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Who Can Get the COVID-19 Vaccine?

It is the goal of federal, state, and local healthcare agencies that the vaccine for COVID-19 will soon be available to the general public. The vaccine will stop the spread of the Coronavirus, decrease cases of death, and help establish herd immunity to protect those who cannot receive the vaccine. In order for this to happen vaccine distribution must be available at pharmacies and doctor’s offices. The public is waiting and wondering when they will be able to receive this vital vaccine. But in order to make the limited supply of the vaccine effective, there are several guidelines that must be followed.

How Will the COVID-19 Vaccine be Distributed?

Public health organizations have expressed caution about how the vaccine will be distributed to the public. Vaccines must be distributed in an order that protects the most vulnerable citizens by establishing guidelines to roll out the COVID-19 vaccine. These guidelines set milestones that will ensure the effectiveness of the virus for the overall population.

Because vaccine supply is limited, the CDC establishes recommendations based on information from the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP). This panel of experts consists of medical and healthcare experts.

It is the goal of the CDC that if state and local health governments follow these recommendations there will be a decrease in deaths and serious illness with COVID-19. These guidelines also protect our most vulnerable including those with pre-existing illness, the elderly, and healthcare workers.

Who Will Get Access to the COVID-19 Vaccine Next?

The latest recommendations from the CDC were given on December 22, 2020. Recommended phases are as follows.

Phase 1B

This phase would include vaccination distribution to frontline workers including firefighters, police, correctional officers, manufacturing workers, grocery and retail workers, and educators.

This phase also includes those over 75 years of age who are at risk of developing severe complications from coronavirus 2019.

Phase 1C

This phase would include those who are ages 65-74 who are also at risk of severe complications from COVID-19. This would include those ages 16-64 with underlying medical conditions. As well as other essential workers, including those who work in transportation, food service, construction, law, and public health and safety workers.

For More Information

It is the goal of the CDC that soon everyone will have access to the vaccine at their local pharmacies. COVID-19 vaccine supplies are increasing, but still limited, making it imperative that all guidelines are followed by health officials.

Each state has constructed its own plan for vaccine distribution with this guidance from the CDC.. Please contact your local health department to determine your states current phase of vaccine distribution so that you can protect yourself.

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Patient Eligibility for the COVID-19 Vaccine in Maryland

As of now, a plethora of hospitals and healthcare providers in the State of Maryland are administering COVID-19 vaccines like Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna according to the State’s distribution plans.

As a result of this, people in Phases 1a, 1b, and 1c are receiving vaccines. Hospitals all over the State are distributing the COVID-19 vaccine to patients according to the specific criteria of each phase. Let’s find out who are eligible for COVID-19 in each phase:

The Different Vaccine Phases

These are as follows:

1.     Phase 1a

Phase 1a is the initial phase that covers the following:

  • Health care workers
  • Nursing home residents and staff
  • First responders
  • Public Safety Personnel

These are the first people to receive the COVID-19 vaccine in the State of Maryland.

2.     Phase 1b

On January 18, the State of Maryland’s criteria for phase 1B reads as follows:

  • People of ages 75 and above
  • People residing in senior living facilities
  • People who are dealing with intellectual/developmental disabilities. It also accounts for those residing in developmental disabilities health group institutions.
  • Government workers
  • K-12- both public schools and nonpublic ones- teachers, support staff, childcare providers, and higher educational institutions.

3.     Phase 1c

As of February 1, Maryland’s eligibility criteria for receiving the Covid-19 is as follows:

  • Adults between the ages 65 and 74
  • Health care workers lacking coverage in Phase 1a include lab services, public health and vaccine manufacturing, etc.
  • Higher education institutional front line employees may contact students residing in residence halls, facilities maintenance, campus police, or the dining hall.
  • Essential workers present in critical manufacturing, food and agriculture production, clergy, U.S postal service, grocery stores, support staff, public mass transit, veterinarians, and those in places of worship.
  • Direct support professionals taking care of those with intellectual or developmental disabilities
  • Those with ongoing treatments in hospitals include people diagnosed with cancer, end-stage renal disease, sickle cell disease, solid organ transplant recipients, diabetes, or chronic pulmonary disease.

Where Can I Get COVID-19 Vaccine?

Hospitals and healthcare providers are administering COVID-19 vaccines based on rules set by the State. You can visit the State of Maryland’s vaccination website to learn more about the nearest area where you can get the COVID-19 vaccine.

Currently, the State of Maryland is allowing people meeting the criteria of each phase to access the COVID-19 vaccine. Phase 1c is designed for people aged 64 to 75, whereas Phase 1b is available for those older than 75 years.

Each phase allows an array of other groups like essential workers, front-line educational workers, those living in senior living facilities, and those with disabilities, among many others, to gain easy access to the COVID-19 vaccine.

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What is Causing My Sore Throat?

Have you ever felt an uncomfortable, burning, and rusty feeling in your throat? Well, if you have, that’s a sore throat. Sore throats are among the most common health conditions that usually occur due to cold weather conditions, cold/flu, or poor environmental conditions. Sore throats are treatable and go away within a few days if you take proper care. If you want to learn more about the reason for that annoying sore throat, go through the factors that cause sore throat mentioned below.

Factors that Cause a Sore Throat

1.      A Bacterial Infection

Bacterial infections are quite common, and when our body suffers from one, we usually wake with a sore throat. Sore throats are the main symptoms that showcase a bacterial infection, especially that of streptococcus bacteria. This troublesome type of bacteria infects your throat and tonsils. Infections such as Chlamydia, STI’s and tonsillitis can cause sore throats.

2.      An Injury

If you have has a neck injury or a cut on your neck, you may experience a sore throat. Sometimes, throat injuries can occur because you strained your vocal cords excessively during signing or speaking.

3.      Viral Infections

Viral infections, such as cold or flu, are quite common, especially during the winter. According to a study, 90 percent of sore throats derive from viruses such as a cold, chickenpox, influenza, flu, measles, and mumps.

4.      Chemicals in the Environment

Many of us suffer from exposure to different chemicals in the environment, most of which we aren’t even aware of. The number of chemicals we encounter can also depend on our profession or workplace. These chemicals and other irritants irritate the throat, leading to a sore throat. Smoking and chemicals from string cleaning products also are a common cause of sore throats.

5.      Allergic Reaction

Many people struggle with different allergies to substances such as pollen, pet dander, and grass. When you expose your body to an allergen, it instantly makes your eyes watery, gives a sore throat, and deal with excessive sneezing.

Now that you’re aware of the factors that cause a sore throat, you should stay alert and careful, avoiding particular circumstances that could lead to the horrible feeling of a sore throat. This is an easily treatable condition, so there is nothing to worry about. Nevertheless, if it gets worse, make sure to contact your doctor immediately!

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How Are Colleges Staying Safe During COVID-19?

Staying safe during COVID-19 is no small task. Employers and schools have had to make major changes to protect their employees, students, and communities. Those challenges are hard enough, but what about colleges and universities that hundreds of thousands of students depend on? College students can’t just put their studies on hold until a COVID-19 vaccine is developed, but how are they being protected when they return to class? There is no one-size-fits-all answer to that question, but let’s discuss some of the most important aspects of safety at college in 2020. 

COVID-19 Testing and Screening

Colleges should have COVID-19 testing options available to their students and staff. Some colleges are also utilizing other screening methods, such as temperature checks, before attending classes. If students are living on campus, they may be asked to get a COVID-19 antibody test before moving in. Antibody testing shows that you were previously exposed and have developed an “immunity” to COVID-19, although it’s unclear how long that immunity lasts. 

Backup Plans

All colleges should be prepared for last minute changes and have a backup plan for their students and staff to follow in the event of an increase in the number of COVID-19 cases in the area. Backup plans should include distance learning, closing on-campus housing, and smaller class sizes. If a college is not already requiring the use of masks on campus, they may need to in the future. 

Increased Cleaning Efforts

The cleaning and sanitization efforts have been increased at college campuses across the US. High-touch surfaces and common areas need to be sanitized multiple times per day and lecture halls/classrooms should be cleaned between each group of students. The amount of sanitization will come at an added cost to the colleges, but it’s an essential part of protecting their students and staff members. Cleaning efforts should extend to on-campus housing, restaurants, and transportation. 

Before returning to college, contact the school to get a detailed list of what they’re doing to stay safe during COVID-19. If you are considered a high-risk individual, utilizing distance learning may be the safest option for you. Remember to wash your hands, wear a mask, socially distance, and stay informed on COVID-19 cases at your college campus. If COVID-19 testing isn’t available on-campus, find an urgent care center near you and get tested whenever you feel the need! 

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The Most Common Seasonal Illnesses in the Fall Season

2020 has led most people to become more aware of their health and the potential for getting sick. Despite COVID-19 lasting all year long in 2020, each season does have its own set of common seasonal illnesses too. The changing leaves and cooler weather are proof that fall is officially here, but do you know what illnesses to watch for? 

Seasonal Allergies and Asthma

When you think of seasonal allergies you probably think of blooming spring flowers and trees but fall comes with its own set of allergy and asthma triggers. Ragweed is a very common allergen that thrives in the fall. Dust mites and mold are stirred up in the home as furnaces are turned on for the first time in months, which irritate allergies even more. Allergy and asthma sufferers are likely to experience: 

  • Runny or stuffy nose
  • Itchy eyes
  • Watery eyes
  • Cough
  • Wheezing
  • Sinus pressure

Allergies and asthma can be well managed with a combination of prescription and over the counter medications with the help of a medical professional. 

The Flu 

Influenza is the most notorious fall and winter illness. Flu season comes around each fall and continues well into the winter, but since we know this, it’s fairly easy to prevent! Getting a flu shot is a very effective way to lower your risk of getting the flu. If you do get the flu after getting a flu shot, your symptoms will last for a shorter period of time and be less severe. Handwashing and avoiding close contact with others are also important in preventing the spread of the flu. 

SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder) 

Seasonal affective disorder, also known as SAD, is something that many people struggle with, but few reach out for help to deal with their symptoms. SAD is brought on by shorter days and less sunlight that begins during the fall months. SAD leads to symptoms of depression which can cause difficulty sleeping, eating, and performing other daily tasks. SAD can be improved with a variety of treatment methods once a patient reaches out for help. If you begin to notice a shift in your mood as the days get shorter, don’t hesitate to speak with a medical professional! Battling seasonal affective disorder is nothing to be ashamed of and is not caused by anything you did, it’s simply a result of the changing seasons. 

To get quick, effective, and affordable care for your seasonal illnesses, visit a local medical provider today! You can walk-in or schedule ahead and receive all the care you need, when you need it. Urgent care centers can provide a flu shot during your visit, so you’ve got one less illness to worry about! 

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Should You Expect a Second Wave of COVID-19?

Experts are concerned that a second wave of COVID-19 could take place in the U.S. The fear of a second wave is real considering that the virus is still around, there is no vaccine and the easing of restrictions poses a risk of contributing to new cases of the coronavirus infection. A rush to reopen too soon and relaxing social distancing guidelines, reluctance to take serious measures to control the spread of the disease and a lack of the required capacity to accommodate more testing and conduct contract tracing are all factors that can contribute to a second wave. The first wave of COVID-19 has not yet ended, and a second wave cannot begin until that happens. What will happen is a “wait and see game” even as experts fear the worst.

COVID-19 Cases are Spiking Instead of Reducing

While the U.S  is seeing a lower number of deaths during this point in the COVID-19 pandemic,  the number of new cases of infections has increased.  Reopenings have many people feeling excited about the chance to go out and enjoy some of the activities that they normally participate in. This is despite the fact that there is no COVID-19 vaccine currently, which means people are still in a vulnerable position in a pandemic that is still going on. Reopenings were mean to be done with caution, taking into account preventative measures to limit transmission of the coronavirus infection, but many people are not practicing social distancing as they move about and interact, wearing a mask, and exercising proper hand hygiene. This lack of adherence to precautionary measures has led to a jump in the number of COVID-19 cases, especially in places where the numbers were not alarming when the pandemic first hit.

Ways to Prepare For a Second Wave

Is there a way to prepare for a second wave of COVID-19? Those working in the healthcare sector should be ready for an increase of COVID-19 infections, and that involves ensuring that there is an adequate supply of equipment, PPE included, and a continued effort to follow policies or guidelines that will protect both patients and staff from coronavirus infection.

You can do the following to be ready for a second wave:

  • Continue practicing physical distancing, frequent hand-washing, and wearing a mask as you go throughout your daily life.
  • Know how to contact local health authorities to get updated information regarding COVID-19, such as an increase in the number of new cases in your region.
  • Have two weeks’ supply of food in your home, along with prescription medication
  • Stay on top of vaccinations, especially for children, and ensure that everyone in the home gets their flu shot at the right time.

The best way to prepare for a second wave of COVID-19 is to take precautions that will limit your risk of exposure. Visit Centennial Medical Group for COVID-19 diagnostic and/or antibody testing, as well as telemedicine screenings that are safe and convenient. Come see us today for the quality care that you deserve.

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Frequently Asked Questions About COVID-19 Diagnostic & Antibody Testing

COVID-19 testing has developed as the pandemic has continued, with more accurate swab testing and antibody testing available to detect a past infection with the virus. Whether or not you have exhibited symptoms of the virus, getting tested may be on your mind as you prepare to return to your workplace and states begin to reopen. We understand that you may have questions about testing, the different available tests and when to get tested. Learn more about testing and who is qualified!

Antibody Testing

Antibody testing is a blood test that detects the presence of antibodies in your blood. Your blood sample is sent to a private lab and evaluated to look for signs of protein or antibodies in your immune system. A positive test indicates past infection or exposure with the virus, even if you have not experienced any symptoms. The full power of the antibodies is still unknown and continuing to be studied. Even if you have antibodies, it is still important to continue following local and state health and safety guidelines.

Diagnostic Testing

Diagnostic swab testing is used to detect and diagnose an active case of COVID-19. A swab is taken of the lower nasal cavity and then brought to a lab for testing. The test takes only a few moments and is virtually painless. Results are available in two days.

What’s the Difference? 

The primary differences between diagnostic and antibody testing are how the sample is taken and what the test tests for. A diagnostic test will not show if you have antibodies from a previous exposure, while antibody testing will not identify a current case of COVID-19. Both tests require processing and analysis in a lab for accurate results.

How Long Does Testing Take? 

Both diagnostic and antibody testing results take about 2 business days to get back from the time the blood or nasal swab is taken. The process is quick, but until you get results back, you should still take all precautions recommended by the CDC and World Health Organization, as well as the state of Maryland. This includes wearing a protective mask or face covering, practicing social distancing and washing your hands regularly, especially after spending time in public areas.

COVID-19 Diagnostic Swab & Antibody Testing

If you are interested in learning more about or undergoing COVID-19 testing, visit Centennial Medical Group and First Call Urgent Care! We will be able to answer your questions and provide efficient testing, with results in only a couple of days. For more information, please call  410-730-3399.

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Frequently Asked Questions About COVID-19 Antibody Testing

As states and local businesses prepare to reopen, patients may be looking for more information about whether or not they have been exposed to COVID-19. Between the relatively young age of the virus and the high number of positive cases where the patient has not exhibited symptoms, much information is still being researched and determined. By getting tested for COVID-19 antibodies, you will be able to determine if you have developed an immune response against the virus. 

What is done during an antibody test?

An antibody test detects the presence of antibodies, which is formed after an infection. Antibodies are an immune response to an illness or virus that can be found through a simple blood test. In order to get tested for COVID-19 antibodies, you must visit Centennial Medical Group. Please wear a mask when visiting our center for testing. 

What do my test results mean?

A positive antibody test result indicates that you have been exposed to COVID-19 and have developed an immune response to the virus. Research is still being conducted to determine whether or not that indicates immunity to further infection. If you test positive for COVID-19 antibodies, you should continue to follow local health and safety guidelines including wearing a mask or protective face covering in public areas and social distancing.

A negative antibody test indicates no exposure to COVID-19 and that you have not developed antibodies for the virus.

Differences between COVID-19 Diagnostic & Antibody Testing

COVID-19 diagnostic testing is used to detect and diagnose the active COVID-19 virus. Testing is performed by taking a swab of the lower nasal cavity, which takes only a moment and is painless for the patient. Results are typically available within three days. Antibody testing is performed by taking a blood sample and can only determine if there has been a past infection. The test detects the presence of antibodies formed about ten days after an infection has healed. Due to this, it is recommended you wait between ten and fourteen days after symptoms subside to get tested for COVID-19 antibodies. It is important to note that while you may get a negative result back from your antibody test, you may have been exposed in the days leading up to your test. 

COVID-19 Antibody Testing in Elkridge & Columbia, MD

If you are preparing to return to your workplace and are unsure if you have been exposed to COVID-19, visit a local urgent care center for testing.

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Why is My Bronchitis Getting Worse

Bronchitis is a type of illness that occurs when your bronchial tubes become inflamed and irritated. Your bronchial tubes are responsible for moving air in and out of your lungs, so it’s needless to say they’re very important. Bronchitis causes painful coughing, shortness of breath, chest tightness, and other uncomfortable symptoms for those suffering. If you have bronchitis that’s continuing to get worse instead of better, don’t give up hope just yet! 

If you need Bronchitis care, please contact Centennial Medical Group right away for treatment options that are available.

Bronchitis Causes

Bronchitis is most commonly caused by an upper respiratory infection, such as the common cold. The virus causing the cold travels through your body, and in some cases, inflames, and irritates the bronchial tubes. Bronchitis can also be caused by environmental irritants, although this is less common. 

Acute vs Chronic

There are two different types of bronchitis and understanding the difference is very important. 

  • Acute – acute bronchitis is the type that’s caused by a viral or bacterial infection in your body. Acute bronchitis typically lasts 1 to 2 weeks, but a lingering cough may last up to 90 days. 
  • Chronic – chronic bronchitis is most often caused by irritants, such as smoking or being exposed to secondhand smoke. To be diagnosed with chronic bronchitis you have to have bronchitis for at least 3 consecutive months for two consecutive years. 

What’s Making it Worse?

When bronchitis continues to get worse instead of better, it’s frustrating for the patient. There are a few things that could be making your bronchitis worse. If you have acute bronchitis that’s getting worse, you could have an infection that requires antibiotics. Most cases of bronchitis clear up on their own, but not all of them. if you have any underlying health conditions, you’re at a higher risk to have bronchitis that can’t go away on it’s own. For chronic bronchitis sufferers, your symptoms will continue tog et worse if you’re exposed to the irritants that caused the bronchitis in the first place or if you’re suffering from COPD. 

Treating Bronchitis

Bronchitis is treated on a case-by-case basis because everyone is different. If you’re suffering from acute bronchitis, you can stay home to see if symptoms improve. You need to seek immediate medical care if you have trouble catching your breath or the coughing gets so severe it keeps you up at night. 

Get treated for your bronchitis at a nearby urgent care center for convenient, affordable, same-day care! 

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Where in the US is Coronavirus a Potential Risk

COVID-19 is a global pandemic that has shaken people across the world. After originating in Wuhan, China, the virus has rapidly spread around the globe. International travelers carried COVID-19 to their home countries, despite airport screenings and travel restrictions. Now that the virus is in America people are wondering, what states are at risk? 

If you’re looking for more resources please consult the CDC for information about COVID-19 prevention, news updates, and how to stay safe during this time.

Where has COVID-10 Spread?

Coronavirus has been confirmed in 46 states and the Dominican Republic. The first cases were linked directly to international travels, but now person to person cases have begun to pop up. Some COVID-19 cases have even been diagnosed when there is no known contact with another infected individual, which makes this virus truly a widespread threat. The coronavirus is here and in almost every state, so it’s safe to say that everyone is at a potential risk. 

Who’s at the Highest Risk?

Certain people are at a higher risk of contracting Covid-19 and suffering more severe symptoms. The groups at the highest risk include: 

  • Elderly 
  • Immunocompromised people 
  • People suffering from underlying medical conditions – diabetes, cancer, heart disease, lung disease, etc. 

Anybody can catch the coronavirus, even if they aren’t considered high risk. Young, healthy people may carry the virus without knowing and spread it to people in at-risk groups. 

What You Can Do

Since the coronavirus is spreading across the nation, what can you do? At this point the biggest focus is on slowing the spread of the virus so our healthcare system is able to keep up and offer treatment to those who need it. You can help prevent the spread by: 

  • Covering your mouth when you cough or sneeze 
  • Practice social distancing – avoid close contact with others, especially in large groups
  • Wash your hands regularly and thoroughly 
  • Avoid touching your face 
  • If there’s a chance you’ve been exposed to COVID-19, self-quarantine for 14 days
  • Remain calm – creating mass panic leads more people to hoard food, supplies, and medication they may not need. We’re equipped to handle the virus, but only if everyone remains calm. 

If you believe you have coronavirus, do not go to the ER or urgent care. Test kits aren’t readily available and visiting the ER or urgent care just exposes other patients and healthcare workers to the possibility of the virus.

Stay home, call your primary care provider or health department, and avoid contact with people until you’ve been advised otherwise. Seek medical attention if you have difficulty breathing or a high fever that won’t break with over the counter medications. 

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