Dear Families and Friends of VNA Health,
Since living and working in a pandemic, one thing I think we all have learned is that it’s hard to predict what’s going to happen next, and that our ability to be flexible to change and ready to respond is key to our success. I am so proud of our VNA Health clinicians, caregivers, support staff and volunteers for taking on the COVID challenges, working as a team, and keeping each other safe so that we can keep you – our patients and families – safe and provide the needed care.
As we go into the Flu Season, while also fighting COVID, we all need to continue to be safe. We know that the flu season alone can stress our healthcare system, and this year the flu is going to be our unknown wild card. Therefore, with the potential of fighting the flu and COVID at the same time, and the critical need to protect healthcare workers, public health officials highly recommend getting the flu shot. AND, if you are eligible, you may get the flu shot and the Pfizer COVID booster at the same time.
The FDA authorized the booster shot of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID vaccine, and the CDC recommends the Pfizer booster in certain populations and for those in high-risk occupational and institutional settings. Persons who have received the Pfizer COVID vaccine and meet the new CDC guidelines are able to access this booster dose. Persons who have received a Moderna or Johnson & Johnson COVID vaccine are NOT eligible to receive the Pfizer booster under current guidance. In a few weeks, public health officials anticipate having more information available about a booster for Moderna and/or Johnson & Johnson.
The CDC recommends the following populations SHOULD RECEIVE the Pfizer booster shot 6 months following the second dose of their Pfizer COVID vaccine:
• People 65 years and older
• Residents in long-term care settings
• People aged 50–64 years with underlying medical conditions
The CDC recommends the following populations MAY RECEIVE the Pfizer shot 6 months following the second dose of their Pfizer COVID vaccine:
• People aged 18-49 years with underlying medical conditions
• People aged 18-64 years who are at increased risk for COVID exposure and transmission because of occupational or institution (such as healthcare workers)
As a community, we need to stay ahead of the Flu and COVID, and as we have learned, it is not just one thing that protects us. Our protection is a full arsenal combining masking, social distancing, testing, getting a vaccine/booster, and staying home when sick.
• Masking: Continue to wear the appropriate face mask at work, and PPE if necessary.
• Social Distancing: Continue to maintain 6-feet distance in our indoor spaces, and other areas as recommended by Public Health.
• Testing: Continue to complete Antigen testing as appropriate. If you test positive on the Antigen test, then you will need to take a PCR test.
• Getting a vaccine/booster: Get your flu shot, and the COVID booster shot, if you are eligible. Booster shots of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID vaccine (now known as Comirnaty) are available to eligible Californians. You may sign up online at https://myturn.ca.gov/ or go directly to your pharmacy’s website or contact your healthcare provider.
• Staying Home if you feel sick: Whether it’s the flu or COVID, if you become symptomatic with a cough, sore throat, shortness of breath, runny nose, fever, or chills – stay home and get better.
Be safe, healthy and well!
Lynda Tanner, RN, MSN
President & CEO
LEARN MORE ABOUT THE COVID19 VACCINES
WHAT COVID19 VACCINES ARE APPROVED IN THE UNITED STATES?
As of March 1, 2021, there are three vaccines with Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) commonly known as Moderna, Pfizer, and Johnson & Johnson. Below is a comparison table identifying the Strategy, Efficacy, Dosage, and Side Effects of each vaccine. Learn more about the vaccines from the CDC.
IS THE COVID19 VACCINE SAFE?
First, it is important to know that the COVID19 vaccines do not cause the disease COVID19. The goal of the vaccines is to teach our immune system how to fight the coronavirus that causes the disease COVID19. The three vaccines have received Emergency Use Authorization for only adults and older teens (not children) by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The FDA’s high safety standards are globally recognized, and the safety of COVID19 vaccines will continually be monitored to ensure even very rare side effects are identified.
HOW DO THE COVID19 VACCINES WORK?
Think of your immune system like an Emergency Preparedness Plan: BE AWARE, BE PREPARED, BE READY. Vaccines work with your immune system by making your body aware and prepared for the potential virus so that your body will be ready to fight the virus if exposed. It does this by prompting an immune response to a part of the virus – a specific protein code on the spikes of the coronavirus SARS-CoV-2. The vaccine prepares your body to build its own arsenal of germ fighting white blood cells called B-lymphocytes and T-lymphocytes. Once your own white blood cells defeat the vaccine-specific protein code, your body remains prepared by keeping a “memory” supply of these particular B-lymphocytes and T-lymphocytes, so that if you become exposed to the real virus, your body is ready to fight.
You should know that sometimes, after vaccination, the process of building the immune response can cause symptoms, such as pain at the injection site and fever. These symptoms are normal and are a sign that the body is building immunity. Also, it typically takes a few weeks for the body to produce T-lymphocytes and B-lymphocytes after vaccination. So, it is possible that a person could be infected with the virus that causes COVID19 just before or just after vaccination, and then get sick because the vaccine did not have enough time to provide protection.
PROTECT YOURSELF & LOVED ONES
We know that COVID-19 spreads person-to-person, through close contact via respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes. It can also spread from contact with infected surfaces or objects. As with other respiratory illnesses like the cold and flu, you can protect yourself and your loved ones from germs and viruses.
FACTS ABOUT COVID-19 VACCINES
To stop this pandemic, we need to use all of our prevention tools. Vaccines are one of the most eﬀective tools to protect
your health and prevent disease. Vaccines work with your body’s natural defenses so your body will be ready to fght
the virus, if you are exposed (also called immunity). Other steps, like wearing a mask that covers your nose and mouth
and staying at least 6 feet away from other people you don’t live with, also help stop the spread of COVID-19.
Click on the flyer to learn more facts about the COVID-19 vaccines.
KNOW THE SYMPTOMS OF COVID-19
Typical symptoms of COVID-19 include fever, cough, sore throat, shortness of breath, difficulty breathing and fatigue. If you develop symptoms, please call your physician. If you are going to see your doctor, call ahead so that precautions may be taken prior to your arrival.
Individuals with symptoms of COVID-19 seeking care at a hospital emergency department, please call ahead if possible, or stop outside the emergency entrance and call the phone number provided at the entrance doors. A staff member will provide a properly fitted mask and assist with protected entry to avoid exposure to others.
If you are experiencing a life-threatening emergency, call 911.
CA NOTIFY: NEW SMART PHONE TOOL DESIGNED TO SLOW THE SPREAD OF COVID 19
Starting December 10, 2020 a new digital tool called CA Notify, will help reduce the transmission of COVID-19 and be available to smartphone users. Upon its launch, Californians can opt in to receive COVID-19 notifications informing them if they have been exposed to someone who has tested positive for the virus. CA Notify is a digital tool that protects privacy and security – it does not collect device location to detect exposure and does not share a user’s identity. The tool was developed in partnership with Google and Apple and piloted with the help of the University California, San Diego and the University of California, San Francisco.
CARING FOR SOMEONE WITH COVID-19
For those who are caregivers of family members who have the flu or COVID-19, it is important to protect yourselves as well. Please review the "COVID-19 Recommendations for Family and Caregivers" guidance from the CDC.
Whether it's a public health emergency like COVID19 or natural disasters like wildfires, Californians have embraced a culture of preparedness. Have you packed your Emergency Go-Bag? Food, water, cash and medications are just some of the items to consider. Plan now to be ready for the next disaster.
Be Aware: Sign up for emergency text alerts
Santa Barbara County – readysbc.org
Ventura County – readyventuracounty.org/vc-alert
Be Prepared: Create a plan and pack a Go-Bag for your Car
Click on the image to download the Go-Bag List