Women’s Health Week #2 – HPV Vaccine

By Dr. Hadass Fuerst & Dr. Marissa Jacobs

Women’s Health Week kicks off on Mother’s Day every year. This year for Women’s Health Week from May 8 – 14, NOAH is highlighting three health issues that women should be familiar with and can discuss with their provider any time of year.

NOAH recommends that everyone have a primary care provider (PCP) and a medical home. If you don’t have one or both of these, contact NOAH and establish a PCP who is right for you!

HPV Vaccine

Vaccines save lives in many ways, but the HPV vaccine and the virus it prevents is a little different. Two of NOAH’s providers, Dr. Hadass Fuerst and Dr. Marissa Jacobs explain why.

What is the HPV Vaccine?

The HPV vaccine protects against the human papillomavirus (HPV). This is a sexually transmitted infection and is extremely common. Almost everyone will be exposed to HPV at some point in their lives. Typically, if you are exposed, your body will fight off the virus easily. But when that doesn’t happen, HPV can lead to cancer later in life. In fact, HPV is responsible for more than 95% of cervical cancer cases.

The two- or three-part HPV vaccine (depending on your age) is given to preteens and is covered by most insurance, including Medicaid/AHCCS. If you don’t have insurance, you can get the vaccine at no cost at NOAH through Vaccines for Children.

Why is this vaccine so important?

The HPV vaccine provides coverage for nine strains of HPV which are linked to cervical cancer, anal cancers, and mouth cancers. Getting this vaccine protects against HPV and decreases the risk of future cancer. HPV vaccine is essentially a cancer vaccine.

Why does this vaccine start at 11?  

HPV vaccines can start as young as age 9, but according to the American Cancer Society, preteens have the best immune response with this vaccine, and the vaccine works best when given before someone is exposed to the virus. If the vaccines don’t start until age 15, they will need three doses instead of two. Vaccines can be given up to age 26.

Both males and females need the HPV vaccine because it protects you and your partners from getting or passing the virus. It also prevents genital warts and some cancers which both males and females can get.

What if you are 26 years and older?

The vaccine is now approved up to age 45, but it is less effective after age 18. Discuss this with your doctor if you are interested. Most sexually active adults have been exposed to some, but probably not all, strains of HPV. If you haven’t received the vaccine and are over 26, the best way to prevent these types of cancers is regular physicals and screenings with your PCP.

Are Your Vaccines Up to Date?

If you’re a parent you’ve likely discussed vaccinations on a regular basis with your child’s healthcare provider. Schools and other youth programs may have even required proof of vaccination prior to your child attending.

Who Should Get Vaccinated?

As we get older and focus on other priorities when we visit our healthcare providers, it’s easy for vaccinations to fall off the radar, but immunization benefits older people too. Vaccines can prevent infection-related cancers caused by viruses like hepatitis and HPV, and protect the health of the working population, the elderly, and others who may be more prone to, or experience severe complications from, infection. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has a handy tool to determine which vaccines you should consider based on your age and risk factors. This can be a great starting point and reminder to discuss vaccines with your healthcare provider.

Why Should You Get Vaccinated?

While getting vaccinated against infectious disease is sometimes a personal choice, there’s proof that immunization saves lives and protects people’s health. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the death rate for children under the age of five worldwide declined by almost 25% between 2010 and 2017. Measles vaccines alone prevented 25.5 million deaths since 2000 and polio vaccines have brought cases down by over 99% in the last 35 years. We’re fortunate to have had access to these vaccines in the United States for decades but many underdeveloped countries experience limited vaccine availability and use due to lack of funding and proper education.    

Your Choice to Get Vaccinated Affects Others

With COVID, we all experienced and continue to live with the disruptive and costly effects of a worldwide pandemic. With the development and distribution of a vaccine to prevent the spread of COVID, our children have gone back to school, social events and travel have resumed and the number of people losing their lives to COVID has been greatly reduced. It didn’t happen overnight and we only began to see significant changes once a large percentage of the population was vaccinated. Establishing wide-spread immunity is critical to fighting infectious disease so those choosing to not get vaccinated can affect everyone’s chance of survival.

In recognition of World Immunization Week April 24-30, NOAH urges you to make time to review the vaccination recommendations for yourself and your family, consult with your healthcare provider about any questions or concerns and, if vaccination is right for you, take a step toward ensuring Long Life for All.

Click or call 480-882-4545 to schedule an appointment to discuss with your healthcare provider.

Honoring Black History Month: Dr. Kizzmekia Corbett

Dr. Kizzmekia Corbett

Saving Lives With Modern Day Medicine

Dr. Kizzmekia Corbett is a female African-American scientist known for helping to create the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine. She is currently the Assistant Professor of Immunology and Infectious Diseases at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and the Shutzer Assistant Professor at the Harvard Radcliffe Institute.

Dr. Corbett developed her interest in science early in life and committed to pursuing a career in science while she was still in high school. She embraced every opportunity to participate in lab research working alongside world famous scientists.  After earning her bachelor’s degree, Dr. Corbett went to work as a trainer for the National Institutes of Health (NIH) where she also studied respiratory illness and vaccine development. 

For the next five years she continued her research on the other side of the world in Sri Lanka before returning to the NIH in 2014 to work on vaccine development.  Dr. Corbett’s efforts led medical advancements that would later be used in the creation of the COVID-19 vaccine.        

At the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, a team of NIH researchers including Dr. Corbett, began developing a vaccine based on some of the previous research conducted by Dr. Corbett.  To manufacture and test the vaccine, the NIH partnered with Moderna, a biotechnology company. The vaccine rapidly entered animal trials soon followed by clinical trials; eventually to become one of the first approved vaccines for COVID-19.   

When asked about her involvement with the development of the COVID-19 vaccine, Corbett said, “To be living in this moment where I have the opportunity to work on something that has imminent global importance…it’s just a surreal moment for me”. Corbett also stated she cried when results showed the Moderna vaccine worked.

NOAH honors Black History Month with snapshots of just a few of the important, impactful, and life-saving stories of Black history and healthcare in America. One of our primary goals at NOAH is to ensure quality healthcare for every member of our community. To do that, we will look at where we have been as a society, what we have accomplished, and how we will collectively achieve this goal.

For more life-saving stories of Black history and healthcare in America, check out these posts:

Get COVID Testing at NOAH’s FastTrack

NOAH offers FastTrack COVID testing at several health center locations. These FastTrack appointments are drive-up and only take a few minutes, making them easy for patients. Results are typically provided in about 24 hours.

The NOAH FastTrack testing does NOT require a separate telehealth or in-person provider appointment. However, a FastTrack testing appointment must be scheduled in advance, we cannot accommodate walk-in patients for this service. New and existing patients can schedule appointments at the location and time the works for best for them. Some same-day appointments may be available.

How FastTrack works:

  1. Request a COVID Test either online or by calling 480-882-4545.
  2. Show up to the NOAH Health Center at your scheduled time.
  3. Receive testing by a member of NOAH’s team.
  4. NOAH will contact you by phone with your test results (response time may vary but is usually within 24 hours).
  5. Your test results may also appear on your MyChart account.

The FastTrack test is a PCR test, which stands for Polymerase Chain Reaction. These tests are highly accurate and processed by our lab, Sonora Quest Labs. While the FastTrack test is not the same as an at-home test, patients receiving a FastTrack test at NOAH will receive a FREE at-home test kit (contains two tests) for future testing – while supplies last.

If you would like to talk with your healthcare provider prior to scheduling a COVID test, please schedule a telehealth or other type of appointment by requesting an appointment online, calling 480-882-4545, or message your provider through MyChart.

Each FastTrack test MUST have a separate appointment, even if patients – such as family members – plan to drive together. Please schedule all FastTrack COVID tests together if you plan to bring multiple people for testing.

For other questions around COVID and vaccines, visit NOAHhelps.org/COVID.

Flu Vaccines Myth vs. Fact

By Leslie Shelton, DO | Heuser Family Medicine Resident, PGY-I

There has been a lot of talk about vaccines lately. It can be confusing! So, let’s talk about some information about the flu vaccine and if it’s fact or myth.

“The flu vaccine gives you the flu.”MYTH

The flu vaccine is a dead form of the virus – it can not make more of itself inside the body. The possible side effects of most vaccines include fever, muscle aches and fatigue and that can be confusing because they are also symptoms of the flu. But it does not mean you have the flu, it just means you received a vaccine and your body is preparing for the possible future.

“The flu vaccine changes every year.”TRUTH

As the flu virus makes its way across the world, it is constantly changing and evolving. Based on years and years of data, the flu vaccine is altered every year to protect against the most likely strains of flu in the coming year.

“I got the flu vaccine and I still got the flu, so it does not work.”MYTH

A vaccine is not a magic bullet against getting an infection in the future (but that would be nice)! Instead, it helps make sure that IF you do get sick, your body is much better prepared to fight it so you do not get as ill as you may have without the vaccine.

“Kids should get the flu shot.”TRUTH

Any person 6 months of age or older should get the yearly flu vaccine. For those who are around infants younger than 6 months, it is even MORE important to be vaccinated to help protect them.

“I am allergic to eggs, so I cannot get the flu vaccine.”MYTH

This used to be true, but not any longer! The making of the flu vaccine has changed to be egg-free so that it is now safe to give to people with egg allergies.

Want More Info?

Test your knowledge with 5 Myths About the Flu Vaccine from the World Health Organization (WHO) and get Key Facts About the Seasonal Flu from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

If you have any questions about the flu vaccine, the doctors and pharmacists in your community would be more than happy to answer them. NOAH has also compiled 5 Things to Know for Flu Season specific to the 2021/2022 season. We are all in this together, so let’s prevent the flu!

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.