NEWS: COVID Vaccines for Children Age 5 – 11 at NOAH

The Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine has been approved for use in children ages 5 to 11. NOAH has the vaccine available to begin scheduling COVID vaccines for children and is kicking this off with a vaccine event on Saturday, Nov. 20 from 8 a.m. to 12 p.m. at NOAH Palomino Health Center.

The approval came after the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine was studied in approximately 3,100 children. The study shows the vaccine to be 90.7% effective in preventing COVID-19 in children 5 through 11 and there were no serious side effects found during the study.

While the same vaccine, the dosage children 5 to 11 will receive is 1/3 the dose those 12 and older receive. The second dose of the vaccine will be 21 days after the first dose. NOAH will schedule the second dose appointment when patients schedule the first dose for their child.

More Questions About COVID Vaccines for Children?

NOAH has put together some of the most common questions about COVID vaccines for children.

Schedule An Appointment

Parents or guardians of patients ages 5 to 11 can request a vaccine appointment at NOAH. The first vaccine opportunity is:

COVID-19 vaccines are free, and no insurance is required. For individuals under 18, parental consent is required. ID is required for parent or guardian and can include any government-issued ID.

If you have questions about COVID-19 or the vaccines, NOAH has answers here, or you can make an appointment to talk to your healthcare provider.

NEWS: NOAH Offering COVID Vaccine Booster

Recently the CDC approved a booster shot for the Pfizer COVID vaccine. NOAH will begin offering booster shots for specific groups starting Monday, Oct. 4. To schedule your Pfizer booster, contact NOAH at 480-882-4545 or request an appointment online.

All boosters should be given at least six months after the initial doses.

The CDC recommends booster doses of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine for people:

  • Age 65+ and residents in long-term care settings
  • Age 50-64 with underlying medical conditions
  • Age 18-49 with underlying medical conditions, depending on their individual benefits and risks
  • Age 18-64 who are at increased risk for COVID-19 exposure and spread because of school, work (including healthcare), or housing situations (including shelters), based on their individual benefits and risks.  

Many of the people who are now eligible to receive a booster shot received their initial vaccine early in the vaccination program, between December 2020 and May 2021, and will benefit from this additional protection. Read more about the CDC’s guidelines on boosters here.

The initial two-dose Pfizer mRNA vaccines provides excellent protection against COVID, but the data shows that the effectiveness of the vaccines at preventing mild to moderate infection decreases by around 20% over time. Regardless of whether people get the booster or not, the initial two-doses of Pfizer are still more than 80% effective at preventing COVID-19 hospitalization or death.

Did you get the Moderna or Johnson & Johnson vaccine?

At this time the CDC has not recommended booster shots for either the Moderna or Johnson & Johnson vaccines. The CDC will continue to monitor the safety and effectiveness of all COVID-19 vaccines and evaluate data to make any new recommendations for other vaccines or groups of people to receive boosters.

If you have any questions about the COVID vaccine, are unsure whether or not you qualify for the booster dose, or want help deciding which vaccine is right for you, make an appointment to talk to your NOAH provider.

Here’s What to Know About the Flu Shot

By Andrea Klock MSN, FNP-C | Family Nurse Practitioner

It’s that time of year again: Flu Season. Most people are familiar with the influenza (flu) vaccination and thankfully many of us receive a shot every year. With the current focus on COVID and that vaccine, it’s still very important to protect ourselves and each other from the flu.

Because the flu vaccine has been common for years, a lot of people don’t know the facts about the vaccine, like and why a yearly shot is necessary as compared to receiving a series or booster like the COVID vaccine.

Common Flu Vaccine Questions Answered

Why is the flu vaccine so important?

The CDC estimates that on average 3 – 11% of the population in the United States contract influenza yearly. But this number only reflects symptomatic patients who got tested for influenza. The percentage is higher when including persons who did not have symptoms or didn’t see a provider for a test.

Who is at high risk for problems if they catch the flu?

Those who are considered high risk for more serious complications if they get the flu include people who are 65 years or older, have a cancer diagnosis, are pregnant, have chronic medical conditions, or are young children.

When is the flu season?

Although the influenza virus can be detected at any time during the year, the peak infection time starts in the fall and goes through the winter months.

Why do I need the flu vaccine every year?

The influenza virus changes – mutates – every year creating new strains every flu season. The vaccine is restructured every year to provide the best possible coverage from new strains.

Can receiving the flu vaccination cause you to get the flu?

No – the flu vaccine is made with an inactivated virus or single protein (very small part) from the virus. Any reactions that mimic the flu after receiving the vaccination are our own body’s immune response.

How do I prevent catching the flu?

Along with getting the flu shot, the best way to prevent getting sick is to avoid others that are sick. A lot of what we did to slow COVID helps slow the flu too, like cover coughs and sneezes, wash your hands, and disinfect surfaces that may have been contaminated with the influenza virus. Always stay home from work, school, and other activities when sick to keep it from spreading to others.

Did you get your flu shot yet? Make an appointment with your NOAH provider today and get protected from the flu this season.

5 Things to Know for Flu Season 2021-2022

Flu season is around the corner and NOAH is ready to keep you and your family protected. We know that with COVID there might be additional questions about the virus, symptoms, and the vaccines. NOAH has you covered with these top five things to know about flu season.

1. Flu Season Is Almost Here

Flu season officially starts in October and can last through May of the following year. But the peak of flu usually happens around December through March with February being the month that often has the most flu cases nationwide.

2. Try These Safety Measures Stop the Flu

Many of the things we are doing now to slow or stop the spread of COVID like extra hand washing, more antibacterial gels and wipes, staying home when sick, wearing masks (especially if sneezing or coughing), will help reduce the flu as well! During last year’s flu season, the flu was minimal because of these safety measures, along with a lot of social distancing, so it is possible to keep the spread of flu lower than previous years.

3. The Flu Vaccine Helps

Every year, flu shot manufacturers identify the strains of influenza A and B that pose the most risk for the coming season. Flu shots also include H1N1, and because of flu shots, H1N1 isn’t causing outbreaks anymore. Flu shots are adjusted every year with new influenza (flu) strains because it mutates like all viruses.  

4. Flu Shots Help Different Ages Appropriately

Children are a high-risk group with flu so anyone 6 months and older should get the flu shot. When children under eight are getting the flu vaccine for the first time ever, they will need to have two doses, given four weeks apart. The following flu seasons will be just one dose.

A high-dose flu vaccine made specifically to support the more fragile immune system of people 65+ is available during flu season.

5. Flu Shots and COVID Shots Can Go Together

The CDC says that it is safe to get the flu and COVID vaccines at the same time.  If you have any concerns about potential side effects or changes in effectiveness of the vaccines if given together we suggest talking to your NOAH provider to come up with a vaccine plan that is right for you.

Almost everyone can and should get the flu shot every year, including people with egg allergies.. The only people who shouldn’t are patients under 6 months old or someone with history of an anaphylactic reaction to the flu shot in the past or a flu shot component. 

The CDC has a lot of information about flu season including updated flu cases and vaccine activity on their website here. NOAH offers patients different options including regular appointments and drive-up flu shots. If you have questions about the flu vaccine or want to schedule your appointment, contact NOAH today!

NEWS: Pfizer COVID Vaccine Receives Full FDA Approval

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) gave full approval for the Pfizer COVID vaccine Monday, Aug. 23 for patients 16 and older. This is the first COVID vaccine to be granted full approval from the FDA.

“The FDA’s approval of this vaccine is a milestone as we continue to battle the COVID-19 pandemic. While this and other vaccines have met the FDA’s rigorous, scientific standards for emergency use authorization, as the first FDA-approved COVID-19 vaccine, the public can be very confident that this vaccine meets the high standards for safety, effectiveness, and manufacturing quality the FDA requires of an approved product,” Acting FDA Commissioner Dr. Janet Woodcock said in a statement.

In December of 2020, the Pfizer vaccine was granted Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) by the FDA and has been administered to millions of people nationwide with high success rates. In May 2021, Pfizer submitted to the FDA’s Biologics License Application for the 16 and older population and was granted approval today.

To receive approval, the FDA reviewed data that has been updated since initial clinical trials (data that allowed for the EUA in December) which included tracking outcomes in even more patients over a longer period of time after receiving the vaccine doses.

The Pfizer vaccine, now marketed as Comirnaty, is still approved for use under the FDA’s EUA for patients ages 12 – 15 and for a third dose in certain immunocompromised individuals.

Moderna, which also received EUA in December 2020, began the process for full FDA approval earlier this summer and approval is expected later this year, but because every vaccine is different timing may vary. Johnson & Johnson has not yet begun the process for full FDA approval but has issued statements that they plan to submit for approval later in 2021.

NOAH offers all three COVID vaccines at health center around the Valley. To request a vaccine for people 12 and older, call 480-882-4545 or request a vaccine appointment online.

Be in the Know: Childhood Vaccines

By Amit Jain, MD FAAP MBA | Pediatrician

We’ve all heard about immunizations; the good, the new, the questions, and even the confusion. Unfortunately, confusing and misleading information causes fear or uncertainty in parents who only want the best for their kids with childhood vaccines. The truth is that the significant benefits that have come from childhood vaccinations is can be forgotten and even taken for granted. Humans have benefitted immeasurably from immunizations for over 200 years!

Pediatricians follow the lead and research of the American Academy of Pediatrics which recommends vaccinating children on the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) Immunization Schedules for Infants, Children, and Adolescents.

Concern and distrust about vaccines is real when there is so much misinformation, lack of knowledge about what vaccines really are and how they work. Let’s clear that up!

What are vaccines?

When various viruses, or other germs enter our body, our immune system sees parts of the germs as foreign (called antigens) and that they don’t belong. Then, our immune system creates a defense against the germs – called antibodies – to attack the viruses. Most vaccines work in the same way, with weakened or dead pieces of the virus (so it is impossible to get the virus from the vaccine) prompting the body’s immune system to create the antibody defense without actually getting the virus – many of which can cause lifelong problems or even death. Vaccines help your body fight the real thing without risking your health to develop the antibodies.

Why give vaccines?

The reason is simple – vaccines save lives! According to the Journal of American Medical Association, there was a 99% decline in deaths from diseases prevented by vaccines given during childhood.

Childhood Vaccines protect against 16 known viruses and bacteria. Before vaccines, these germs caused severe illness, disability and whole-body paralysis, and death. I have personally seen some terrible cases of many of these, such as meningitis, as well as their complications with children being paralyzed, requiring lifelong hearing aids, or needing feeding tubes for infections caused by HiB (Haemophilus influenza Type B), which is now prevented by a vaccine.

Schools also require children to receive at least some immunizations before starting school, and throughout school years.

Are vaccines safe, what about side effects?

Vaccines are generally very safe. They are backed by the American Academy of Pediatrics, American Academy of Family Practice, and the U.S. Center for Disease Control (CDC). But here is an overview of how vaccines are tested for safety.

It is normal for kids (and adults) to have some mild and temporary symptoms like fever or soreness at the site of the immunization. Serious allergic reactions are extremely rare – like anaphylaxis. As a provider, in weighing the risks and benefits of giving vaccines, as I do for any treatment or prevention, the benefits far outweigh any risks.

When should I get my child immunized?

Childhood vaccines should start right after birth with the Hepatitis B vaccination! From there, there is a specific schedule of when certain immunizations should be given. Pediatricians and Family Practitioners follow the CDC Immunization Schedule for Children and Adolescents that you can find here.

Do you know if your child’s immunizations are up to date? Do you have more questions about vaccines? Call and make an appointment with your child’s NOAH Provider to discuss your child’s immunizations.

Ask the Expert: COVID-19 in 2021

Dr. Jennifer Vanyo-Novak, D.O. | Family Physician, Medical Director

The COVID-19 pandemic has given us ups and downs over the past year and a half. We hear about the “return to normal” but what does that mean and how do we get there?

NOAH’s Medical Director and Family Physician Dr. Vanyo-Novak breaks down the facts, explains the complex, and clears up rumors and misunderstandings about COVID, vaccines, and the new normal.

Dr. Vanyo-Novak

A lot of places are opening back up. Do we really need masks again since places stopped requiring them? Isn’t COVID almost over?  

Unfortunately, no, COVID is not almost over. Though the number of cases declined for a while thanks to mask mandates, social distancing, and vaccines against COVID-19, we are now seeing the cases rise.  As of 7.27.2021 the CDC has advised that even vaccinated individuals begin to mask again indoors in high risk COVID regions which includes us here in Maricopa County. This is in part due to lower than needed vaccine rates, not enough people following guidelines, and an increase in travel and social gatherings.  Like with most viruses that go uncontained, we are seeing the virus that causes COVID-19 evolve into new variants (strains of the virus) that are smarter, more easily transmitted, and harder to defeat than the original strains of the virus.

Right now we are hearing about variants, especially the Delta variant, but what is the difference? Should we be worried about another outbreak?

Viruses are living things and they continuously change so they can evolve and survive. There are several different strains right now, Delta being the most common one in the U.S. Several new strains are labeled as “Variants of Concern” by the CDC meaning they are more transmissible, cause more serious illness, don’t respond as well to treatments, and can be more resistant to vaccines.

With a rise in cases due to the Delta variant and other “Variants of Concern” we are seeing an increase in hospitalizations in younger patients without risk factors, even young children.  The virus is not just a risk for the elderly or people with underlying conditions. 

If someone got the vaccine, are they safe from new COVID strains? Will they need to take booster shots?

Honestly, we are still learning about the virus, its’ variants, and the vaccines. In the beginning health experts and scientists weren’t sure booster shots would be needed. Now, it looks likely that boosters will be needed but we don’t know when. Originally, they did not think boosters would be needed soon, but this can change as the case numbers rise. What the experts are working on understanding is if vaccinated people are getting COVID, is it because these new strains are outsmarting the vaccines, if the vaccine effectiveness is fading, or a combination of the two. 

Currently 97% of COVID-19 hospitalizations are unvaccinated individuals. That tells us that while we will not ever be 100% protected, most vaccinated people are protected and if they do get infected it is unlikely that they will get seriously ill. That was always a big goal with the vaccine.

If someone didn’t get vaccinated and doesn’t plan to, won’t they be safe since other people got the vaccine and infections are lower than earlier in the pandemic?

It is great that as of 7.28.21 338 million Americans have been vaccinated against COVID. However, that is only 49% of the U.S., putting us well below the 70-80% needed for herd immunity.

COVID cases aren’t looking as good as they were even a month ago. Less than 50% of Maricopa County is fully vaccinated and with school starting, travel increasing, and mask mandates mostly gone, the number of infected people will continue to increase.

Most of us interact with other people: school, work, stores, travel, transportation, exercising at gyms, and more. We can’t just think about ourselves, we must consider our community – the herd – and protect that. We have a responsibility to our friends, family, neighbors, and society to take care of each other.

The virus will continue to mutate into new variants and harm people, and the vaccines are our greatest defense.  We need to achieve herd immunity before we can truly begin to feel safe.

Kids don’t get COVID, so why do they need a vaccine?

In general most children have a much more robust immune system than adults. Children have gotten COVID throughout the pandemic, but they are getting it more now, and ending up in the hospital more. With new variants this trend may continue, and more children may become seriously ill or worse, die from this virus.

Children, like the rest of us, interact with family members, friends, classmates, teammates, and many other people. We want children to be protected from this virus, but also for them to protect their community as well.

How can we possibly know if the vaccines are safe if they aren’t fully approved?

They have all been given Emergency Use Authorization by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and here is a short video to explain it. All vaccines have trials that require at least 3,000 people. The COVID vaccine trials were done on 30,000 people before the first approvals in late 2020!

The main difference in the approval and process for the COVID vaccines is that while most vaccines go through a series of steps, finishing one step before moving the next one, with COVID vaccines, they moved to the next step once all the data showed things were looking good (as opposed to fully completed). But every step was still included, all the monitoring and review was still happening, but in a more fluid way.

At this time, every step has been fully completed and vaccine makers are beginning to apply for full FDA approval.

If the risk of getting really sick from COVID-19 is still low, why should someone take a new vaccine?

Possible side effects from the vaccine are still much less than the risk of COVID-19 and serious illness, including what we are now seeing as long-haul COVID. The vaccine side effects are mostly normal, expected, and mild. COVID is mutating and with each strain it can be more deadly, or more infectious than before.

We cannot just consider ourselves; we have to consider the effects of our choices on those around us. 

If the mRNA (vaccine technology used in some vaccines) isn’t new medical technology, why haven’t we used it in vaccines before.

t hasn’t been used in vaccines before COVID because we haven’t needed a new vaccine on this scale until now. The mRNA technology has been used successfully for decades, with a lot of research done on its benefits and any risks.

Anyone 12 and older can schedule their vaccine appointment one of NOAH’s locations. Click here to request an appointment. If you have additional questions or concerns about COVID-19 or the vaccine, make an appointment with one of our medical providers.

NEWS: NOAH to offer Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine for ages 12+

PHOENIX (May 12, 2021) – Neighborhood Outreach Access to Health (NOAH), a leading community health center in Maricopa county delivering comprehensive health services to the underserved, announced today that it will offer the COVID-19 vaccine to those ages 12 and above beginning on May 21.

NOAH began rolling out COVID-19 vaccines in February, already vaccinating more than 16,000 patients, including many underserved community members. Anyone can schedule their vaccine with NOAH if they are 12 and older, regardless of whether they are a patient.

“We prioritize healthcare for every member of our community, and throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, that has meant adjusting, adding, and enhancing what we are doing and remaining flexible to the realities of this virus,” said Wendy Armendariz, NOAH CEO. “We are excited to provide the Pfizer vaccine to individuals 12 and older, in addition to Moderna and Johnson & Johnson. The NOAH team is thrilled to be able to add this important layer of protection to families in our community.”

NOAH currently offers both the Moderna two-dose vaccine as well as the Johnson & Johnson one-dose vaccine at various NOAH health centers. The nonprofit health center will begin offering the Pfizer two-dose vaccine in addition to the others, with the second dose given 21 days after the first. There is no cost for any COVID-19 vaccine.

At this time, Pfizer is the only vaccine approved for individuals under age 18. Five of NOAH’s nine locations currently offer COVID-19 vaccines, with two of those beginning to provide the Pfizer vaccine to 12 and older:

  • Desert Mission Health Center at 9201 N 5th St, Phoenix
  • Palomino Health Center at 16251 N Cave Creek Rd, Phoenix

Anyone can schedule their vaccine with NOAH, regardless of whether they are a NOAH patient or not and regardless of immigration status. No insurance is required for the vaccine. NOAH has bilingual staff and can help individuals schedule at https://noahhelps.org/covid-vaccine/ or by calling 480-882-4545.

Infant Immunizations Save Lives

It’s National Infant Immunization Week, and NOAH wants everyone to know how to access the vaccines your infant needs. Infants and young children are at risk serious, life-threatening diseases that are preventable with vaccines. The best thing parents and guardians can do for infants is keep them on track with both vaccines and well-child visits.

During 2020 and the COVID-19 pandemic, many families fell behind on their children’s vaccinations because people stayed home. This sharp decline in infant immunizations is a concern for young children and for entire communities.

Before vaccines, many children suffered from diseases like whooping cough, measles, and polio, some children had life-long challenges because of the diseases, and many died from them. When children get vaccinated, it protects them and protects others in their families and communities like people with medical conditions or infants too young to get vaccinated yet.

Now is the time to get back to your pediatrician and make sure your child is protected against 14 serious and preventable diseases.

What are the 14 diseases infant immunizations prevent?

  • Polio – infects a person’s brain and spinal cord and can cause paralysis and death.
  • Tetanus – causes painful muscle stiffness and lockjaw, and it can be fatal. Tetanus is part of the DTaP vaccine.
  • Flu (influenza) – infects the nose, throat, and lungs and can be dangerous for children of any age, particularly infants under 6 months who cannot yet get the flu shot. Children over 6-months, and parents and caregivers should get the flu vaccine.
  • Hepatitis B – a dangerous liver disease infants can get from their mother during birth, and leaves many with a lifelong illness.
  • Hepatitis A – a contagious liver disease that, unlike hepatitis B, can be spread orally.
  • Rubella – in a pregnant woman, it can cause miscarriage, infant death just after birth, and serious birth defects. Part of the MMR vaccine.
  • Hib – affects kids under 5 and can cause brain damage, hearing loss, or death.
  • Measles – Measles is very contagious! It can cause pneumonia (serious lung infection), brain damage, and deafness. Part of the MMR vaccine
  • Whooping Cough – Whooping cough is highly contagious and can be deadly to infants. Mothers should be vaccinated during pregnancy to pass some protection to their babies, and others who will be around the newborn should have a recent whooping cough vaccine. Part of DTaP vaccine.
  • Pneumococcal – causes ear, sinus, and lung infections, and can cause meningitis.
  • Rotavirus – causes diarrhea, vomiting, fever, stomach pain, and can quickly lead to sever dehydration and hospitalization.
  • Mumps – symptoms include puffy cheeks and a swollen jaw, fever, head and muscle pain, and can spread quickly. Part of the MMR vaccine.
  • Chickenpox – known for the itchy rash of up to 500 blisters, chickenpox can be life-threatening, especially in babies.
  • Diphtheria – makes it hard for people to breathe or swallow, diphtheria can lead to heart failure, paralysis, and even death. Part of the DTaP vaccine.

Read more about these 14 diseases and the vaccines at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Infant immunizations allow more children to live long, healthy lives. If you are unsure about what vaccines your infant, older child, or even yourself as a parent or caregiver currently need, talk to a NOAH pediatrician or family medicine provider today. You can also ask your NOAH provider any questions you have about vaccines, diseases, and vaccine schedules.

Request an appointment online or by calling 480-882-4545.

NEWS: NOAH to Reopen Cholla location in North Scottsdale

Health center offers primary care and mental health services to broader community

Neighborhood Outreach Access to Health (NOAH), a leading community health center in the Valley delivering comprehensive health services to the underserved, will officially reopen it’s Cholla Health Center today, April 19, after closing due to the pandemic in 2020.

Cholla map

One of nine NOAH Health Centers in Maricopa county, the Cholla Health Center is 6,000 square-feet with six exam rooms and three medical providers. It is located at 11130 E. Cholla St., Building I in Scottsdale just north of E. Shea Blvd. at Frank Lloyd Wright Blvd.

“NOAH prioritized the safety and health of our patients and staff during the most crucial months of the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Wendy Armendariz, CEO of NOAH. “Our resources were centralized, and we transitioned many healthcare appointments to telehealth whenever possible to mitigate spread while continuing to meet the needs of patients. We are excited to reopen our doors at our Cholla Health Center and serve our existing patients and welcome new patients in-person.”

Services at this location include primary care, behavioral health, psychology, and community resources. The Cholla Health Center will also provide the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine to patients as well as other members of the community. NOAH accepts most insurance plans including Medicare, private insurance, AHCCCS, Kids Care, and offers a sliding scale fee for uninsured patients.

Hours of operation are from 7:30 a.m. – 6 p.m. Monday – Friday for existing and new NOAH patients. Patients can make in-person or telehealth appointments by calling 480-882-4545 or online at NOAHhelps.org.