WENDELL BOARD OF HEALTH UPDATE FOR SEPTEMBER 2023
Pfizer and Moderna each have new monovalent mRNA Covid vaccines that should be available now through health centers, major pharmacies and doctors’ offices. They are recommended for all people 6 months of age and older. Check with your provider for dosage for those under 12 or if you are unsure when to get your shot due to recent previous infection or vaccination. The bivalent vaccines given previously are no longer authorized and will not be used. Covid cases have been rising, so get your injections by mid-October. CVS and Walgreens are scheduling their vaccinations through their websites. Walgreens also does walk-ins; CVS does as well but they are not guaranteed. Novavax has developed a new non-mRNA protein-based vaccine that is still under review and may be approved soon.
Flu shots are now available and should be received before Halloween. They are recommended for those ages 6 months and older, especially those at high risk. Check with your doctor first if you are pregnant or have a chronic health condition. Those over 65 should get a high-dose or adjuvanted formula.
Both Covid and flu vaccines should be covered by Medicare, Medicaid, Mass Health and private insurance. Both shots may be taken at the same time. If you are uninsured or under insured, the CDC Bridge Access Program can help adults. Visit cdc.gov/vaccines/programs/bridge/index. html For children there is a federally funded program to help those who would not otherwise be vaccinated due to cost called the Vaccines for Children Program. Visit cdc.gov>vaccines/respiratory viruses>whats-new
Vaccinations for RSV (Respiratory Syncytial Virus) are recommended for adults age 60+ (Abrysvo) and pregnant women (Arexvy) based on discussion with their doctor. It is covered by Medicare Part D and may require a doctor’s prescription. Private insurance may not cover this vaccine, so check first: the cost for the shot is about $300 otherwise.
Covid rapid antigen at-home test kits are no longer funded by federal funds, nor is the Commonwealth funding them now, so the Board of Health will no longer be able to distribute them. We will not be receiving N95 masks as well. If this policy changes, we will let you know. Test kits are widely available at major pharmacies and may be partially covered by insurance; check with your provider. If you are a client with the Community Health Center of Franklin County, medical or dental, you can get free tests there.
You should assess the risk to yourself and your household members when deciding whether or not to mask. If you choose to mask, use an N95. Avoid crowded indoor places with poor ventilation and people of unknown Covid status. Mask mandates are not expected unless a severe outbreak occurs, but businesses can require masks on their own. If you get Covid, ask your doctor if you can take Paxlovid, an antiviral that effectively shortens the disease, reduces symptoms and prevents hospitalizations and deaths. It should be taken within 5 days of the first symptoms. If it causes a metallic taste, try chewing gum after you take it. If you get Covid-19, visit mass.gov/info-details/covid-19-isolation-and-exposure-guidance-for-the-general -public for care information.
Take care and be well, Barbara Craddock for the Wendell Board of Health.