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.

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Spotting the Difference Between Flu and COVID-19 in Kids

December 03, 2020

Before news broke of two potential vaccines, most of what we heard about COVID-19 was bad. The only bright spot is that young children are less likely to get infected from the virus. They can still catch it and spread it, but at a greatly reduced rate. 

Because kids are still susceptible, parents and caregivers need to stay vigilant whenever children start to show signs of illness. Runny noses, sore throats, coughs, and fever are common symptoms with colds, flu, and COVID-19 so it’s important to be able to spot the differences.

The flu can still be a deadly threat, particularly in the age of COVID-19. A compromised immune system resulting from a cold or the flu can increase the chances of contracting COVID-19 for kids and adults. While younger children have shown greater resilience to the SARS-CoV-2 virus, they are much more susceptible to colds and flu. 

What to Look For?

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There are some general symptoms shared with cold, flu and COVID-19 you should be aware of. Higher-risk symptoms should lead you to have your child tested for COVID-19.

The general symptoms include:

  • Fever over 100.4oF
  • Sore throat
  • Congestion or runny nose
  • Headache
  • Nausea, vomiting, diarrhea
  • Fatigue, muscle, or body aches

Red-flag symptoms include:

  • Coughing
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Loss of taste or smell

Loss of taste or smell is more often a symptom of COVID-19. Difficulty breathing is a more serious symptom, though it is associated with other illnesses. Coughing, which could be a symptom of multiple illnesses, increases the risk of passing the disease to others.

What to Do?

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Children experiencing just one of the general symptoms should be monitored and kept away from others. They can return to regular activities once they have been symptom-free for 24 hours without  taking fever-reducing medication.

Children experiencing two or more general symptoms, or one red-flag symptom, should be seen by a health care provider. Your provider will tell you whether or not a COVID-19 test is necessary. If no test is needed,, the child can return to regular activities once symptoms improve and they have been symptom-free for 24 hours. If a test is needed, and the result is negative, the same rules apply.

If the test is positive, or they do not see a doctor to receive a test, they must be monitored for 10 days and CANNOT return to regular activities until after that period and they have gone 24 hours without a fever. 

If your child has been in contact with anyone who has COVID-19, then your child MUST quarantine and see a health care provider. They can only return to regular activities after 14 days from last contact with the infected person. If they start showing symptoms, they must get a COVID-19 test.

What’s Happening Now?

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While there has been positive news about effective COVID-19 vaccines, they may not be available to the general public for six months or longer. It is important to remain vigilant to protect everyone in your family.

Have frank conversations with your children, not only about the physical effects of COVID-19, but about any sadness or anxiety they may be experiencing as a result of schools being closed and their routines being disrupted. Find out what they know, let them guide the conversation, and make sure you’re honest about what’s happening and how they can protect themselves.

We’re Here for You

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AltaMed has reliable resources about coronavirus and can help you separate fact from fiction. We also provide testing and information on how to care for patients at home, and instructions on how to quarantine at home. For more information or to schedule a COVID-19 test, call (888) 499-9303.

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.