Health and Wellness

A Fresh Look at COVID-19

With each day that passes, we learn more about COVID-19 and its variants, how well the vaccines are working, and the most effective ways to protect you and your family.

“The cold and flu season has begun, and the pandemic isn’t over,” says Lindsey McKeen, FNP, Chief Clinical Officer at Care Medical. “Symptoms across viral infections are similar, and it’s important to get your influenza and COVID vaccines, and follow precautions.”

With information related to the pandemic changing frequently, the CDC website is a great resource.  Consider the CDC website your current state guide to the key things you need to know to stay as safe as possible.

1. Get ready for a boost. The FDA has authorized the use of Pfizer, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson vaccine boosters to improve the efficacy of the original vaccination. Studies show are showing that months out from the vaccine rollout in the United States, the COVID-19 vaccine is still effective at preventing hospitalization.

There are a few things to know about getting a booster:

  • You might already be eligible. The CDC’s guidelines about who can receive a booster are relatively broad. If you received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine and are over 18, you’re approved for your booster. If you’re over 18 with an underlying medical condition or work in high-risk settings, you’re also approved, no matter the vaccine you received. Check in with the CDC's guidelines for additional guidance.
  • Mixing and matching. The FDA has authorized receiving a different booster than your original vaccine brand. If you got the Moderna vaccine, you may get a Pfizer booster, for instance. You can still stick to your original vaccine type if you want, but you can get a different type if it’s more convenient. Review the FDA's guidance for additional information.
  • You might need a third shot (rather than a booster). Some people tend to refer to these two interchangeably, but they are different. A third shot is an additional full dose that you can receive as little as 28 days following your second shot of Pfizer or Moderna. The CDC is recommending a third shot  for immunocompromised people for whom two shots may not be sufficient protection. A booster is more of a check-in with your immune system several months after your original vaccination, reminding it how to respond if the virus were to attack it. While the dosage for the Pfizer and Johnson & Johnson booster is the same as the original vaccine, the dosage for the Moderna booster is half.

2. Protection for your kids is here. CDC vaccine advisers unanimously voted to recommend the Pfizer-BioNTech pediatric vaccine in children ages 5-11 on Nov. 2.  This follows the late October FDA vote to extend the emergency use authorization to include this age group and trials for kids aged 2 - 4 are ongoing.

So far, trials have shown the vaccine to be safe and effective for use in kids, and could be critical in slowing the spread in settings like schools, and mitigating the risk of children contracting severe COVID-19. If you have any questions about your child receiving the vaccine, you can always chat with a your trusted healthcare provider further guidance.

3. Yes, you can get COVID-19 twice. Reinfection is relatively rare—it accounts for just 1% of cases—but it is possible. A second case typically happens more than 90 days after the first, once the protective antibodies wear off.

Second cases of COVID-19 may present completely different than they did the first time around and for those who are fully vaccinated, their symptoms are less severe than those who are unvaccinated. This is why it’s essential to get your vaccine even if you had COVID-19 before—a CDC study shows unvaccinated people who have recovered from a previous COVID-19 infection are more than twice as likely to become reinfected.

4. Delta and beyond variants will continue to occur. The bad news is that because of the nature of viruses and just a little over 50% of the world being vaccinated, variants of this virus will continue to spread. The Delta variant is a highly contagious one and still spreading; now the World Health Organization is keeping its eye on AY.4.2, a subvariant of Delta. But the good news is that the current vaccines available in the US are effective against the variants. Fully vaccinated people who contract the variants that we know about often experience milder symptoms, and contagious for a shorter time than unvaccinated people.

5. AGT: Always Get Tested. If you think you have any symptoms of COVID-19, get tested. Earlier in the pandemic, when tests weren’t as readily available and we didn’t know as much about how it spreads, clinicians sometimes advised people with mild to moderate symptoms to avoid a test.  With greater test availability, tests are recommended if you have any of these symptoms:

  • Sudden loss of smell or taste
  • Cough or sore throat
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Fatigue
  • Muscle aches
  • Fever (more common in kids)
  • Nausea or vomiting (more common in kids)

“While a positive test may not change how you support your symptoms, a negative result may help shorten isolation or quarantine in some situations,” says McKeen.

6. If you are vaccinated, were exposed to COVID-19 and aren’t showing any symptoms, the CDC recommends wearing a mask indoors in public, and getting tested five to seven days after the exposure. If you develop symptoms, isolate and get tested right away.

  • If your test comes back positive: “Isolate for 10 days,” explains McKeen. “If you develop symptoms during that time, the clock starts over.  After 10 more days have passed if your symptoms are improving and you’ve been fever free for 24 hours you can stop isolating -- as long as your symptoms are not severe and your immune system is healthy.”  She adds, “It’s easy to get confused about the differences between isolation and quarantine, and all the nuances of how to protect yourself and others.  Your health care provider can help personalize the guidance to your situation”. (CDC Quarantine vs. Isolation)

7. If you decide to do an at-home test, choose wisely. Now you can buy at-home tests at many pharmacies or even on amazon.com. For most, you just do a lower nasal swab on yourself and results take around 20 minutes.

The tests can be convenient and quick, but there are a few potential downsides. At $15 to $25 for a two-pack of tests, they’re more expensive than the free COVID tests offered at many health clinics or community centers. Additionally, some faulty ones could be flooding the market. Stick to brands with FDA emergency use authorization like the Amazon COVID-19 FDA Authorized PCR Test Collection Kit or connect with one of our nurses to send you an at-home test. If you are in the Seattle area, you can schedule a visit to our drive through testing site location as well.  You can find more information about that on our COVID-19 page..  

If you receive a negative test result but are experiencing symptoms, or if you receive a positive result from your at-home test, connect with one of our clinicians by starting a visit in the app.

8. When can you be around people again? If you think you or know you had COVID-19 you can be around other again when it has been 1) 10 days since symptoms first appeared and 2) 24 hours no fever without the use of fever-reducing medications and 3) the other symptoms you are experiencing are showing improvement.  Though loss of taste and/or smell could last for a few weeks to months and should not delay the end of your isolation. Though the CDC recommendations that this does not apply to people with severe COVID-19 or who are immunocompromised.

9. Reinfection does not mean you have long-haul COVID. When COVID symptoms including fatigue, shortness of breath, difficulty concentrating, headaches, or achy joints stick around for months, it is referred to as long-haul COVID. We still don’t know why it affects some people this way, or exactly how to treat it, but some sufferers have reported that getting the vaccine helps alleviate some symptoms.

If you are still experiencing COVID symptoms or have any questions about the virus, don’t hesitate to reach out today.


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