship to nutrition and exercise.

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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. These are important steps toward building your child’s immune system during their critical developmental stages.

Routine vaccinations are also needed during the adolescent years. 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.

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How Safe Are Vaccinations?

The 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 and Prevention’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.

What About a COVID-19 Vaccination?

COVID-19 vaccines are safe and effective. The CDC recommends the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine for persons 12 and older, and this includes simultaneous administration of COVID-19 vaccines and other vaccines on the same day, as well as co-administration within 14 days. 

COVID-19 vaccines have been used under the most intensive safety monitoring in U.S. history, which includes studies in adolescents. Remember, your child will need a second shot of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine 3 weeks after their first shot.

Free Vaccinations at AltaMed

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.

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.

Get the Most Out of Your Telehealth Visits During a Pandemic

May 08, 2020

As a way to keep our members safe and continue to meet their health needs, AltaMed now offers telephone and video visits. You’ll still get the same excellent quality of care and level of attention that you’re used to, all without leaving your house. And obviously, right now it’s the safest option for both you and your doctor.

You can find technical information to prepare for a telehealth visit here. This article focuses on how to prepare to have the most productive visit so your doctor can help you.

Telehealth Visits: What Are They?

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Using either a cell phone, landline, a tablet or a laptop, you can talk to an AltaMed doctor over the phone or through video. You can discuss the same kind of things you would at a regular doctor visit, including your symptoms and concerns. You may also be able to get an immediate diagnosis, learn about your treatment options, and even get a prescription if your doctor thinks it’s appropriate.

Conditions That Can Be Treated Over the Phone

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First things first: if you are experiencing a significant loss of blood, breathing problems, fainting or loss of consciousness, a broken bone, or a head or spinal injury, call 911 now! These problems require immediate attention. Check here if you’re not sure if it’s an emergency or not.

Telehealth visits are a good option for many routine health needs – the type of things you’d make an appointment to see your family doctor for, such as:

You can also use telehealth visits to help you manage chronic, or ongoing, conditions, such as:

Eligible patients may be able to have a phone appointment with a dietician or a screening with a dental specialist for dental emergencies.

Be Prepared to Talk About Your Health History

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Because your doctor isn’t able to do a hands-on examination, you should be prepared to give them as much information as you can and describe your symptoms. Your appointment may not be with your usual doctor, so you may need to help the doctor understand your health history. Be ready to tell your doctor about:

  • Prior or existing conditions (e.g., asthma, diabetes, depression, breast cancer)
  • Previous surgeries
  • If you’re taking prescription or over-the-counter medication
  • If you are currently under the care of another doctor

Make Sure You Can Give Information About Your Health Concern

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Your doctor can only help you if he understands your concerns. You can help!
Before your visit, write down information about your condition. Think about questions like:

  • Where is your pain or discomfort?
  • What is the pain like – sharp, stabbing, dull?
  • How long have you felt like this?
  • Can you trace your problem back to a certain event – for example, if you came in contact with an allergen, started feeling bad after you ate something, or lifted something heavy?
  • Are there times when it’s better or worse?
  • Have you taken any over-the-counter treatments? If so, what kind and for how long? Did they make you feel better?

Find a Quiet, Private Place to Take the Phone Call

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A provider will call you within one-hour of the appointment time or may call you sooner than the appointment time. You may only have a limited amount of time, so make the most of it by finding a spot at home where you can talk freely and without distractions.

Even though your doctor can’t examine you the way they would in an AltaMed facility, they will do their best to find out about your condition. Make sure to wear comfortable, loose-fitting clothing, in case they ask you to roll up a sleeve, turn to the side so they can watch you breathe, or give you other instructions.

You’ll be able to talk with a doctor who speaks your language, but it’s important that you understand what they’re saying. Our doctors want to help, so feel free to tell them, “I don’t really understand what you mean” or ask them to explain things more than once.

After the visit, you can get notes and a summary of the visit at your MyAltaMed patient portal, or if you have not registered for access to MyAltaMed, a paper copy will be mailed to you.

If you need a prescription medicine, we’ll make sure it’s sent over to the pharmacy of your choice.

Need Care? Call Us First!

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No matter what your health care needs, we’re here to make sure they get handled. Call our Patient Service Center at (888) 499-9303 and we’ll direct you to the right services.

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.