Stay Vigilant to Stop the Spread of COVID-19 During the Holidays

December 06, 2021

Our second holiday season with COVID-19 is right around the corner. Though we all hoped the pandemic would be over by now, at least this year we have vaccines and vaccination rates continue to climb.

Despite our progress, variants, like Delta and Omicron, along with misinformation and political battles over vaccination requirements, mean we still have a long way to go before we can declare the pandemic has ended. That’s why it’s important to stay cautious during the holidays to keep from spreading COVID-19 to vulnerable and unvaccinated family and community members.

Hug Holiday

Back to basics

It should be safer to spend time with loved ones this holiday season, especially if all parties have been vaccinated. Fully vaccinated people — those who received their complete vaccine series at least two weeks ago — should be able to resume normal activities, according to the CDC.

To provide additional protection against COVID-19, booster shots are now approved for fully-vaccinated individuals 18 years and older.

That includes traveling and gathering with family members who have also been vaccinated. It is important to continue to follow the basic precautions of properly wearing a mask, washing hands, and maintaining physical distance if traveling to an area of substantial or high transmission.

The best precaution to take is to limit gatherings to only those who have been vaccinated. Also, encourage family members to get the flu vaccine. The flu can be dangerous too and can weaken the immune system and make people more susceptible to COVID-19, even when vaccinated.

Dinner Holiday

Extra Steps

This year might be the first chance you’ve had to get everyone around the dinner table to celebrate a holiday meal. It still wouldn’t be a bad idea to spread people out if possible. Especially if not everyone has been vaccinated.

Eating outside and maintaining distance between guests can reduce the risk associated with a holiday dinner. Fully vaccinated people should be the only ones allowed to sit next to each other. Seating should be assigned to help keep everyone as safe as possible.

Keep the air flowing inside if you can’t get everyone outside. Point fans toward intake vents and open screened windows or doors to improve air flow.

Fire Holiday

If You’re Hosting

You may be tempted to “do it up big” this year, but keep in mind that young children are more vulnerable to the Delta variant of COVID-19. Until they have access to a vaccine, you may be exposing them to potential infection if you invite lots of people to your home.

  • Try to limit attendance to those who have been vaccinated.
  • Gather outside to limit the spread of the virus.
  • Don’t spend too much time in a confined space.
  • Wear a mask when not eating or drinking.
  • Try to maintain some distance or stay masked if not fully vaccinated.

Disposable plates and cups are still the way to go this holiday, so plates and utensils aren’t reused. Limit the number of people preparing dishes. Avoid setting up a buffet unless you know everyone has been fully vaccinated. You might have to eat in shifts so at least some people remain masked during the meal.

Vaccine Holiday

If You’re Traveling

Get vaccinated. Not just against COVID-19, but the flu as well. People packed onto planes to visit far-flung relatives or coming home from colleges out of state pose a tremendous health risk. It’s best to drive, if you’re traveling, though there is still the risk of encountering people in gas stations, at rest stops, and when picking up food. Still, the number of people you encounter will be much less than those in the confined space of an airport, on a plane, or in a bus or train station.

Don’t stay with family unless everyone is vaccinated. When booking a hotel or Airbnb, make sure you trust the sanitizing procedures. Don’t feel awkward calling to ask about their cleaning policies or to find out the last time someone occupied the space you reserved and how that space was cleaned.

Play It Safe

AltaMed can provide information to you about the best way to protect yourself and your family during the holidays from COVID-19. We have several resources that you can share with those you plan to gather with. Learn more by calling (888) 499-9303.

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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.

Here’s the Latest Guidance on COVID-19 Vaccine Boosters

April 06, 2022

The FDA has authorized third doses, booster shots, and second booster shots to help you and your family stay protected against the coronavirus. These shots are recommended to maximize protection against the virus and its variants. Now, you may be wondering what is the difference between a third dose, a booster shot, and a second booster shot?

What is a booster shot and who can get it?

If you are fully vaccinated and not immunocompromised, you may eligible for a booster shot. Fully vaccinated is defined as someone who has already received two doses of the Pfizer (Comirnaty) or Moderna (Spikevax) vaccine, or a single dose of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. For the Moderna (Spikevax) vaccine, a booster shot is different dosage than a third dose.

For those who received the Pfizer (Comirnaty) or the Moderna (Spikevax) vaccine, the following groups are eligible for a booster shot at five months or more after completing their initial series:

  • 12 years and over for Pfizer (Comirnaty) and 18 and over for Moderna (Spikevax)

For those who got the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, anyone who is 18 and older and who was vaccinated two or more months ago, can receive a booster shot.

Booster shots are most important for people that are 65 and over, those with immune compromising conditions and those that are overweight or have chronic health conditions as these people can suffer more serious COVID-19 disease if they have not gotten all their recommended vaccines including their booster shots.

What is a second booster shot and who can get it?

The CDC now recommends a second booster shot of either the Pfizer-BioNTech (Comirnaty) or Moderna (Spikevax) COVID-19 vaccines for the following groups:

  • Individuals aged 50 or older
  • Individuals aged 12 and over with moderate to severe immune comprise

The second booster will be available to eligible individuals beginning four months after their first booster. Public Health sites will administer second booster shots to those eligible starting Wednesday, March 30. More information is available here.

What is a third dose and who can get it?

If you received either the Pfizer (Comirnaty) or Moderna (Spikevax) vaccine and are immunocompromised, you need a third dose of the COVID-19 vaccine following your initial vaccine series. The third dose is to help people get the same level of protection (or immunity) as people who are not immunocompromised. After you get the third dose, you can get a booster when you are eligible.

  • You must have had the first two doses of the Pfizer (Comirnaty) or Moderna (Spikevax) vaccine
  • It has been 28 days since your last COVID-19 vaccine
  • You have one of the following conditions:
    • History of solid organ transplant
    • History of bone marrow or stem cell transplant
    • Current cancer or on chemotherapy
    • Untreated or uncontrolled HIV
    • Chronic steroid use for one month or more
    • Use of immune modulating therapies such as Rituximab
    • Kidney disease requiring dialysis
    • Presence of cirrhosis
    • Inherited or acquired immune deficiency syndromes (AIDS)

Vaccines

Stop the spread

Getting vaccinated remains the most important and effective step to ending the coronavirus pandemic. AltaMed has free vaccine events. You can also contact our vaccine hotline at (888) 909-5232 to schedule your booster COVID-19 shot.

In the meantime, regardless of your vaccination status:

  • You 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.
  • Wipe down any surfaces you touch.