COVID-19 Update as of November 8, 2021

VACCINATIONS FOR CHILDREN

As of November 2, 2021, the CDC recommends that all people 5 years and older get the COVID-19 vaccine. The Pfizer vaccine has been authorized for children ages 5-11 years old.


To find a vaccine for your child, follow one of the listed options:


- Call your primary care provider’s office directly

- Visit VaxFinder at https://vaxfinder.mass.gov/

- Call the COVID-19 Vaccine Resource Line at 2-1-1 or (877) 211-6277

- Text your ZIP code to 43882


On November 4, 2021, The Baker-Polito Administration announced its plans for distributing the Pfizer Pediatric COVID-19 vaccine for children ages 5 to 11 in Massachusetts. More than 500 locations will be offering the vaccine, ranging from retail pharmacies, primary care practices, regional collaboratives, local boards of health, community health centers, hospital systems, state-supported vaccination sites, and mobile clinics. Some appointments are available now for booking, and additional locations and appointments are expected to become available in the coming days.


COVID-19 BOOSTER ELIGIBILITY

Find out if you are eligible for a booster vaccine using this form.


In the week of October 17th, the FDA approved booster shots for those who have received the Moderna and Johnson and Johnson Vaccines. Following Pfizer receiving approval for boosters last month, all three FDA approved vaccines now have a corresponding booster shot approved. Additionally, the FDA also approved a “mix and match” approach to these booster shots, meaning that you don’t have to seek out the same “brand” of vaccine when receiving a booster, making it easier to find a COVID-19 vaccine.


The CDC is currently recommending that all those over 65 years of age, adults who live or work in high-risk settings or long-term care facilities, or an adult with a qualifying underlying medical condition receive a booster. If you fall into one of those categories and received either the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine you should receive a booster six months after becoming fully vaccinated, for those who received the J&J vaccine, you should receive your booster two months after you became fully vaccinated. If you are under 65 and do not fall into a high-risk category, then you currently are not eligible for a booster shot, although that may change in the coming weeks and months as more data is reviewed and released. Just like the initial vaccine, these will be offered to the public free of charge.


As we head towards the winter months and the holiday season these boosters will provide additional defense against the virus and its variants. If you are eligible, please get your booster shot as soon as possible. To schedule your booster shot or determine your eligibility, you can visit vaccines.gov or text your zip-code to 438829 to receive a list of sites providing booster shots in your area. You can also reach out to your primary care physician, pharmacist, or community health center for further assistance.


OVER THE COUNTER TAKE-HOME RAPID TESTS

The FDA has approved several new self-administered COVID-19 rapid tests. Rapid tests provide results in a matter of minutes and can be purchased over the counter without a prescription. There is an ever-growing list of approved at-home rapid tests and the data released suggests that these tests are successful at detecting asymptomatic and pre-symptomatic COVID-19 cases within those who are most likely to transmit the virus. Rapid testing is an increasingly critical tool in our battle to end the pandemic as we move into the winter season and 2022. Even if you are fully vaccinated, when feeling sick please stay home and get tested, and if you test positive for COVID-19 please reach out to a medical provider for more information.


The following is an excerpt from a recent New York Times article outlining the benefits of rapid testing and how to safely celebrate this holiday season with friends and family:


“Use rapid testing to reduce risk.


According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, taking a coronavirus test ahead of a holiday celebration can reduce the risk of spreading the virus, particularly when people from multiple households and different parts of the country mix.


Rapid antigen tests, which can indicate within minutes whether someone is contagious with Covid-19, are the best options, said Dr. Michael J. Mina, an epidemiologist at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and a co-author of a recent New York Times editorial about the usefulness of home testing.


“Everyone knows if they come to my house, they are going to be tested,” he said.


Dr. Mina, who is hosting Thanksgiving dinner this year (and also has a newborn), will offer rapid antigen home tests to each of his guests, regardless of their vaccination status — and his family will use them as well. Any guests who are positive will need to leave.


Taking the test just before entering someone’s home is ideal, because the results only reflect whether you have a lot of virus in your nose at that very moment, he added.


If your family members balk at the idea, remind them that an infected person can easily spread the virus to other people, even if they don’t have symptoms. And while the vaccine is very good at protecting against severe illness and death, the latest data suggest that immunity against infection may be slowly waning for vaccinated people.

“If a rapid test says you’re positive, then that is a very reliable indication that you are infected and infectious,” said Eleanor Murray, an epidemiologist at the Boston University School of Public Health. “You should not be around other people.”


Rapid tests are sometimes in short supply, but can be found at retailers like Amazon, Walmart, Kroger, CVS or Walgreens, both online and in stores. Many of them are pricey, often costing around $24 for two tests.”


The full article is linked here: “How to Host Thanksgiving With Unvaccinated Friends and Family,” by Christina Caron, New York Times.

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