Start of Phase II for COVID Vaccine Distribution - January 23, 2021
Following an announcement on Thursday night from Lowell General CEO Amy Hoey and Chief of Infectious Disease Adam Weston, we are now able to relay to our patients the roll out plan for Phase II of the COVID vaccine distribution. Phase II is hopefully slated to start within the first couple of weeks of February 2021. Currently, Phase II will consist of the following patients: 1) ALL patients over the age of 75 and 2) All patients with two co-morbid conditions as defined by the Mass DPH.
The conditions are as follows: Cancer, Chronic Kidney Disease, Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease, Downs Syndrome, Congestive Heart Failure, Coronary Artery Disease, Cardiomyopathy, Immunocompromised state due to previous organ transplant, Obesity with BMI >30; Pregnancy, Sickle Cell Disease, Smoking, Type II Diabetes.
If you meet two of the above criteria, you will be eligible in Phase II. If you have any questions concerning your possible eligibility, please contact us at Mill City Medical (978-955-9500).
Within the next two weeks, Circle Health will be finalizing their plans for distribution. The distribution of the vaccine will be given at a central location, still yet to be determined by Lowell General Hospital. The vaccine WILL NOT BE GIVEN at the Mill City Office. Unfortunately, as many are aware, there are a number of logistical issues associated with the administration of the vaccine which will prevent us from giving it at Mill City Medical. Lowell General Hospital will be putting out a link for patients to go online and register. Upon registration, patients will be given a scheduled time and date to receive their vaccine. We are also planning to have this link for patients on our website once it becomes available. We are available at Mill City to help any patient that has difficulty with the registration process. When registering, you may be asked for insurance information - be advised, this is for demographic information only. THERE IS NO CHARGE FOR THE VACCINE.
Currently, Circle Health will be distributing both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines. The efficacy and side effects between both the vaccines are similar. You will need to have the same type of vaccine given to you on your second shot. You will be told at the administration of your first vaccine which type you are receiving and when to come back for your second dosage. The current rule of thumb is two weeks for the Pfizer and three weeks for the Moderna. We ask that you try to stay as close to that schedule as possible,
FAQ's About the Vaccine:
Is it safe? Yes, it is safe. The technology that has been used to develop the vaccine has been around for many years and dates back to research done initially with the HIV virus. This is not something that has just been thought up in the last 8 months.
Are there side effects? So far, they are quite minimal. Usually soreness at the injection site, achy, fatigue, possible low grade fever. These are all completely normal and signs that your immune system is reacting correctly to the vaccine. Most reported symptoms are gone within 24 hours. A very rare side effect of an allergic reaction has been reported - currently in about 1 out of every 100,000 people getting the vaccine. This is why patients are required to receive the vaccine in a monitored setting with medical professionals and be watched for 15 minutes following administration.
Can I get COVID from the vaccine or give someone COVID? Absolutely NOT. The vaccine is what is called a single-stranded RNA vaccine. It stimulates your cells to create antibodies. There is NO live virus in the vaccine
Who should not get this vaccine? Almost no one. The only absolute contraindication to the vaccine is a known allergic reaction to components in the vaccine. For instance, there is no EGG in the vaccine. This is something you may discuss with your Mill City Provider should you have any questions.
I had COVID, do I really need the vaccine? Absolutely YES. We still do not know for those who have had COVID if this provides any long term immunity to future infections. There have been some reported cases of individuals being infected twice. Therefore, yes you should get the vaccine. Even if your infection was recent, as long as you are past the prescribed number of quarantine days and without symptoms, you can get the vaccine.
How long is the vaccine good for....that's a good question. Moderna is currently saying at least a year. Obviously, we do not yet have enough data to say. It may mean yearly booster vaccines in the future similar to the annual influenza vaccine. Stay tuned on this one.
I'm pregnant, thinking about getting pregnant or nursing, ?should I get the vaccine...The American College of OB/GYN has recently recommended that all women who fall into these classes get the COVID 19 vaccine. Yes, it has not been extensively studied in any of these groups. However, the risk of being pregnant and getting COVID outweighs the risk of the vaccine.
Why would I want to do this...simple, the only way that we ever get back to "normal" is by having the population become vaccinated. This will hopefully stop the spread of COVID once and for all. Also, it is likely that one's ability to travel in the future, attend live sporting events, concerts, ETC may be dependent on the ability to produce proof that you were immunized. Already this week, a couple of countries in the European Union have made it mandatory that all foreign visitors produce proof of immunization. It is likely that this practice will become more common, even for flying and domestic travel.
We will continue to update this page as more information becomes known. Please do not hesitate to contact us with any questions.
Stay Safe...The Staff of Mill City Medical Group
January 7, 2021
The next step in Phase I that we are moving towards in Massachusetts is the vaccination of first responders. If any of our patients are working as first responders, please make sure to check the www.mass.gov website for details on this process.
January 1, 2021
A great number of patients at Mill City Medical have been asking about the Covid vaccine now that it has been released. We hope this will help answer some of those questions.
Currently, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts is in Phase I in the vaccine release. This includes Health Care Workers, first responders, and nursing home residents. Right now, the vaccine is being sent only to hospitals and health care facilities.
In Phase I, there are NO plans to send the vaccine to medical offices, CVS, Walgreens, Minute Clinics, etc. Hopefully, this will happen in Phase II, when the vaccine will start to be given for usage to the general public.
We are asking our patients to periodically check our website. When we have further information, we will pass it along by updating our website and social media accounts.
In the interim, remain safe! Wear your mask, socially distance, and wash your hands. Have a happy and SAFE holiday season. As always, we are here to answer any questions you may have.
November 24, 2020 - COVID-19 Update
Due to the current surge of cases in the COVID-19 pandemic, we thought you may find it helpful for Mill City Medical to put forth some recommendations in regards to who needs to be tested and who does not.
1) Any person experiencing fever, sore throat, cough, chest congestion or chills that last more than a day and do not improve simply with rest and OTC analgesics such as Tylenol or Advil.
2) Any person with knowledge of DIRECT exposure to someone who has tested positive for COVID-19. DIRECT exposure is defined as DIRECT contact with that person for at least 15 minutes and at a distance of six feet or less.
We have been getting a number of calls about secondary exposure... meaning for instance, someone tested positive at your child's school. We would advise your child to be tested if, again, they came in direct contact with this person. However, you as the parent, are a secondary contact. Unless your child were to become positive or exhibit symptoms, you yourself, do not need to be tested. The same holds true for a spouse or co-worker who may have been exposed. Unless they themselves are positive, you as the secondary exposure, does not need to be tested. Due to the surge, we are finding it more difficult for patients that need to be tested, to obtain COVID-19 testing; resources are becoming limited. We ask for that reason, if there is any question, to call us and we can advise if you need testing.
Sadly, we cannot at this time offer testing for travel related issues, such as traveling out of state or children returning from college. For this, we would advise you look on the Mass DPH website to seek advice for other testing facilities in the area. Also, patients that have been directed by an employer to have a COVID-19 test before returning to work should seek their own testing as well. We apologize for any inconvenience that this may cause. However, with this, we are hoping to facilitate testing and reserve it for those who really need it. Sadly, our testing resources right now are compromised; a situation we all hope will improve over the next few weeks.
As a reminder, Mill City Medical has a physician on call 24 hours a day to answer any questions you may have. Have a safe and socially distanced Thanksgiving.
As most are aware, the rate of new COVID-19 infections are on rise across Massachusetts.
Continue practicing of safe social distancing,
making only necessary trips out, and
wearing face masks in public places.
Get a seasonal influenza vaccine
Mill City Medical continues to make the health and safety of our patients and staff our top priority:
Our office undergoes professional cleaning services on a daily basis. Additionally, each exam room is thoroughly cleaned between every patient.
Prior to an appointment, every patient will receive an email with all of the details for that visit as well as links to complete paperwork before coming into the office. We ask that patients:
1) confirm your appointment via our automated Appointment Reminder System (either by phone or email),
2) complete all paperwork and
3) submit your copay online prior to leaving home.
Within a few days of your visit, if you have experienced fever, chills, sore throat, cough, shortness of breath, new or odd rashes - we ask that you please call the office immediately so that we can schedule a telehealth visit.
We ask that you arrive no more than 5 minutes before your scheduled appointment.
Upon entering our office, every person will be greeted by our concierge in our new “No Wait” Waiting Room. You will be provided hand sanitizer and your temperature will be taken with a No-Touch thermometer before immediately being escorted into an exam room. If you do not have a mask, you will be provided one to be worn for the duration of your visit.
During the visit, our staff will observe governmental PPE guidelines.
At the conclusion of your visit, all testing and required follow ups will be coordinated by our staff and communicated to patients at a later time to avoid all waiting at check-out.
Lastly, for the safety of our staff and other patients, we are asking that all patients come alone to their visits. However, if this is not possible, you can arrive with one other person to accompany you on your visit. They, likewise, will need to be masked, have remained illness free for a few days prior to the visit, and will need to either remain outside the office or in the exam room with you for the entire duration of your visit. No one will be allowed to enter, leave or remain in a waiting area inside the office.
All of us at Mill City Medical thank you for your patience with the above requests and look forward to seeing you for your upcoming visit!
I want to be tested for COVID-19 even though I haven’t been exposed. What can I do?
Though we are all interested to know if we have been exposed at some point in time, currently in Massachusetts, COVID-19 Antigen routine testing is not recommended for the general public. Right now it is limited to specific scenarios. This situation is constantly evolving, so please stay tuned for updates. We are regularly updating our Facebook and Instagram social media accounts with this information as well as our website.
Can I get tested for the COVID-19 antibodies?
If you have been in contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19, it is recommended that you get tested for COVID-19 antigen for contact tracing purposes. Please call our office to schedule an appointment for testing and a telehealth visit.
If you have not been in contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19 and you are just interested to know if you have been exposed at some point in time, please know that in Massachusetts, COVID-19 Antigen routine testing is not recommended for the general public. Right now it is limited to specific scenarios. This situation is constantly evolving, so please stay tuned for updates. We are regularly updating our Facebook and Instagram social media accounts with this information as well as our website.
What should I do if I think I’ve been exposed to COVID-19?
Self isolate, check your temperature daily and call our office for a telehealth visit.
How do I arrange testing for COVID-19?
Call the office and tell us about your potential exposure. We will arrange for testing or help direct you to set up testing yourself. We will also set up a telehealth visit to help manage any questions, concerns or symptoms you may be having.
After testing positive for COVID-19, when can I return to work?
We follow CDC guidelines, but recommend that you check with your employer for all occupational health regulations that pertain to your job.
What should I do if I have been in contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19?
If you have been in contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19, it is recommended that you get tested for COVID-19. Please call our office to schedule an appointment for testing and a telehealth visit. After having an exposure to someone with COVID-19, the CDC recommends that you quarantine at home for 14 days. The 14 day quarantine is recommended even if you continue to be without symptoms and your COVID-19 test is negative in order to prevent the asymptomatic spread of COVID-19.
How can I prevent getting infected by COVID-19?
The best way to prevent infection from COVID-19 is to avoid exposure. COVID-19 is spread through respiratory droplets when an infected person coughs, sneezes or talks. Not everyone who is infected with COVID-19 has symptoms. Therefore, you should try to limit your exposure to other people and avoid gatherings. When you are around others, you should stay 6 feet apart, wear a mask, cover your mouth when sneezing/coughing, frequently wash your hands, and disinfect commonly touched surfaces in your home and surroundings.
What are the symptoms of COVID-19 and what should I do if I am experiencing symptoms?
There are many varying symptoms of the COVID-19 virus. Symptoms can range from mild to severe, and some people who are infected may not have any symptoms at all. Symptoms can start 2-14 days after being exposed to the virus. Symptoms include fever, cough, shortness of breath, fatigue, body aches, headache, loss of taste or smell, sore throat, nasal congestion, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, we recommend that you quarantine at home and call the office to make a telehealth visit to discuss your symptoms and testing for COVID-19.
Source: CDC. https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html