COVID-19 Treatment Options

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COVID-19 medications are now available through your doctor, local pharmacies, and health clinics. If you have COVID-19 symptoms and test positive, do not wait to get treated. Early intervention with COVID-19 therapeutics can reduce the risk of severe illness and hospitalization for people with COVID-19 who are at high risk of developing more serious illness.

If you think you might qualify, please speak to your healthcare provider first and get a referral and/or prescription for treatment. Please note that any healthcare provider can evaluate and prescribe you COVID-19 medication just as they normally would.

For assistance:

What is PrEP (pre-exposure prophylaxis)?

Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) is medication designed to block a virus from attachment and entering human cells. People 12 years and older may qualify for pre-exposure prophylaxis if persons are:

  • Not currently infected with COVID-19.
  • At least 88 pounds (40 kg) in weight.
  • Moderate to severely immune compromised.
  • Not recommended by their health care provider to receive the COVID-19 vaccine.

Please note: Pre-exposure prevention with Evusheld is not a substitute for vaccination in individuals for whom COVID-19 vaccination is recommended. 

What are Oral Antivirals?

Two treatments are available: Paxlovid™ (Pfizer) and molnupiravir (Merck). Oral antiviral treatment may help your body fight COVID-19 by stopping the SARS-CoV-2 virus (the virus that causes COVID-19) from multiplying in your body, lowering the amount of the virus within your body, or helping your immune system. By getting treatment, you could have less serious symptoms and may lower the chances of your illness getting worse and needing care in the hospital. You must take oral COVID-19 medication within 5 days of your first COVID-19 symptoms.

What are Monoclonal Antibody Treatments?

If you are at risk for severe COVID-19 illness and you have tested positive for COVID-19 or have been in close contact with someone who has tested positive, you may want to consider a monoclonal antibody (mAb) treatment. You may qualify for a mAb treatment (bebtelovimab) to treat COVID-19 depending on your age, health history, and how long you have had symptoms. A mAb treatment may help people who:

  • Are at high risk of getting more serious symptoms; and
  • Have a positive COVID-19 test with symptoms for 7 days or less; OR
  • Have been in close contact with someone who has recently tested positive.

How much does treatment cost?

Treatment is provided free of charge by the Federal Government, although each provider may charge an administration fee that will be billed to your insurance provider with a possible copay for the patient. If uninsured, call the State COVID-19 Information Hotline for assistance: 1-800-525-0127, then press #.

For more information:


Prepare Them for Fall; Prepare Them for Life

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Are your kids heading back to school? Whether your child is going to school in person or not, one of the most important things that you can do to prepare them for back-to-school is a visit with their doctor. For many people, the COVID-19 pandemic delayed or pushed back routine doctor visits, including well-child visits and routine vaccinations. Now is the time to get back on track!

Since August is National Immunization Awareness Month (NIAM), we figured this would be the perfect time to remind Skagit County families to get caught up on all routine medical appointments! NIAM is an annual observance which highlights the importance of getting recommended vaccines throughout your life.

During NIAM, we encourage you to talk to your doctor or healthcare professional to ensure that you and your family are protected against serious diseases by getting caught up on routine check-ups and vaccinations.

So let’s get ready for back-to-school! Here’s a checklist to help them prepare for a healthy year…

Physical & mental health

During a well-child check, doctors will note a child’s growth and development, based on what’s typical or expected for their age, while also taking into account the child’s personal or family history.

And perhaps of equal importance—and especially so this year—a check-up with your child’s doctor provides a fantastic opportunity to check in on your kiddo’s mental and emotional wellbeing. Talk with your child’s doctor about mental health assessments and discuss any concerns that you may have. We all know that this past year and a half has been tough, so be sure to keep both the head and the heart in mind!

Visit here for more tips on well-child visits.

Vaccinations

One important aspect of the annual visit is to ensure a child’s immunizations are up to date. Vaccinations not only reduce the risk of serious illnesses but also save lives. And vaccinations aren’t only for babies or the very young. As children get older, they will continue to need additional immunizations and booster shots even through adulthood.

As your children head back to school this fall, it’s particularly important for you to work with your child’s doctor or nurse to make sure they get caught up on missed well-child visits and recommended vaccines. For childhood vaccine schedules, check out the links below:

Vaccine Schedule: Birth – 6 Years

Vaccine Schedule: 7 Years – 18 Years

One of the new vaccines this year is, of course, for COVID-19. Children ages 12 and older are now eligible for this vaccination, which will help protect them against the virus and reduce its spread in our communities. To learn more about COVID-19 vaccination, check out the following websites:

Adults: Remember to take care of yourself too! Make sure to receive any vaccines you need to stay healthy. Use CDC’s adult vaccine assessment tool to see which vaccines might be right for you.

Additional exams

In addition to having their overall physical and mental health checked, kids should also have the following special exams on a regular basis:

  • Hearing tests.
  • Vision exams.
  • Dental checkups.
  • For young girls who are going or have gone through puberty, chat with your provider about whether or when they should begin seeing a specialist.

More tips for a healthy year

Here are some more helpful tips to ensure your child is off to a good start this fall:

  • Ease into a fall bedtime schedule.  Good sleep is essential!
  • Know the safety tips for backpack use. Note the fit and keep the weight manageable.
  • Plan lunches and snacks.  Aim for well-balanced nourishing meals.
  • Reduce anxiety and manage stress.  Keep the lines of communication open to talk about what’s on your child’s mind.

Schedule your child’s visit

Now is a good time to call your healthcare provider to schedule a visit for yourself and your children. For those who do not have a healthcare provider or who may be struggling to access healthcare, there is help available.

Help Me Grow Skagit provides a wide range of resources designed to support you and your family. Go to their website or call/ text (360) 630-8352 to talk to a specialist or complete their contact form online.


WA Department of Health Releases Next Phase of Vaccine Prioritization

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January 8, 2021

On January 6th, the Washington State Department of Health (DOH) released guidance for phase 1B, which is the next phase of COVID-19 vaccine prioritization. DOH worked closely with the Governor’s Office to finalize prioritization for phase 1B, while also relying on federal guidance and public input through focus groups, interviews, and surveys over the past few months.

This guidance is for planning purposes only. Washington State and Skagit County will remain in Phase 1A of vaccinations until all Phase 1A individuals who want the vaccines have it. As a reminder, Phase 1A includes:

Tier 1: High risk workers in health care settings; High risk first responders; and residents and staff of nursing homes, assisted living facilities, and other community-based, congregate living settings where most individuals over 65 years of age are receiving care, supervision, or assistance.

Tier 2: All workers in healthcare settings.

Skagit County Public Health and its partner providers are ready to vaccinate our community; however, the ability to do so remains reliant on when and how much vaccine is received from the State. Current allocations have been very limited. To date, Skagit County has only received vaccine to meet approximately 25% of our 1A eligible workers and long term care facility residents.  Phase 1A will need to be completed before we will be able to move on to Phase 1B in Skagit County.

People should not expect Skagit County to move into Phase 1B until February at the earliest. If we receive greater dose allocations from the state, this timing will improve. Public Health will announce movement into the next phase of vaccinations via our press release system, web site and social media. Sign up here to get press releases from Skagit County.

“Skagit County Public Health and our partner providers have put a lot of time and effort into preparing for this moment. We are ready! As soon as we receive a consistent supply of vaccine from the State and are clear to begin phase 1B, we will let Skagitonians know how and where to get vaccinated.”

Jennifer Johnson, Skagit County Public Health Director

Due to limited vaccine availability, Phase 1B has been broken up into four separate tiers. Groups eligible for vaccination in phase 1B will include:

Phase 1B1 – (Tier 1)

  • All people 70 years and older
  • People 50 years and older who live in multigenerational households

Phase 1B2 – (Tier 2)

  • High risk critical workers 50 years and older who work in certain congregate settings: Agriculture; food processing; grocery stores; K-12 (teachers and school staff); childcare; corrections, prisons, jails or detention facilities (staff); public transit; fire; law enforcement

Phase 1B3 – (Tier 3)

  • People 16 years or older with two or more co-morbidities or underlying conditions

Phase 1B4 – (Tier 4)

  • High-risk critical workers in certain congregate settings under 50 years
  • People, staff and volunteers all ages in congregate living settings:
    • Correctional facilities; group homes for people with disabilities; people experiencing homelessness that live in or access services in congregate settings
Skagit County Public Health’s vaccine roll-out timeline, estimated based on WA DOH’s guidance and timeline, as well as adequate vaccine allocation from federal and state government.

WA DOH has also announced the creation of the Phase Finder online tool that allows people to assess their eligibility for the COVID-19 vaccine. It is currently being tested for Phase 1A eligible individuals and will launch broadly on January 18th. Phase Finder will be available in multiple languages and will be used to confirm individual eligibility for the COVID-19 vaccine.

For COVID-19 vaccine information, visit our webpage at www.skagitcounty.net/COVIDvaccine.


COVID-19 Vaccine Distribution Begins in WA State

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December 15, 2020

Skagit County is very excited to announce that safe, effective COVID-19 vaccine has been approved and that initial vaccine distribution has begun in Washington State.

COVID-19 vaccine has been authorized for emergency use by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Multiple vaccines are under development and several are in large scale clinical trials with tens of thousands of volunteers to ensure they are both safe and effective. Skagit County Public Health is working with the Washington State Department of Health on vaccine distribution.

Washington State is in Phase 1a of vaccination which includes the following groups:

• High risk workers in health care settings

• High risk first responders

• Residents and staff of nursing homes, assisted living facilities, and other community-based, congregate living settings where most individuals over 65 years of age are receiving care, supervision, or assistance.

Phase 1a is defined at the federal and state level to preserve our critical health care workers and first responders and to protect those at highest risk of severe outcomes of COVID-19. The number of doses available in each area of the state is determined by federal and state government allocations based on population factors, priority group factors, and disease incidence.

COVID-19 vaccine is not anticipated to be widely available to the general public until later in spring and summer. Eventually vaccine will be available for everyone in all recommended groups.

Vaccine safety is a priority. All COVID-19 vaccines must go through a rigorous and multi-step testing, evaluation and approval process before they can be used. They will only be approved if they pass FDA’s safety and effectiveness standards. Vaccines will also be monitored for safety once they are given.

“A safe and effective vaccine against COVID-19 is very exciting news and a major scientific accomplishment,” said Jennifer Johnson, Skagit County Public Health Director. “That said, it is important to keep in mind that a vaccine alone is not enough to end the pandemic. Even once the vaccine is widely available, it will be necessary to continue to follow all current safety guidance to protect ourselves and our loved ones. We understand that this has been a long road, however, we are now beginning to see the light at the end of the tunnel.”

As more information is learned about the vaccines ability to limit transmission the CDC will update this guidance.  

For more information and for the most up-to-date information, visit our vaccine webpage at https://www.skagitcounty.net/Departments/HealthDiseases/coronavirusvaccine.htm.


Preparing for the COVID-19 Vaccine

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We have been hearing some really positive things in the media recently about the development of COVID-19 vaccines. This news has been very exciting for the many people who are anxiously waiting for a vaccine to become available. With case numbers on the rise, it is no wonder that people are encouraged by the idea of a vaccine being approved before the New Year.

Understandably, there are those who are concerned about a new vaccine. For this reason, it is important to discuss the State’s plans for vaccine distribution, as well as what we should expect over the next several months. After all, it is important that Skagitonians have all the necessary information so that each individual can make an informed decision about the health and safety of themselves, and their loved ones.

Why is a vaccine important?

Wearing masks and social distancing help reduce your chance of being exposed to the virus or spreading it to others, but these measures are not enough. Vaccines will work with your immune system so it will be ready to fight the virus if you are exposed. A COVID-19 vaccine will help to protect you by creating an antibody response without having to experience sickness.

How are vaccines vetted for safety and effectiveness?

The speed in which these vaccines have been developed and the newness of the technology can seem scary to some. It is important to understand that safety has in no way been compromised, even with a quicker development timeline. Rather than eliminating steps from traditional development timelines, steps are being conducted simultaneously.

Clinical trials are currently underway to evaluate investigational COVID-19 vaccines. These clinical trials include thousands of study participants to generate scientific data and other information for the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). This data is then analyzed to determine safety and effectiveness.

These clinical trials are being conducted according to the FDA’s rigorous standards. If it is determined that a vaccine meets the FDA’s safety and effectiveness standards, it can make these vaccines available for use by approval or Emergency Use Authorization (EUA).

An EUA allows the FDA to make a product available during a declared state of emergency before it has a full license. So far, two vaccine manufacturers have applied for emergency use authorization, however the FDA has not yet approved a COVID-19 vaccine. If EUAs are approved, these vaccines will then be vetted by the Scientific Safety Review Workgroup, as part of the Western States Pact.

Even once a vaccine is approved for use, there are vaccine safety monitoring systems in place to track any possible side effects. If an unexpected adverse event is seen, experts quickly study it further to assess whether it is a true safety concern. Experts then decide whether changes are needed in vaccine recommendations.

When is a vaccine going to be available?

As of right now, we don’t have an exact date. The timeline is based on when an FDA-approved, safe and effective vaccine is available.However, WA DOH is hopeful that a vaccine will be available to begin administering by mid-December 2020.

There is a lot of planning taking place at the federal, state, and local level around vaccine distribution. In October, Washington State submitted its interim vaccine distribution plan to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for approval. In Skagit County, the Public Health Department and its community partners are currently discussing plans for distribution—including logistics, as well as messaging.

Who will receive the vaccine when it first arrives?

Manufacturing, distribution, and administration will all take time. The availability of the vaccine, as well as local capacity to vaccinate people, will directly impact the timeline for distribution.

Washington State’s vaccination plan is tiered to focus on specific groups early on. Included in the first phase are those at highest risk. This is to ensure that these individuals will receive the vaccination as soon as possible.

Based on recommendations from the National Academy of Medicine, these high-risk individuals include: health care workers at high risk for COVID-19; first responders at high risk for COVID-19; and people with underlying health conditions that put them at a significantly higher risk for COVID-19.

The second phase would expand to include more people, including school and child care staff, as well as people of any age who have underlying conditions that put them at higher risk of severe illness.

Most healthy adults shouldn’t expect to be vaccinated until phase three or four. We expect more information for groups such as children and pregnant women to be available in the coming months.

Where can I go for more information?

There is so much information right now about the COVID-19 vaccine, but there is also a lot of speculation and misinformation. It is so crucial that we seek out credible information! Please turn to trusted sources for health information, including your healthcare provider and public health experts.

For general questions about the COVID-19 vaccine, email WA DOH at covid.vaccine@doh.wa.gov. And as always, you can contact Skagit County Public Health with any of your COVID-19 questions (360-416-1500).

Other resources:

https://www.doh.wa.gov/Emergencies/COVID19/Vaccine#FAQ

https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/vaccines/faq.html

https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/vaccines/8-things.html

https://www.fda.gov/emergency-preparedness-and-response/coronavirus-disease-2019-covid-19/covid-19-vaccines


Don’t delay your healthcare: a message from Connie Davis, MD

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Health Care is a Basic Need 

As always, pandemic or not, healthcare providers are keeping a watchful eye on our community. I must say, although people are following most advice, there is one thing that I have noticed from the front line; some people are waiting far too long and are arriving at our healthcare facility doors very late and very sick. 

People have told us they are avoiding coming to doctor’s offices, urgent care clinics and emergency departments. I have seen patients and heard stories of people delaying their concerns about chest pain, then finally arriving at the hospital with very serious heart attacks that could have been prevented by coming in earlier. Patients have tolerated abdominal pain and come in with a hole in their appendix after it ruptured and now requires prolonged surgery. Likewise, I know of a pregnant woman who developed a medical issue and showed up late for fear of catching COVID-19 in the hospital. And I have heard from other physicians that people are not going for their important blood thinner testing. I am afraid people are putting themselves at risk because of COVID-19 fear.

Clinic Spaces are Kept Safe

I and my fellow healthcare providers want to make sure you know we are keeping our spaces safe. We screen all people coming into our clinics and hospitals, we offer telemedicine visits you can join from home, we stood up Acute Respiratory Clinics to keep people with symptoms separate from those without, we boosted our already strict cleaning procedures to be super clean and designed separate areas in our hospitals to care for those with COVID-19. We are a safe place to come when you need care. 

My ask is that you call us, use the telemedicine options to connect for regular appointments and discuss the importance of maintaining your screening program (such as mammograms, blood testing, etc.) with your doctor. If you have a chronic illness, stay on the rhythm of appointments and tests as you normally would. If you are experiencing new or worse symptoms, you must quickly connect with your doctor, or go to urgent care or the hospital.  We want to make sure that you visit a healthcare provider for the same level of care you would expect at any other time.

I value the trust that you put in our teams to provide for your health and well-being.  You can trust us now, more than ever, with your care.

Connie Davis, MD

Chief Medical Officer

Skagit Regional Health

Connie Davis, MD
Skagit Regional Hospital