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.

Sexually Transmitted Diseases Awareness Month

By Larissa D. Wiley, PA-C

April is Sexually Transmitted Disease Awareness Month also known as Sexually Transmitted Infections (STI) and we all need more awareness about this issue. Awareness of STDs, prevention efforts, and appropriate treatment for STDs are critical for an individual’s health. According to the CDC, there are 20 million new STD diagnoses every year in America, however, most Americans aren’t aware that they are on the rise.

A problem on the rise

Adolescents make up over half of newly diagnosed STDs but represent only 25% of those who are sexually active.  Human Papillomavirus (HPV) is the most common STD at 14 million new cases per year, followed by chlamydia at 2.8 million cases.  All demographic groups are seeing increases in diseases.

In 2018, Maricopa county ranked among the highest for chlamydia and gonorrhea cases. According to Arizona Department of Health Services, gonorrhea has increased 94% in the last five years!

Based on the increase and our 4.4 million residents in Maricopa county, in 2018 there were 27,045 chlamydia cases, 9,085 gonorrhea cases and 801 primary and secondary syphilis cases. That means Maricopa county – just one county – was responsible for 1.5% of all chlamydia and gonorrhea cases and 2.2% of all primary and secondary syphilis cases in the entire country!

What a positive diagnosis means

Many STIs have no symptoms, but they can still be passed to other people, and some STDs have lifelong consequences.  Early diagnosis and treatment are critical! Many STDs can be cured or easily managed by your medical provider.

If these diseases are not addressed:

  • Human Papillomavirus (HPV) can result in reproductive cancers.
  • Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) is incurable and leads to a constellation of health complications including AIDS.
  • Syphilis can cause blindness, paralysis, heart damage and various neurological complications, as well as serious complications when spread from mother to baby.
  • Untreated gonorrhea and chlamydia infections can result in infertility.

Prevention is key

Thankfully, sexually transmitted diseases are largely preventable. The Gardasil9 vaccine prevents nine different high-risk forms of HPV. The HPV vaccine also reduced genital warts and cervical cancer rates by over 71% from 2006 to 2016. There is also a Hepatitis B vaccine which is available for all age groups and is over 98% effective.

Medications like the Pre-Exposure (PrEP) and Post-Exposure Prophylaxis (PEP) reduce HIV infections; PrEP is started prior to HIV exposure and PEP is for HIV-negative patients who were exposed to someone with HIV. More information about this is available from the CDC here.

Sexually transmitted disease awareness is important to your health, and safety measures can reduce the risk of sexually transmitted diseases. Use a latex or polyurethane condom, limit your number of sexual partners, avoid sexual behaviors that could compromise condom effectiveness, and test for STDs before becoming sexually active with a new partner.

If you do contract a sexually transmitted disease, seek treatment early rather than waiting; this could reduce permanent damage and spread.  Please talk to your primary care provider about any questions you may have.  At NOAH, we are here to help and answer question about all aspects of your health, including your sexual and reproductive health. Talk to a NOAH provider today!

Ask the Expert: COVID-19 Vaccine

Alicia Ottmann, MMS, PA-C | Director of Advanced Practice

COVID-19 has been part of our lives for almost a year. With the welcome news of a vaccine, there is a lot of information to understand. That’s why NOAH’s expert, Alicia Ottmann, NOAH’s Director of Advanced Practice, answered some of the most popular COVID-19 vaccine questions.

When will the vaccine be available?

There are a few different versions of the COVID-19 vaccine, all in different phases of development or use. Currently (as of Dec. 22), the Pfizer and the Moderna vaccines have both received emergency use authorization by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and are starting to be distributed and administered to people who need it.

The federal and state governments have categorized groups of individuals who will receive the vaccine first, these people are the highest risk for contracting the virus or developing complications as a result of infection. Examples of those who will be vaccinated first include healthcare providers and long-term care facility residents.

The next group will include people who are at increased risk of getting severely ill or who are more likely to be hospitalized if they contract COVID-19, this includes the elderly and essential workers such as bus drivers, teachers and grocery store workers. After that, the people that the CDC identifies as needing to take extra precautions – those who are undergoing cancer treatment, living with a chronic disease, etc. – will likely be next. The priority categories are similar from state to state, but subcategories and the rate at which they move from phase to phase may have some differences depending on where people live.

Vaccinating millions of people can take time, so for those individuals in the general population, who do not get vaccinated as part of the first priority groups, vaccines will likely not become available until spring of 2021 or beyond.

Can I get vaccinated at NOAH?

NOAH doesn’t have the vaccine yet. The vaccines have arrived in Arizona but are not available for us to order just yet. We are planning on offering multiple easy ways to get vaccinated, which might include drive-up appointments or drive-through events so patients can avoid coming into the clinic.

Keep checking the NOAH COVID page for updates about the vaccine, testing and other COVID news in Maricopa County.

How will I know when the vaccine is available for me?

If you are in one of the categories that will get vaccinated first – healthcare worker, frontline employee – then you will be contacted by whatever entity has been tasked with serving your employer. For example, healthcare workers, teachers, EMS, etc., all get assigned to geographic groups. The organization in charge of that group will be responsible for scheduling all of those who are interested in getting vaccinated.

People who are high-risk or who qualify because of their age will likely be assigned to one of these geographic groups, or will be provided with vaccination sites that they can go to (the details are still being worked out).

How do register for the vaccine?

If you qualify to get the vaccine because of your job, your employer will send your information to the responsible organization and they will contact you when it is time to schedule. The health department is working on the process for the remainder of the priority groups (1b, 1c etc.).

Different zip codes have different groups, or pods, that manage that information. For example, if you work in healthcare in Mesa, you will have a specific site where you will get vaccinated.

After the highest risk individuals are vaccinated, the general public will likely be able to get the shot at primary care offices or specific pharmacies.

Will we have to take it every year like the flu shot?

At this time we are unsure. We have recently seen some changes in the virus, similar to what happens with different strains of the flu year to year. At this time the vaccine is still effective, but scientists are learning more about COVID-19 all the time.

Is the vaccine going to work?

The COVID-19 vaccines currently available do not use a live, weakened virus, unlike many of the other vaccines we are familiar with. Both vaccines currently available are about 95% effective. This means that after someone gets both doses, they will develop an immune response that will fight off the virus the majority of the time.

However, we need around 70-80% of the population vaccinated to reach herd immunity which will allow us to recover from the pandemic and the strain that it has placed on our systems. Herd immunity helps to protect our entire community, especially those who cannot get vaccinated. It’s also worth noting that right now, the vaccines aren’t authorized for children.

Will it be effective if children can’t get the vaccine?

The reason we are not able to vaccine children under 16 years old is because not enough studies have looked at the safety and effectiveness in children. Those studies are currently underway, and it is a rigorous process. Since we know it is safe for adults, we have now started looking at children, pregnant women and other populations with the hope of expanding the number of people who are candidates. It will just take more time for it to be authorized for widespread use.

What will the vaccine cost? What if I don’t have insurance?

There is no cost for the vaccine. If you have insurance, it will be billed to your insurance company, but you will not be responsible for any portion. If you don’t have insurance, there will be no cost to you as it will be covered by federal funds.

What if I get one dose and miss my appointment to get the second?

Unfortunately, if you miss the window for taking the second dose, you may have to start the vaccine process over. The effectiveness of the vaccine hinges on getting it at the right time, the studies have not looked at huge differences in timing and thus we are unsure about whether you would need to start over, or if you could get the second dose outside of the recommended window of time.

Also, it is important for you to get your second dose from the same vaccine manufacturer. If the first dose is the Pfizer COVID vaccine, then the second dose also has to be Pfizer. No switching or mixing allowed.

Will this vaccine alter my DNA because it uses mRNA?

No, it won’t alter your DNA as it never enters the nucleus of the cell. The science used for the mRNA COVID vaccines has been used safely for other medical purposes for over a decade, but COVID-19 is the first time the science has been used in widely distributed vaccines. The way it works is, instead of giving our bodies a weakened virus or portion of a pathogen to trigger our immune system to make antibodies like typical vaccines, the mRNA process is giving our body the “recipe” to make the proteins which trigger an immune response (antibodies).

And, the good news is that the process to manufacture the vaccines is faster and looks to be highly effective, maybe more effective than traditional vaccine methods!

Check back with NOAH for more updates about COVID testing and vaccines and your other healthcare needs.

Recognizing the Impact of Antibiotics

By Cody Randel

Antibiotics save and improve countless lives every day. However, antibiotic resistance is something we need to understand and face together. November 18 – 24 is Antibiotic Awareness Week in the U.S. and World Antimicrobial Awareness Week on a global scale. Antimicrobial resistance of any kind can impact everyone.

Antibiotics are part of the antimicrobial family, which also includes antivirals, antifungals, and antiparasitics. These medicines kill infections and diseases. Without them, humans will have a much more difficult time fighting and surviving diseases. Fortunately, the World Health Organization (WHO) saw this growing problem and has made it a priority. Because diseases become more difficult to treat as antibiotic resistance increases, it will make all antimicrobials less effective.

WHO’s Five Goals to Tackle Antimicrobial Resistance

  • Raise awareness 
  • Increase monitoring and research
  • Reduce infections
  • Maximize the use of antimicrobial medications 
  • Sustainable investment in new medicines, diagnostic tools, vaccines, and other interventions

We rely on antibiotics to help us recover from what may seem like minor illnesses today. But these illnesses could become life-threatening if antibiotic resistance increases.

Preventing Antibiotic Resistance

Antibiotic resistance is increasing in all parts of the world. Changing this is a big job that requires all of us to do our part. Here are six ways you can help:

  • Only use antibiotics prescribed to you by a certified health professional.
  • Never demand antibiotics from your health worker. If you need them, they will prescribe them.
  • Always follow directions for taking medications.
  • Never share any prescriptions.
  • Prevent illnesses by washing your hands and staying away from people who are sick.
  • Get vaccinated and stay up to date on seasonal vaccines like flu.

If you have questions about medications you are taking, or about vaccines you may need, talk to your healthcare provider. If you don’t have a primary care provider, request an appointment with one of our providers.