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Patients 18+ Can Get COVID Vaccine at NOAH

New age groups eligible for vaccine

Starting Wednesday, March 24, NOAH patients who are 18 and older can schedule to get the COVID vaccine.

NOAH is currently administering the Moderna COVID vaccine which has emergency use authorization for individuals who are 18 and older at several NOAH locations:

  • Venado Health Center
  • Palomino Health Center
  • Desert Mission Health Center
  • Copperwood Health Center

To schedule your appointment, complete the form below, or call 480-882-4545. There are drive-thru, drive-up, and in-clinic appointments available at different clinics on different days. You can request the location that works best for you.

After you submit the request form, a NOAH representative will call you to discuss available days and times for your appointment, and whether it is a drive-thru, drive-up, or in-clinic appointment.

Here are a few tips to get ready for your vaccine appointment, including what to bring with you and the process of getting the vaccine.

Get Ready for the COVID Vaccine.

As other age groups, like 16 and older, are available, NOAH will update the information and communicate with patients. Currently, only the Pfizer vaccine is approved for individuals 16 and older, the Moderna and Johnson and Johnson vaccines are only approved for 18 and older. For more information about that, visit this Maricopa County Eligibility and Prioritization page.

To learn more about the COVID-19 and the COVID vaccine, read our Ask the Expert article or visit our Coronavirus page to updates about signs and symptoms, testing, updated prevention tips, and vaccine information.

NOAH offers comprehensive, integrated healthcare for all individuals. At the nine different locations, NOAH provides services including pediatrics, dental, behavioral health, internal medicine, prenatal, family medicine, community resources, nutrition services, and more. To learn more about other services, visit our Services page.

Children’s Mental Health & Learning During COVID: A Series

By Zach Clay, Licensed Marriage, Family, and Child Therapy

During this unprecedented and often challenging time in the world, we need to consider the impact everything has on children. The COVID-19 pandemic can be particularly tough for children’s mental health and their ability to learn. NOAH’s Behavioral Health team shares expert insight, best practices, and resources in this series of posts to help children maintain mental health in the era of COVID-19, social distancing, and distance learning.  

Identifying Depression & Developing Coping Skills for Children

Children experience the world around them – the good, the bad, the stressful, the happy, the uncertain – and sometimes need support to navigate everything. In many ways, children are similar to adults with mental health; identifying what is happening, talking about what is happening, and developing healthy coping skills. Here, we highlight ways to identify depression in young children and coping skills that are easy for children to do and remember.

Signs of depression in children

Children who are experiencing depression may show it in a variety of ways. They may express feeling hopeless, helpless, and discouraged and as caregivers, we should listen and help them explain what they are thinking and how they’re feeling. But we must listen without judgement, or without trying to “fix” things. Parents and other caregivers don’t need to agree with what they are saying but do need to let them know that they are heard and supported. For example, “I hear you. That sounds really hard and I’m sorry you are feeling sad. I love you.”

Symptoms of depression may include:

  • Changes to sleep patterns
  • Gaining or losing weight
  • Sadness or irritability
  • Loss of interest in activities they usually enjoy
  • Unusual sadness or irritability, even when circumstances change
  • Reduced feelings of anticipation or excitement
  • Sluggish or lazy
  • Overly critical of themselves, like “I’m ugly.” “I’m no good.” “I’ll never make friends.”
  • Feelings of worthlessness, hopelessness
  • Thoughts of or attempts at suicide

It’s important to understand that this is more than a bad day or two, or occasional behavior changes that go away. If you see one or more of these symptoms for two weeks, they can suggest depression and you should make an appointment to get them professional help and support.

Developing coping skills

An important part of managing anxiety and fear is with healthy coping skills. These skills help you deal with stressful situations in a healthy and productive way. Mindfulness techniques are beneficial for all ages and are especially helpful for children. Mindfulness means taking time to focus on the present, be thoughtful about your feelings, focus your thoughts, and be in the moment.

These exercises take a little effort, but the investment is worth it especially now when there is such uncertainty about the future and what our world will be post-pandemic. These activities can make mindfulness work for both parents and children.

  • Squeeze Muscles: Starting at your toes, pick one muscle and squeeze it tight. Count to five. Release, and notice how your body changes. Repeat exercise moving up your body.
  • Belly Breathing: Put one hand on your stomach and one hand on your chest. Slowly breathe in from your stomach (expand like a balloon) and slowly breathe out (deflate).
  • Meditation: Sit in a relaxed, comfortable position. Pick something to focus on, like your breath. When your mind wanders, bring your attention back to your breath. Do this for just a few minutes.
  • Blowing Bubbles: Notice and talk about their shapes, textures, and colors.
  • Coloring: Color something. Focus on the colors and designs.
  • Listening to Music: Focus on a whole song or listen to a specific voice or an instrument.

Mindfulness doesn’t have to be a big deal or extra work. Take a few minutes in the morning, after school, before bed, or a time that works for your child and family to practice mindfulness.

NOAH’s comprehensive team of behavioral health experts  can work with you, your child and your entire family to address stresses, depression, coping skills, and more.

Children’s Mental Health & Learning During COVID: A Series

By Zach Clay, Licensed Marriage, Family, and Child Therapy

During this unprecedented and often challenging time in the world, we need to consider the impact everything has on children. The COVID-19 pandemic can be particularly tough for children’s mental health and their ability to learn. NOAH’s Behavioral Health team shares expert insight, best practices, and resources in this series of posts to help children maintain mental health in the era of COVID-19, social distancing, and distance learning.  

Adjusting to Changes in School and Learning

School is important for children. Even with more children learning through homeschooling or virtual schools before the COVID-19 pandemic hit, most children were still attending school in-person. When schools had to close and switch to remote learning in early 2020, children and families across the county faced a major adjustment.

While education is the primary goal, the school environment also provides access to friends, teachers, routines, and so much more. All of these things are critical for children’s academic and social development. On top of that, many students rely on schools for mental health care, along with nutritious and consistent meals.

Children experienced these changes while living through the uncertainty because of COVID and things outside of their control. That is a lot to ask of our kids.

How to best support children’s learning

Regardless of whether school is virtual or in-person for your child, this school year is different. Navigating remote learning or new rules, restrictions, and cancellations of regular school activities will be something parents and children need to do. Here are a few tips:

  • Set and keep a routine. Children benefit from routines, particularly in stressful times. Routines offer people of all ages comfort and predictability, so parents and other caregivers benefit too. Setting and keeping routines help children cope and can make school time more productive. More on coping skills for children in our next post!
  • Understand that (mis)behavior is often caused by emotions. Often times, a child may misbehave or have negative reactions for basic, emotional reasons. Frustrations with remote learning, cancelled parties, or other disappointments and unmet expectations can cause these emotions and behaviors. As the parent or caregiver, make the connection first to help change the behavior.
  • Develop important life skills. Remote learning can help children learn important self-regulation skills. Virtual classrooms and independent classwork offer the chance to set new goals, be accountable and independent, and learn to adapt if needed.
  • Be engaged in their education. This is always important for parents and caregivers to do. Ask about what children are learning and what they think is interesting. Help them organize their school day if it is virtual. Guide them through big assignments, help set goals, and give them choices about how you can help.

Monitor screen time

Screens are part of our daily lives. Before the pandemic, kids may be used to screens for fun activities like watching shows, being creative, and connecting with friends. Now, screen time might also be their classroom, group activity, class project and other extracurricular activities increasing their screen time even more. Here are some tips for managing screen time:

  • Kindness and some compassion go a long way. We are living through a once-in-a-lifetime event with the COVID-19 pandemic. A little unstructured screen time may be an important break or comfort for many kids. Letting your kids know that you understand their needs is a simple way to reduce stress for everyone.
  • Screen time can be a bonus. Try using extra screen time as an incentive for good behavior. If you try this, let your child know exactly what they need to do to earn the extra time. Write down the goal together and post it in their workspace as a reminder.
  • Keep a schedule. This can be part of the routine mentioned above. It’s helpful for kids to know when they’ll be allowed to use their devices. For example, maybe they always get 30 minutes before dinner. That structure helps kids know what to expect and can limit their requests for more screen time.
  • Set the example. It is so important for parents and caregivers to lead by example. If you set down your phone or tablet during set times (during dinner, after school/work, etc.), your children will be more likely to do the same. Plus, we all need to take breaks from technology and media, and we can all benefit from less time with our devices, and more moments with our kids.

Remember, we are all living through a challenging time, and children are experiencing everything happening around them. Spend some quality time with your child, which is proven to help kids feel appreciated and loved and gives them confidence in adapting to changes. NOAH offers comprehensive behavioral health services to help parents, children, and families during COVID-19 challenges, remote learning adjustments, and everyday life.

Above all, parents should know this: Do the best that you can. Your child appreciates it, even if they don’t show it now.

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.

Celebrating Thanksgiving in 2020

This year we have experienced many changes, from the way we celebrate birthdays and graduations, to elbow-bumps in place of handshakes. One of the more challenging differences of living through a pandemic, though, is going to be the holiday season, starting with celebrating Thanksgiving.

Typically, people travel to see family and friends, visit multiple homes on Thanksgiving and the days around it. Many people enjoy getting out with friends to local bars and restaurants. None of that, however, is safe in 2020 with COVID-19 increasing it’s hold on our communities and our health.

Celebrating Thanksgiving in 2020 may not be what we are all used to, but it can still be full of good food, friendly faces, and happy memories without risking anyone’s health and safety.

Tips for Thanksgiving 2020

  • Hold a Thanksgiving dinner just for your immediate family in your home.
  • Enjoy the beautiful Central Arizona weather and visit neighbors outdoors and with some distance between you.
  • Share your favorite recipes with friends and family, rather than making and bringing food to a big group Thanksgiving.
  • Delivering meals to isolated friends, family, or others in the community in a safe way.
  • Virtual Thanksgiving dinner with loved ones near or far.

Remember, that while health is critically important with COVID around, we also need to take care of our mental and emotional well-being. Seeing faces on screens and hearing voices over the phone doesn’t take the place of in-person holiday gatherings, but it is much better than not having that interaction at all. Relationships and seeing people you love – even on a screen that has grandma’s thumb covering it half the time – are so important.

Enjoy and embrace something new when you celebrate Thanksgiving, and remember to call, text, video chat, and safely visit (with masks or at a distance) with people you care about. If you need additional support from a counselor or community resources, reach out to the NOAH team for more information about services to support you and your family so you have a happy, healthy time celebrating Thanksgiving.

It’s Time For Your Flu Shot

By Dr. Nikita Mathew, DO PGY1

“Every year, 10 to 40 million people are affected by the influenza virus, resulting in 140,000 to 960,000 hospitalizations annually.”

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Flu season typically runs from October through February every year. One of the best ways to stay healthy is with the vaccine anytime during the flu season. Flu symptoms include:

  • fever
  • fatigue
  • sore throat
  • body aches

5 common questions about the flu vaccine

  1. Can I get the flu shot? Everyone over the age of 6 months is eligible for the flu vaccine. This includes special populations such as pregnant women, adults with chronic health conditions, and those over 65 years old. Exceptions to the flu vaccine are very limited, and include children less than 6 months old and those who had severe allergic reactions to the flu vaccine. You may have heard that those with egg allergies cannot get the flu shot, but the CDC recommends that these individuals still get the vaccine, but they may need to be monitored briefly afterward in a healthcare setting for allergic symptoms. There are also egg-free vaccines available.
  2. Why do I have to get the flu shot every year? The influenza virus changes year to year, so the flu vaccine you got last year likely will not protect you from the specific strain that is widespread this year. Researchers develop vaccines that will fight this year’s particular strain of the virus to maximize your protection. In addition, your immunity decreases over time so getting the vaccine annually helps build up your immunity again.
  3. When should I get the vaccine? The influenza virus is seasonal, typically starting in mid-October and peaking in winter. Your body will produce sufficient antibodies within two weeks after getting the vaccine. This is why the CDC recommends getting your flu shot sometime between September and late October. However, it’s never too late to get one, even past October. Flu shots will continue to be available well into winter and can protect you from the remainder of the flu season.
  4. Why do I feel like I have the flu after getting the shot? The flu vaccine contains an inactivated strain of the virus, meaning it cannot cause the flu but it does trigger your body’s immune response. This can result in body aches or a low-grade fever, but these symptoms are significantly less severe than those caused by the actual flu virus and resolve in 1-2 days, if present at all.
  5. How will the flu season be affected by COVID-19? Getting the flu shot is important every year, but especially this year in light of COVID-19. The pandemic has already stretched hospitals and healthcare resources pretty thin. Being vaccinated against the flu and reducing the risk of hospitalization is essential to help avoid an overlapping peak of influenza and coronavirus this winter. The flu shot will not make you more or less susceptible to COVID-19 since the viruses are completely separate.

Getting vaccinated not only helps protect you, but also helps protect your community and eases the burden on hospitals and the healthcare industry. Flu shots are currently available at NOAH clinics, so schedule an appointment today!

Physical and Mental Benefits of Being Kind

By Jessica Heintz, DO

In a world focused on getting ahead and moving faster, perhaps the solution to many problems is to simply slow down and be nice to someone – including ourselves! Kindness is a trait that everyone is capable of but far fewer demonstrate. At the same time, people stop and take notice when they see a truly kind act demonstrated by another. Described as a “habit of giving,” kindness can produce physical, social, and psychological benefits. It puts a smile on our faces while at the same time making the world a better, brighter place. Learn about the “why” and “how” of practicing kindness in our everyday lives.

 “There are three ways to ultimate success: The first way is to be kind. The second way is to be kind. The third way is to be kind.” 

Mr. Rogers

The physical and mental benefits of kindness are tangible. Kind actions signal our brains to release the natural chemicals of serotonin and dopamine. Essentially, these are the “feel good” hormones. When they are low, people can experience symptoms of anxiety and depression. Helping increase the levels of serotonin and dopamine by practicing kindness can help lessen these feelings and create a “helper’s high”. Positive emotions can subsequently help reduce stress. Depending on the action, kindness can even encourage physical activity. Raking your neighbor’s leaves will not only make your neighbor smile, but it will also help you burn a few extra calories!

Kindness produces psychological benefits as well. Practicing kindness often provides perspective on life and distracts us from our own problems. It helps foster gratitude, empathy, and compassion in our minds and hearts. Kindness helps form a positive and supportive environment as well as bonds with others, thus reducing isolation and loneliness. For those struggling with mental health, as many of us do, this is an invaluable part of any mental health recovery journey. Finally, kindness allows us to engage in meaningful activities, and it can provide a sense of purpose and context in the world.

How can you start to develop this habit of giving in in your own life? It is easy. Start with yourself, then move on to others. We cannot give of ourselves if there is no excess to draw from. Always begin with self care and being kind to yourself. Do something you enjoy and learn to set limits in your life. Keep a gratitude journal, take a bubble bath, practice your golf game, watch the sunset, exercise, enjoy a glass of good wine, sleep in late (or at the very least, go to bed early). Then, try to be kind to others. The opportunities are endless. You can volunteer, mentor, or become involved in supporting a charitable cause. Practice random acts of kindness by holding a door for someone, buying a stranger’s coffee, or even simply making eye contact with another person and smiling as they walk by.

These sorts of actions may seem trickier to do in our current COVID world, but I challenge you to get creative. Write a letter to a friend, call a grandparent, leave snacks out for delivery drivers, or cook a meal for a neighbor in need to drop off at the door. Kindness to animals counts too – consider taking your dog for an extra walk. Remember, it is the intention behind an action that matters rather than the size of the gesture. When the world slowly emerges from COVID quarantine, refocusing on the value of connection to and interaction with our fellow man through kindness cannot be understated- even if it is from 6 feet apart! It feels good to do good. Now, go out and be kind!