Covid-19 vaccines began last week for everyone over 75 in Massachusetts. The state distribution program includes websites to sign up, outreach calls from major health care organizations and pharmacies, and a new 211 call center. Most all elders should be started on vaccination this month and finish by late March. The over-65 population and younger people with several comorbidities will follow. When younger, healthy populations get vaccine late Q2 will depend on vaccine supply. While there remains lots of uncertainly, the roll-out seems to be working and even improving. Stay calm.
Covid-19 infections are peaking, with far too many infections in our practice. People are NOT being careful with non-immediate family or at work. We are set to vaccinate each of you, but do not yet have vaccine allocation from DPH. We believe (but don’t know) that the start of vaccination will be second week in February.
Two monoclonal antibody treatments are conditionally approved by the FDA, seem to substantially help moderately severe cases of Covid-19, and are supposed to be available for use as outpatient infusions to prevent hospitalizations and deaths. In practice they are not actually available, as I found out this weekend trying to arrange an infusion for a patient. This is another fail of our health system.
Vaccinations with the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines have started. We do not yet have any for our patients, but are poised to begin immunizations as soon as DPH supplies us. This may be February. Meantime, Covid-19 disease risk is at an all-time high in Massachusetts and may well worsen. Keep safe. DO NOT SPEND TIME INDOORS IN GROUPS other than regular household members.
We are doing in-person visits for checkups and urgent problems, but this Fall’s massive Covid-19 surge, which is expected to worsen in January, may make the face-to-face contacts too risky. Fortunately, video visits are a pretty good substitute much of the time.
A brief review of the multiple ways we work to protect you and our staff in our clinical environment, including improvements in HVAC, aggressive cleaning and PPE, and SARS-CoV-2 antigen testing for patients and staff. These efforts all serve to reduce the risk of passing or acquiring Covid-19 in the OHC clinical office.
We will start our flu clinics on Tuesday, September 29. Clinics will be offered Tuesday and Thursday afternoons and some Friday mornings through the end of October, or even early November as needed, for everyone to get the flu vaccine. A signup calendar will be active on our website within a few days. Further instructions will follow as well.
We are still in the midst of a pandemic that has subsided in Massachusetts but is still very much with us and could easily rebound. We need to remain vigilant in our self care. No real good news. US infections and deaths are at high levels and increasing. An effective and proven vaccine is not realistic until next year and then will take many months to distribute. Keep up your careful self care. This is depressing but real.
We have started scheduling comprehensive visits (“checkups”) for members in the office. Checkups will be divided into two parts, with video discussion one day and in-office physical exam and completion the subsequent day. This will allow thorough and effective comprehensive exams that will be safer by restricting in time spent in closed exam rooms. In addition we have detailed phone prescreening for Covid-19 and active virus point-of-care testing on arrival at the office to protect all of us.