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All Posts in Category: Health Basics

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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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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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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How Did I Get Strep Throat?

Having a sore throat is something that’s painful, annoying, and can even get in the way of your daily routine. There’s a difference between your average sore throat and a sore throat caused by strep throat. If you’re suffering from or have suffered from strep throat, you’re probably wondering how you got it in the first place! 

What is Strep Throat?

Strep throat is a bacterial infection that causes sudden onset throat pain and soreness. Strep throat can make it difficult to swallow and bring visible red or white patches to the back of your throat and tonsils. Many patients also report a fever, body aches, and tender lymph nodes. 

Causes

Strep throat is most common in school age children, but it can be spread to anyone. Strep throat is caused by a highly contagious bacteria that thrives in places that have many people in close proximity. The bacteria can be spread through the air when a sick person coughs or sneezes, from surfaces, or through direct contact from one person to another. 

Prevention

There is no vaccine or surefire way to prevent strep throat, but knowledge is key! The best way to help prevent the spread of strep throat is to remain vigilant, especially during the winter and spring time when it’s more common. Good hand hygiene is very important too since you can catch strep throat simply by touching a surface that an infected person has touched. Wash your hands regularly and avoid touching your nose, mouth, or eyes when you’re out in public spaces. You should wash your hands for as long as it takes to sing the ‘Happy Birthday’ song twice over and dry them with clean paper towels or a blow dryer.

If you don’t have access to wash your hands throughout the day, hand sanitizer is a great tool to use!  Remind those around you to always cough and sneeze into the corner of their arm, not the palms of their hands. People suffering from strep throat should stay home from work or school until cleared by their physician after they begin antibiotics. 

If you believe you’re suffering from strep throat, it’s important to get treatment right away. Visit your local urgent care center for care that’s affordable, close to home, and available on a schedule that works for you! Strep throat requires medical attention to heal. Home remedies might relieve certain symptoms, but the infection won’t be cleared without prescription antibiotics.

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How Does a Patient Get an Ear Infection?

Ear infections are a painful and irritating condition that affects both children and adults. The number of ear infections typically increases during the winter and early spring, along with the common cold, flu, strep throat, and more. It isn’t always possible to avoid an ear infection, but it’s still important to know what causes them and what your treatment options are! 

Causes of an Ear Infection

Ear infections occur when a bacterial or viral infection reaches your middle ear. In most cases, an ear infection happens during or after someone is battling another bacterial or viral illness. As the illness spreads, it can reach the middle ear and then stay there, causing an ear infection. The best way to avoid an ear infection is to avoid illnesses like the common cold and flu, but as we all know, sometimes even the best preventative measures aren’t enough to keep those things at bay! 

Ear Infection Symptoms

The symptoms of an ear infection in children are more severe than the symptoms of an ear infection in adults. Common symptoms in children include: 

  • Pulling on ears
  • Ear pain that gets worse when the child is laying down
  • General fussiness and discomfort
  • Fever
  • Fatigue
  • Headache
  • Drainage from the ear
  • Lack of interest in food that may be caused by nausea 

Adults have much more mild symptoms with an ear infection, although they’re still very uncomfortable. Adults most often report ear drainage, pain in the ear, and a headache. 

Treatment Options

Rather you or your child is suffering from an ear infection, getting treatment promptly is important. Many ear infections require antibiotics and ear drops to help clear the infection. If you notice symptoms of an ear infection for more than a day, you have visible ear drainage, or severe pain, you should visit a doctor right away. The best place to go for same-day treatment of an ear infection is a nearby urgent care center. The experienced urgent care staff will be able to evaluate your symptoms, diagnose you, and provide a treatment plan to clear the infection all in one visit. In addition to urgent care treatment and antibiotics, you can use over the counter pain relievers and plenty of hydration to encourage your body to heal. 

Leaving an ear infection untreated could lead to some potentially serious side effects, so it’s always best to go get a professional opinion if you think there’s even a chance you’re suffering from one! 

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Snow Shoveling Safety Tips

Mountains of snow covering sidewalks and driveways force many people out of their homes each winter. For a lot of those people, they’ve been leading a sedentary lifestyle until the snow can’t be ignored anymore. Then, it’s time to pick up a shovel. Shoveling snow is a strenuous and tiring activity, but did you know it comes with some serious health risks too? 

Snow Shoveling Risks 

Snow shoveling poses multiple risks. First, there’s a risk of injury. Injury can occur while shoveling snow due to falling, improper lifting technique, overexertion, and more. The most common snow shoveling related injuries include muscle strains, back injury, head injury, and bone fractures. In addition to those acute injuries, shoveling snow causes a high number of heart attacks each year. Those suffering from a chronic health condition or with a history of heart disease are at a higher risk for heart attack. 

Safety Tips 

Stay safe while shoveling by following these tips!

  • Don’t shovel immediately after consuming caffeine or nicotine – this increases your risk of heart attack when combined with colder temperatures. 
  • Don’t overexert yourself – stop shoveling when you’re tired
  • Take your time
  • Stretch before shoveling
  • Remember to push snow with the shovel, don’t lift it 
  • Spread rock salt or kitty litter to provide traction while you shovel 
  • Don’t shovel at all if you have a history of heart disease. Your risk is too high – ask for health from a friend or neighbor. 
  • Know the signs of a heart attack – common signs of heart attack include chest pressure or tightness, shortness of breath, pain in the left arm or shoulder, sweating, and more. 

If an injury does occur, visit your local urgent care center right away for treatment. If you suffer a hard fall and are unsure if you’re injured or not, it’s always best to go get checked out! If you believe you may be having a heart attack, call 911 right away. 

How Can Urgent Care Help? 

When you’re suffering from a chronic health condition that could lead to a heart attack, getting regular medical care is important. Visit your local urgent care to address any preventative care needs you may have and to assess your current health status. If you suffer an injury or illness that is non-life-threatening, urgent care can help! Don’t forget to bring a list of all current medications and inform our urgent care staff of your entire medical history so we’re able to treat you in the best way possible. 

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