How to Keep Your Child Safe from Covid-19

February 23, 2022

Stories seem to appear daily about the latest surge in COVID-19 cases. The numbers are trending down in the United States along with deaths and hospitalizations. But COVID will persist if people remain unvaccinated.

One group that is vaccinated at a much lower rate than the general public is children. While more than 81% of Californians have at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, less than 36% of children 5 to 11 in the state have at least one dose. Less than 24% have been fully vaccinated compared to 70% of all California residents.

The omicron variant and any that may follow put the unvaccinated at greater risk of hospitalizations, long-lasting complications, or even death.

Kids Covid

Vaccine Eligibility

Everyone over the age of 18 has been eligible for more than a year to get full dosages of the Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna, and J&J/Janssen vaccines, as well as boosters of the Pfizer and Moderna. Children ages 12 to 17 became eligible in the spring to get two doses and a booster of the Pfizer vaccine. Children ages 5 to 11 can get both doses of Pfizer, but a booster dose has yet to be approved.

There are approximately 28 million children between the ages of 5 and 11 in the U.S., and there have been nearly 2 million cases of COVID-19 in this age group, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. This can lead to hospitalization for kids and in some situations, complications can lead to death.

More than 800 children have died from COVID-19 during the two years of the pandemic. That’s four times more than the 200 children who died from the flu during that same period. COVID-19 ranks as one of the top 10 causes of death in children 5 to 11.

COVID-19 has also led to a new, potentially deadly condition.

Mother takes care of Girl

Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome in Children (MIS-C)

This is a condition where different body parts — brain, eyes, heart, kidneys, lungs, gastrointestinal organs, skin — become inflamed. Doctors don’t know what causes it. However, most children with MIS-C either had COVID-19 or have been around someone with COVID-19.

Symptoms include at least two of the following:

  • Fever lasting 24 hours or longer
  • Diarrhea
  • Enlarged lymph nodes
  • Fast heartbeat
  • Feeling unusually tired
  • Headache or dizziness
  • Rapid breathing/li>
  • Red eyes
  • Skin rash
  • Stomach pain
  • Swelling or redness of the hands or feet
  • Swelling or redness of the lips and tongue

Parents need to take their children to the emergency room if their children:

  • Are confused
  • Can’t wake up or stay awake
  • Have difficulty breathing
  • Have pale, gray, or blue skin, lips, or nail beds
  • Have severe stomach pains

According to the CDC, COVID-19 vaccination protects 12 to 18-year-olds against MIS-C. The likelihood of contracting the condition were decreased by 91% in people that were vaccinated. Of those who were hospitalized with MIS-C, 95% were unvaccinated. The few vaccinated patients who were hospitalized did not need life support equipment.

Child vaccine doctor

Disparity Among the Vaccinated

COVID-19 has hit poor, minority populations the hardest due to working in service sector jobs deemed “essential” and jobs that can’t be done from home. Vaccination rates in those communities is also lower, for everyone, including children.

Only 21% of children in California’s poorest neighborhoods are vaccinated against COVID-19 compared to 64% in the wealthiest neighborhoods. This is often due to a lack of transportation limiting the ability to make it to vaccination events. Some don’t realize the vaccinations are free, or they think they must have insurance to get vaccinated. They also may not have access to the same information sources to learn about vaccination events.

We Are Your Source for Vaccine Info

Rely on AltaMed as a trusted source for information about the COVID-19 vaccines. We have a site with information on testing, vaccine safety, facts, and frequently asked questions. We can even schedule an appointment for a free vaccination for you or any member of your family, including children over 5.

Call (888) 499-9303 to schedule your appointment today.

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Stay on Guard as New Variant Cases Rise

January 06, 2022

Millions of residents in Los Angeles and Orange Counties have gotten at least one dose of a vaccine against COVID-19.

Having at least one dose of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines provides limited protection, but fully vaccinated individuals, especially those who have received the booster shot, are more protected from the Delta and the Omicron variants. Research about the level of protection that vaccines provide against the Omicron is underway. However, current vaccines can protect you against severe illness, hospitalizations, and deaths due to infection with the Omicron variant.

The alarming number of new infections from the Delta and Omicron variants have prompted the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health to require individuals to wear a mask indoors to stay protected. Now is not the time for communities to lower their guard as the fight to stop the spread of COVID-19 continues.

Scientist With Microscope

What is a variant?

Viruses are always mutating. Think about the flu virus. There is a different strain to fight each year because it is constantly changing.

The same is happening with the virus that causes COVID-19.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is currently tracking five variants in the United States:

  • Alpha — This was first discovered in the United Kingdom. It was detected in the U.S. in December 2020.
  • Beta — This first appeared in South Africa in December. It appeared in the U.S. in January 2021.
  • Gamma — This was discovered in Japan in early January, carried by travelers from Brazil. It showed up in the U.S. later that month.
  • Delta — This was identified in India in December of last year. The first U.S. case appeared in March 2021.
  • Omicron — This new variant was first detected in specimens collected on November 2021 in Botswana and South Africa. The first confirmed U.S. case of Omicron was identified on December 1, 2021.

These variants are the most contagious and, left unchecked, can put a remarkable strain on the health care system which may ultimately lead to more deaths.

Woman With Band Aid

Stopping the spread

No matter how much we would like to, we can’t go back to how our lives were before the pandemic yet. The Delta and Omicron variants have the potential to spark new outbreaks across the United States and around the word.

  • Get vaccinated Vaccines, especially if you get the booster shot, are the fastest and most effective way to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
  • Give vaccines time to work — It takes about two weeks for your immune system to be protected.
  • Use caution in group gatherings — The safest social gatherings are those where all participants have been fully vaccinated.
  • Masks protect against new strains — The coronavirus needs new hosts in order to mutate. Masks help prevent infections and therefore lower the risk of new variants developing.

People Group Talking

Don’t ease up

For now, if you have been fully vaccinated:

  • You still need to follow local and state safety guidelines.
  • Wear a face mask when indoors or in crowds to protect yourself and 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.orgor call our vaccine hotline at (888) 909-5232. Find a vaccine event happening in your community here.

Superior Safety: Why Experts Are Recommending N95 Masks

February 10, 2022

Wearing a mask has been an important part of the fight against the spread of COVID-19 since the earliest days of the pandemic.

Wearing a mask that fits properly over the nose and mouth, combined with frequent hand washing, avoiding crowds, and maintaining at least six feet of distance from others, have been part of public health canon.

Recommendations have evolved, however, just as the virus that causes COVID has evolved. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is now recommending special filtering masks or respirators called N95s to help protect people against the spread of the omicron variant.

mask

Why the change?

There is a much greater understanding of how the virus is spread and shared air is the biggest culprit. Cloth masks, which were encouraged early on, were OK for filtering large droplets. The N95s can filter both large droplets and the smaller particles that can be filled with airborne virus. There are also more N95s available now. Any well-fitting mask, however, is better than no mask.

What’s the Difference Between the N95 and KN95?

The differences are minor.

The N95 is the American standard and the KN95 is the Chinese standard. Both are rated to capture 95% of particles. One difference is the fit. The N95 must pass a test on how well it fits on the face for effective filtering. The KN95 standard does not require a fit test.

The N95s, however, are slightly easier to breathe through than the KN95s.

 

mask

Beware of Fakes

Whenever there are crises, there will be people who try to take advantage. In this case, there are those who have tried to pass off fake N95 and KN95 masks. The National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) has a list of approved respirators. It also has tips on how to spot fakes.

  • Real N95 respirators should have head straps, not ear loops.
  • There should be an easy-to-spot brand name
  • They each have a model number
  • N95 masks also have approval numbers that start with “TC-84A-”
  • The NIOSH name or logo should be visible for N95 masks
  • There should also be a filter class — N, P or R.

mask

Are They Reusable?

Health care staff won’t reuse them because of concerns for cross contamination. But for normal, everyday use, it’s fine to reuse an N95. There are some things you can do to make each mask last as long as a week.

  • Handle by the edges or straps when putting it on.
  • Don’t rub it or poke holes in it.
  • Don’t reuse a mask if you know you were near someone who was infected with COVID-19.
  • Don’t reuse it if it gets damp, creased, covered in makeup, or visibly dirty.
  • Don’t reuse it if it gets damaged or is difficult to breathe through.
  • Don’t reuse your mask more than 5 times as the straps can lose their tight fit.
  • You can “clean” your mask by leaving it in the sunlight to help particles die off.
  • Do NOT put them in the microwave or artificially heat them to speed up the process.
  • Do NOT wash them as it degrades their ability to filter particles

Where to get N95 Masks

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services is distributing masks to pharmacies around the country to hand out to people in the community. The distribution will expand as more masks become available.

Get Vaccinated

The best way to protect yourselves and the community against the spread of COVID is to get a vaccine. Get the complete series of shots if you’ve only had one and get a booster if you’ve had a full dose. Please visit AltaMed.org or call the vaccine hotline at (888) 909-5232 for more information about the vaccine or testing.