Coping with Stress and Staying Connected

Living through a pandemic is hard. Public health actions, such as staying 6 feet apart from other people, avoiding crowds, and avoiding poorly ventilated spaces, are necessary to slow the spread of COVID-19. But they can make you feel lonely, increasing your stress and anxiety.

Stress can cause the following:

  • Feelings of fear, anger, sadness, worry, numbness, or frustration
  • Changes in appetite, energy, desires, and interests
  • Difficulty concentrating and making decisions
  • Difficulty sleeping or nightmares
  • Physical reactions, such as headaches, body pains, stomach problems, and skin rashes
  • Worsening of chronic health problems
  • Worsening of mental health conditions
  • Increased use of tobacco, alcohol, and other substances

It is natural to feel stress, anxiety, grief, and worry during the COVID-19 pandemic. Below are ways that you can help yourself, others, and your community manage stress.

HEALTHY TIPS FOR COPING WITH STRESS

Take a News Break

  • It’s good to stay informed of what’s going on in your community and the world. But constantly hearing about the pandemic can cause you stress.
  • Try to limit watching, reading, or listening to news stories to once a day

Take a Physical Break

  • Take a few minutes to unwind by doing activities you enjoy, such as listening to music or gardening.
  • Take deep breaths and stretch to relieve stress and tension.
  • Meditation can help you relax and calm down. It can also improve your mood. Meditation commonly involves:
    • Getting into a comfortable position (such as sitting or lying down) in a quiet room or place where you won’t be distracted
    • Focusing your attention, such as on a specially chosen word or set of words, an object, or the sensations of the breath
    • Keeping an open attitude by letting distractions come and go naturally without judging them.

Take Care of Your Health

  • Try to eat healthy, well-balanced meals.
  • Don’t drink too much alcohol. Also avoid tobacco products and substance use. Substance use includes using illegal drugs and the improper or unhealthy use of a prescribed or over-the-counter medication.
  • Make time to unwind for the day and get plenty of sleep
  • Continue with routine preventive measures that your health care provider recommends, such as vaccinations and cancer screenings.
  • Get a COVID-19 vaccine when it’s your turn.

STAYING CONNECTED

Being in a pandemic doesn’t mean you have to disconnect from people. There are ways for you to still safely connect with your community:

  • You can connect online, through social media, or by phone or mail.
  • It’s also safe to meet people outdoors while wearing a mask, staying at least 6 feet apart from one another, and avoiding crowds.

Get Interactive

  • Talk often with friends and family whether through a phone call or a video chat app like FaceTime, WhatsApp, or Google Duo. You can find instructions on how to use these technologies on the Internet. Type “how to use ________” in an internet search engine like Google.
  • Join an interactive online discussion group or book club. Or watch livestreams that are interesting to you that have live chats where you can talk directly to people.

Check In on Your Neighbors

  • From a safe distance, check in on your neighbors who live alone to ensure they are okay and spend some time interacting with them.
  • Strike up regular conversations on a set schedule or whenever you can find the time

During times of increased physical distancing, people can still maintain social connections and care for their mental health. The tools mentioned above can help reduce your stress and anxiety and stay connected to your family and community.

If you’re still facing challenges that are stressful, overwhelming, or causing strong emotions, reach out to organizations like How Right Now. This organization was created to address people’s feelings of grief, loss, and worry during COVID-19. This initative offers information and support to help you cope and remain resilient through the COVID-19 pandemic.

FOR MORE INFORMATION ON COPING WITH STRESS

Learn more about coping with stress. Visit the CDC website.

Continue Reading Coping with Stress and Staying Connected

Frequently Asked Questions About COVID-19

Vaccine Safety

Why should I get vaccinated for COVID-19?
COVID-19 can cause serious illness or even death. There’s no way to know how COVID-19 will affect you. And if you get sick, you could spread the disease to friends, family, and others around you, putting their lives at risk. Getting a COVID-19 vaccine greatly reduces the risk that you’ll develop COVID- 19. The vaccines prevent nearly 100% of hospitalizations and deaths due to COVID-19.

Are the COVID-19 vaccines safe?
Yes. The COVID-19 vaccines available in the United States meet the FDA’s rigorous standards for safety and effectiveness. Tens of millions of people in the United States have received COVID-19 vaccines, and all COVID vaccines will continue to be monitored for safety.

Serious health effects from vaccines are very rare. It’s highly unlikely that COVID-19 vaccines will cause long-term health problems. Also, there is no evidence at all that they will cause infertility or cancer.

Your risk for serious health problems is much lower from the vaccine than your risk if you’re unvaccinated and get COVID-19. COVID-19 can leave you with heart and lung damage and other conditions that require long-term treatment. Vaccines are much safer paths to immunity than the disease itself.

How can COVID-19 vaccines be safe since they were developed so fast?
Safe COVID-19 vaccines were developed quickly through the use of a century of vaccine experience; technology that was new to vaccines but had been studied for two decades; a coronavirus vaccine already in development at the National Institutes of Health; and tens of thousands of volunteers for clinical trials that enabled rapid accumulation of data on safety and effectiveness. Simultaneous vaccine production and analysis of testing data also allowed vaccines to be shipped within days of FDA authorization.

Will the shot hurt or make me sick?
No. Some people might get sore muscles, feel tired, or have mild fever after getting the vaccine, but most people report only a sore arm where they got the shot. These reactions mean the vaccine is working to help teach your body how to fight COVID-19 if you are exposed. For most people, these side effects will go away on their own in a few days. If you have any concerns, call your doctor or nurse.

Can the vaccine give me COVID-19?
You can’t get COVID-19 from any of the COVID-19 vaccines in use or being tested in the United States because none of them contains the live virus that causes the disease.

Is it safe for me to get a COVID-19 vaccine if I would like to have a baby one day?
Yes. People who want to get pregnant in the future can receive the COVID-19 vaccine. Experts believe that COVID-19 vaccines are unlikely to pose a risk to a person trying to become pregnant in the short or long term.

Are the COVID-19 vaccines safe for people who are pregnant?
Yes. If you’re pregnant, you may choose to be vaccinated when it’s available to you. There’s currently no evidence that antibodies formed from COVID-19 vaccination cause any problem with pregnancy, including the development of the placenta.

People who are trying to become pregnant now or who plan to try in the future may receive the COVID-19 vaccine when it becomes available to them. There’s no evidence that fertility problems are a side effect of any vaccine, including COVID-19 vaccines. There’s no routine recommendation for taking a pregnancy test before you get a COVID-19 vaccine.

If you have questions about getting vaccinated, talk with your health care provider.

Why are people having allergic reactions to the COVID-19 vaccines?
A few people have had allergic reactions called anaphylaxis after getting a COVID-19 vaccine but were treated and have recovered. Your doctor can help you decide if it’s safe for you to be vaccinated

Are the COVID-19 vaccines safe for people with certain underlying medical conditions?
COVID-19 vaccines may be administered to most people with underlying medical conditions. If you have questions about getting a COVID-19 vaccine, talk with your health care provider. Inform your vaccination provider about all your allergies and health conditions.

Vaccine Effectiveness

How do COVID-19 vaccines work?
Vaccines train your immune system to recognize and fight the virus that causes COVID-19. With vaccines, you can build immunity to a disease without getting the disease.

How effective are the COVID-19 vaccines?
All FDA-authorized COVID-19 vaccines are highly effective at preventing severe illness, hospitalization, and death due to COVID-19, including from the Delta variant.

Remember: You’re not fully protected from COVID-19 unless you’re fully vaccinated.
Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen vaccine requires one dose.
The Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines require two doses.

Why should I get vaccinated if I can still get infected with COVID-19?
It’s important to understand that infection doesn’t necessarily lead to illness. If you’re fully vaccinated against COVID-19 and the virus manages to enter your body and begins to multiply— that is, infect you—your immune system will be prepared to quickly recognize the virus and keep it from doing real damage. That’s why most people who get infected with COVID-19 despite being vaccinated—so-called breakthrough cases—have no symptoms (asymptomatic) or only mild-to-moderate illness.

Nearly everyone in the United States who is getting severely ill, needing hospitalization, and dying from COVID-19 is unvaccinated.

CDC recommends you get vaccinated as soon as you can.

How long do COVID-19 vaccines last?
Scientists don’t know right now how long COVID-19 vaccines protect people, but they are investigating this in medical studies.

Do I need to get a COVID-19 vaccine if I’ve already had COVID-19?
Yes. Scientists don’t yet know how long natural antibodies in people who have had COVID- 19 will be protect them from being reinfected.

Will the COVID-19 vaccines prevent me from infecting others?
COVID-19 vaccines reduce the likelihood that you’ll develop and be able to spread COVID-19. In rare occasions, some vaccinated people can get COVID-19 from the highly contagious Delta variant and spread it to others. Importantly, only a very small amount of spread happening around the country comes from vaccinated individuals.

Do the vaccines work on the new COVID variants?
Scientists continue to study different forms, or variants, of the virus that causes COVID-19 to see if the vaccines will work against them. Current data suggest that COVID-19 vaccines authorized and recommended for use in the United States offer protection against most variants, including the highly contagious Delta variant. For this reason, COVID-19 vaccines are an essential tool to protect people against COVID-19, including illness caused by the new variants. CDC will continue to monitor the impact these new variants may have on how well the vaccines work.

Do I need to wear a mask after getting vaccinated?
If you’re fully vaccinated, you can participate in many of the activities that you did before the pandemic. To maximize protection from the highly contagious Delta variant and prevent possibly spreading it to others, wear a mask inside public places if you’re in an area of substantial or high spread of COVID-19.

If you’re not yet vaccinated, you should continue to:

  • Wear a mask when inside public places.
  • Keep at least 6 feet part from people who don’t live with you and who may not be vaccinated.
  • Avoid crowds.
  • Avoid poorly ventilated spaces.
  • Wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or use alcohol-based hand sanitizer when soap and water are not available.

Vaccinated and unvaccinated people must still follow federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial laws, rules, and regulations. That includes public transportation, airport/airplane, local business, and workplace guidance.

Also, if you have a medical condition or you take medicines that weaken your immune system, you may not be fully protected from COVID-19 even if you’re fully vaccinated. Talk to your health care provider. Even after vaccination, you may need to continue taking precautions.

 

Continue Reading Frequently Asked Questions About COVID-19

Protect Against COVID-19 – Get Vaccinated

The COVID-19 pandemic has caused tremendous disruption in each of our lives. North Hills Family Medicine cares deeply about your health and well-being. That’s why we encourage our patients to get a COVID-19 vaccine as soon as possible. Getting vaccinated can bring you one step closer to enjoying the activities you miss. It is one of the most important things you can do to help protect yourself and your loved ones from this disease. Everyone 12 years of age and older is now eligible to get a COVID-19 vaccination.

Here are some of my answers to questions I’ve heard most often from patients:

  • Why should I get vaccinated? COVID-19 can cause serious illness or even death. There’s no way to know how COVID-19 will affect you. And if you get sick, you could spread the disease to family, friends, and others around you. COVID-19 vaccination is an important tool to help us stop the pandemic and get back to normal.
  • Are COVID-19 vaccines effective at preventing the disease? All COVID-19 vaccines available in the United States are effective at preventing the disease. Getting a COVID-19 vaccine will also help keep you from getting seriously ill even if you do get COVID-19.
  • Are the COVID-19 vaccines safe? COVID-19 vaccines are safe. Over 100 million people in the United States are fully vaccinated. COVID-19 vaccines have undergone the most intensive safety monitoring in U.S. history, and scientists are continuing to monitor their safety.
  • Will the shot make me sick? Will I have side effects? You may have side effects after vaccination, but these are normal signs that your body is building protection. The most common side effects are pain, redness, and swelling in the arm where you got the shot, tiredness, headache, muscle pain, chills, fever, and nausea. If you have these side effects, they should go away within a few days. Serious safety problems are rare. But if you are concerned about them, please contact the clinic.

There are many places where you can get vaccinated, and it’s 100% free. You can

 

Continue Reading Protect Against COVID-19 – Get Vaccinated

COVID-19 Vaccine: Myth vs Fact

MYTH: I will have to pay for the COVID-19 vaccine or I need to have insurance.

FACT: No. All vaccines are free to the public under the CARES Act (Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security). Any charges that are incurred for administration of the vaccine will be paid by your insurance company or the federal government’s Provider Relief Fund. Adapted from: UT Southwester Medical Center.


MYTH:
If I’ve already had COVID-19, I don’t need a vaccine.

FACT: People who have gotten sick with COVID-19 should still receive a COVID-19 vaccine. Currently, we do not know how long natural immunity, or immunity from having COVID-19, will last and it is possible to be re-infected. Additionally, some studies have suggested that the immunity from the vaccine is better protection than the natural protection. Clinical trials will continue to monitor patients over the next 2 years, and we should have additional data in the next 6 months.  Adapted from: American Academy of Family Physicians and John Hopkins Medicine.


MYTH:
The vaccine research was rushed, so it cannot be safe or effective.

FACT: There is a well-established testing and clinical trial process that must be followed for the FDA to consider approving a vaccine. No steps were rushed or skipped in the creation of the COVID-19 vaccines.

Clinical trials for the COVID-19 vaccines were done with the same rigor applied to all vaccine trials, and the results were reviewed and approved by multiple independent advisory panels. Increased collaboration, use of new technology and more funding meant that vaccine developers could work quickly during this pandemic.

For these COVID-19 vaccines, the research was performed concurrently, rather than consecutively, and the wait times for review of the research were substantially reduced through Operation Warp Speed, a federal program that invested in development and manufacturing of the vaccines.  Adapted from: John Hopkins Medicine and UT Southwester Medical Center.


MYTH:
Political factors influenced the vaccine authorization process.

FACT: An independent board of experts reviewed the trial and testing data. Career scientists – not politicians – at the FDA review the clinical trial data after receiving the recommendation from the independent monitoring board. And all of the clinical trial information will also be published in peer-reviewed journals, so the process is transparent and verifiable.  Adapted from: UT Southwester Medical Center.


MYTH:
The COVID-19 vaccines contain a microchip.

FACT: No, the COVID-19 vaccines do not contain any microchip or any electric components. This false rumor started after comments about digital vaccine records. State electronic immunization records help patients and physicians track vaccines they have received. There are no electronic components in the vaccines. The mRNA, lipids (fat bubble), salts and other stabilizing agents are routinely used in other medicines.  Adapted from: American Academy of Family Physicians.


MYTH
: Getting the vaccine gives you COVID-19.

FACT: The vaccine for COVID-19 cannot give you COVID-19. The vaccine for COVID-19 cannot and will not give you COVID-19. The two authorized mRNA vaccines instruct your cells to reproduce a protein that is part of the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus, which helps your body recognize and fight the virus. The COVID-19 Johnson & Johnson vaccine does not contain a live SARS-Co-2 virus, so you cannot get COVID-19 from the vaccine.  Adapted from: John Hopkins Medicine.


MYTH:
The COVID-19 mRNA vaccines can change your DNA.

FACT: No. The vaccines are designed to help your body’s immune system recognize and fight the coronavirus. While messenger RNA does enter your cell to stimulate your immune system, it does not enter the nucleus, where DNA resides.

mRNA vaccines work in the cell’s cytoplasm and never enter the cell nucleus, where the DNA, your genetic material, lives. It’s broken down quickly once it enters the cell and delivers the needed vaccine “message” to the cell’s machinery. The virus spike protein is also rapidly broken down once there is no longer any mRNA. The adenovirus platform uses DNA encoding the spike protein which does enter the nucleus. However, it does not alter the cell’s DNA in any way.  Adapted from: American Academy of Family Physicians.


MYTH:
If I get a COVID-19 vaccine, I will test positive for the virus.

FACT: No. None of the authorized and recommended COVID-19 vaccines cause you to test positive on viral tests, which are used to see if you have a current infection. Neither can any of the COVID-19 vaccines currently in clinical trials in the United States.

If your body develops an immune response to vaccination, which is the goal, you may test positive on some antibody tests. Antibody tests indicate you had a previous infection and that you may have some level of protection against the virus. Experts are currently looking at how COVID-19 vaccination may affect antibody testing results.  Adapted from: Center for Disease Control and Prevention.


MYTH:
The side effects of the vaccine are dangerous and can affect a women’s fertility.

FACT: Most people who received the vaccine had no or little side effect to the vaccine. The most commonly reported side effect was pain at the injection site, fever, and headache lasting a day or two. In addition, the COVID-19 vaccine will not affect fertility. The COVID-19 vaccine encourages the body to create copies of the spike protein found on the surface of the coronavirus. This “teaches” the body’s immune system to fight the virus that has that specific spike protein on it. While there are spike proteins that are involved in fertility, they are completely distinct and would not be affected by a COVID-19 vaccine.

The most common side effect is soreness at the injection site and headache, with most side effects lasting less than 48 hours. The reaction is typically a sign that the vaccine is working – triggering the immune response (or inflammation) indicating your body recognizes this virus and is mounting a protective response against it.

The clinical trials will continue to monitor patients for side effects long after patients are vaccinated.

Confusion regarding infertility arose when a false report surfaced on social media, saying that the spike protein on this coronavirus was the same as another spike protein called syncitin-1 that is involved in the growth and attachment of the placenta during pregnancy.

During the Pfizer vaccine tests, 23 women volunteers involved in the study became pregnant, and the only one who suffered a pregnancy loss had not received the actual vaccine, but a placebo. Getting COVID-19, on the other hand, can have potentially serious impact on pregnancy and the mother’s health.  Adapted from: John Hopkins Medicine.

Continue Reading COVID-19 Vaccine: Myth vs Fact

Now Scheduling Appointments for COVID Vaccine Clinic!

We are currently scheduling appointments for our COVID Vaccine Clinic! It is available to our patients as well as the public, ages 18 and up. To schedule an appointment, please CLICK HERE and complete the form. We will reach out to you via phone once you have been scheduled!

Continue Reading Now Scheduling Appointments for COVID Vaccine Clinic!

Face Covering Required at NHFM

In light of Gov. Greg Abbott’s Executive Order GA-34 lifting COVID-19 restrictions on businesses across the state, NHFM would like to reinforce the importance of masking and other safety measures.

A mask/face covering is still required by everyone entering a North Hills Family Medicine office, even if a person is vaccinated.

While we continue to be encouraged by declining COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations, along with increasing the amount of those that are vaccinated, we cannot ease up now.  We must continue to follow the evidence-based practices that have kept Texans safe over the past year.  With new COVID-19 variants quickly spreading across our communities, masking up, social distancing, and practicing hand hygiene is all the more important to protect each other, help stop the spread and reduce transmission of these mutations.

Thank you for understanding, and for doing your part in protecting our patients, families, and employees.

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COVID-19 Vaccine IS NOW UNAVAILABLE! APPOINTMENTS AT CAPACITY!

VACCINE APPOINTMENTS ARE CURRENTLY AT CAPACITY!  There is no waiting list at this time.  Please check with the local health department to find other providers offering COVID-19 nearby.  Feel free to check our website frequently if we are allocated more vaccines we will update everyone here!!

 

NHFM-NRH location is now offering Moderna COVID-19 vaccine.  We are serving phases 1a & 1b ONLY!

If you are an existing patient please make sure you are registered for the patient portal.  SUBMIT YOUR REQUEST VIA THE PORTAL.

IN ORDER TO SERVE YOU IN A CALMLY MANNER; DO NOT CALL THE CLINIC; SUBMIT ALL REQUEST VIA THE PATIENT PORTAL!

If you are not an existing patient;

  1. Please create & register on the patient portal
  2. Choose Moderna Vaccine as Provider
  3. Schedule a time for vaccination
  4. Send a composed message with your insurance information to staff

You will be required to show proof of your essential role.  Please bring a work badge with you to your appointment.

Continue Reading COVID-19 Vaccine IS NOW UNAVAILABLE! APPOINTMENTS AT CAPACITY!

COVID-19 Vaccines are Coming! Find Out When You Will Qualify

As the COVID-19 vaccines begin to be distributed, Texas has made guidelines of who will be vaccinated first and the projected timeline.  Currently, vaccines are in short supply, but as time passes, more and more will be widely available.

Vaccine allocations are decided by federal and state agencies. We will be receiving our first shipment of the Moderna vaccine and begin vaccinating frontline workers. The initial supplies will be very limited as companies need to supply multiple hospitals, health systems and other organizations who will be vaccinating people. We are in regular contact with those agencies and will be ready as the situation unfolds and more supplies are available.

Frontline healthcare workers are being prioritized by federal and state agencies to receive the vaccine. The most vulnerable patients will be vaccinated next, like those at skilled nursing facilities and those with certain high-risk health conditions.

Determine which of the following categories you fall in to help estimate when you will be vaccinated.

Who’s getting the vaccine first?
Front-line healthcare workers and residents of long-term care facilities are the first Texans to receive the vaccine, starting December. They are considered Phase 1A.

Phase 1A: Health Care Workers Definition

First Tier

  • Paid and unpaid workers in hospital settings working directly with patients who are positive or at high risk for COVID-19. Such as but not limited to:
    • Physicians, nurses, respiratory therapists and other support staff (custodial staff, etc.)
    • Additional clinical staff providing supporting laboratory, pharmacy, diagnostic and/or rehabilitation services
    • Others having direct contact with patients or infectious materials
  • Long-term care staff working directly with vulnerable residents. Includes:
    • Direct care providers at nursing homes, assisted living facilities, and state supported living centers
    • Physicians, nurses, personal care assistants, custodial, food service staff.
  • EMS providers who engage in 9-1-1 emergency services like pre-hospital care and transport
  • Home health care workers, including hospice care, who directly interface with vulnerable and high-risk patients
  • Residents of long-term care facilities

Second Tier

  • Staff in outpatient care settings who interact with symptomatic patients. Such as but not limited to:
    • Physicians, nurses, and other support staff (custodial staff, etc.)
    • Clinical staff providing diagnostic, laboratory, and/or rehabilitation services
    • Non 9-1-1 transport for routine care
    • Healthcare workers in corrections and detention facilities
  • Direct care staff in freestanding emergency medical care facilities and urgent care clinics
  • Community pharmacy staff who may provide direct services to clients, including vaccination or testing for individuals who may have COVID
  • Public health and emergency response staff directly involved in administration of COVID testing and vaccinations
  • Last responders who provide mortuary or death services to decedents with COVID-19. Includes:
    • Embalmers and funeral home workers who have direct contact with decedents
    • Medical examiners and other medical certifiers who have direct contact with decedents
  • School nurses who provide health care to students and teachers

Who’s getting the vaccine next and when?
Phase 1B vaccine recipients will likely be able to get the vaccine starting in January 2021. These include people 65 years of age and older, and people over age 16 with at least one chronic medical condition that puts them at greater risk.

Phase 1B Vaccine Priorities:

  • People 65 years of age and older
  • People 16 years of age and older with at least one chronic medical condition that puts them at increased risk for severe illness from the virus that causes COVID-19, such as but not limited to:
    • Cancer
    • Chronic kidney disease
    • COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease)
    • Heart conditions, such as heart failure, coronary artery disease or cardiomyopathies
    • Solid organ transplantation
    • Obesity and severe obesity (body mass index of 30 kg/m2 or higher)
    • Pregnancy
    • Sickle cell disease
    • Type 2 diabetes mellitus

When can everyone else get the vaccine?
Spring 2021 is the best estimate, but that may change. It depends on vaccine production and how quickly other vaccines become available.

Continue Reading COVID-19 Vaccines are Coming! Find Out When You Will Qualify

COVID-19 Antibody Testing is Now Available

COVID-19 antibody testing is now available. We are currently use the Catalyst Health Network drive-thru testing sites.

The test is done through a blood sample. You will simply drive up to the testing site at your appointment time and remain in your car. A healthcare team member will be with you to draw your blood. We ask that you remain in your car for 5 minutes before driving off to ensure no lightheadedness. Please come well-hydrated and be sitting on the appropriate side of the car with your preferred arm at the window. You do not need to be fasting for this.

The antibody testing detects the presence of the virus and identifies patients who have been exposed to or recovered from COVID-19. The antibody test is different from the molecular COVID-19 test, which is done with a nasal swab to check for the presence of the COVID-19 virus. After infection with COVID-19, the virus antigen stimulates the immune system to produce antibodies that can be detected in the blood. Antibodies are produced by the immune system after a minimum 10 days of infection and remain positive after the infection. This is why the antibody test can be used to detect a past infection with COVID-19.

Below you will find some answers to some of the frequently asked questions.

How to get tested?

In order to document medical necessity, you will need to undergo a virtual telemedicine visit with one of our providers before the test can be ordered. Once this visit is completed, if you qualify for testing, we will arrange a time and location for you to get your blood drawn and one of our testing sites through Catalyst Health Network.

Who should get tested?

  • If you had symptoms (fever, cough, shortness of breath or flu-like symptoms), and want to know whether it was COVID-19 (but should be at least 7 days from onset of symptoms).
  • If you are asymptomatic, but may have potentially been exposed (close or proximate contact with a person known to be positive with COVID-19)
  • Individuals subject to precautionary or mandatory quarantine
  • Individuals employed as a health care worker, first responder, or essential workers who directly interacts with the public
  • Individuals present with a case where facts and circumstances warrant testing as determined by clinician or health officials
  • If you tested Positive for COVID-19 via Nasal Swab PCR – and want to see if you have produced antibodies that can be detected

Who should not take the test?

Those who are actively having symptoms should not be getting an antibody test done, rather a PCR nasal swab should be done.

If you have had symptoms, please wait at least 7-10 days to take the antibody test, counting from the START of your symptoms. Sensitivity is higher 16-29 days onwards. Antibodies take time to develop – taking the test too early may not give accurate results.

Why should I get tested for COVID-19 antibodies?

Patients who are tested and have the antibodies can use this information in a variety of ways. The risk of getting COVID-19 a second time is suspected to be very low. Individuals who are elderly or have underlying health conditions will benefit from understanding their risk so they can make informed decisions about how much isolation or socialization to resume. The COVID-19 antibody test will also provide important data on the scale of coronavirus infections in our community.

DISCLAIMER: The scientific understanding regarding antibody test interpretation needs further research. Recommendations rely on presumptions made based on experience with similar coronaviruses

What should I do if I have missed or am late for my appointment?

Missed or late arrival will result in forfeiting your appointment. It is important to us that you get the testing that your PCP has recommended! Call the Catalyst Hotline at (214) 964-0319 to let our team know that you have missed or are late to your appointment so we can place you back in queue to be rescheduled according to testing site availability.

What is antibody testing, and how does it differ from diagnostic testing used for COVID-19?

Diagnostic testing for COVID-19 involves looking to see whether an active virus is present. This uses a testing process to detect genetic material from the virus in samples swabbed from the very back of the nasal cavity. This testing is based on a common molecular testing technique: polymerase chain reaction (PCR).

By contrast, antibody testing (also called serology testing) is done with blood samples, because you’re looking for evidence of the body’s immune response to the virus.

After your body is exposed to a foreign pathogen, your white blood cells start to learn about it and make antibodies to neutralize it. So, when an antibody test comes back positive for this coronavirus, it means 1) you were exposed to COVID-19 at some point in the past and 2) your immune system was robust enough to launch an antibody-forming immune response.

What antibodies are tested?

IgM and IgG are tested.

When infected by a virus like COVID-19, the body initially produces antibodies known as IgM (immunoglobulin-M), in an attempt to neutralize the virus. Later, as the body’s adaptive immune system revs up, IgM levels go down, and the body ramps up production of IgG, which more specifically targets the viral invader. IgG ideally is what shows us immunity.

How soon after symptoms can antibodies be detected?

Antibodies can be detected as soon as 7 days after symptom onset. After 7 days, antibodies begin to increase. By day 10-12 after symptom onset, antibodies can be detected in up to 80% of patients and by days 16-29 after symptom onset, antibodies can be detected in all patients.

However, you must note that every person is different. Certain conditions can affect people’s ability to make antibodies, such as: malnourishment, having cancer or another chronic health condition, or taking immune suppressing drugs.

How is the antibody testing done?

The COVID-19 antibody test is a simple blood draw. We then send the sample to our lab and will have results in an average of 1-3 days.

What do Negative antibody test results mean?
A negative antibody test can mean one of these possibilities:
1. You were never exposed
2. Your body has not produced enough antibodies to be detected
3. Your body needs more time to produce antibodies after exposure
4. False negatives – testing limitations.
*Note that some studies show that up to 1/3 of people have low-titers or even absent antibodies after recovering from COVID.

We recommend for you to still wear a mask when in public places, wash your hands on a regular basis and continue to practice social distancing

Please discuss the results with your healthcare provider to discuss your risks and if you are contagious to others.

What do Positive antibody test results mean?

The short answer is we don’t know.

Patients with positive antibody results presumably have been exposed and would be considered low risk for becoming infected.

However, it may mean someone has full immunity or partial immunity or no immunity at all. Some antibodies decrease over time, so you might be immune for six months to a year, and then maybe not at all later on. Or, it might mean where if you get it once, you’re most likely immune the rest of your life. There’s just no way to give definitive answers right now.

A positive antibody test does not mean that you are symptoms free and not able to shed the virus. Please consult your healthcare provider when assessing the results of the antibody test.

We recommend for you to still wear a mask when in public places, wash your hands on a regular basis and continue to practice social distancing

Why is it important for people not to assume they’re immune if they test positive for COVID-19 antibodies?

There’s a big difference between telling someone they have immunity versus that they may have immunity. That’s a really important distinction to make. Because if someone says that they’re definitely going to give me a million dollars, I may go out and buy a new house. But if they tell me they may give me a million dollars, I probably won’t, because it’s not a promise. It’s only potential.

With this virus, we just don’t know the answer yet. We can only advise patients that they may have immunity if the antibody test is positive. So, even if you were to test positive for antibodies to the coronavirus, we recommend for you to still wear a mask when in public places, wash your hands on a regular basis and continue to practice social distancing.

What restrictions/downfall does antibody testing have?

Antibody results:

  • are not diagnostic-meaning they cannot be used to diagnose an active infection or tell when a person is no longer contagious.
  • do not rule out infection or viral shedding.
  • are not a guarantee that you will not get COVID-19.

The antibody testing has not been FDA approved, however the FDA has issued an Emergency Use Authorization (EUA).

Continue Reading COVID-19 Antibody Testing is Now Available

NHFM ASKS THAT ALL PATIENTS MUST WEAR A MASK WHILE VISITING THE CLINIC

The CDC continues to study the spread and effects of the novel coronavirus across the United States. We now know from recent studies that a significant portion of individuals with coronavirus lack symptoms (“asymptomatic”) and that even those who eventually develop symptoms (“pre-symptomatic”) can transmit the virus to others before showing symptoms. This means that the virus can spread between people interacting in close proximity—for example, speaking, coughing, or sneezing—even if those people are not exhibiting symptoms.

In light of this new evidence, the CDC recommends wearing cloth face coverings in public settings where other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain (e.g., grocery stores and pharmacies) especially in areas of significant community-based transmission. At North Hills Family Medicine, it is now required that all patients must wear a mask while visiting the clinic.

It is critical to emphasize that maintaining 6-feet social distancing remains important to slowing the spread of the virus. The CDC is additionally advising the use of simple cloth face coverings to slow the spread of the virus and help people who may have the virus and do not know it from transmitting it to others.

The cloth face coverings recommended are not surgical masks or N-95 respirators. Those are critical supplies that must continue to be reserved for healthcare workers and other medical first responders.

Cloth face coverings should—

  • fit snugly but comfortably against the side of the face
  • be secured with ties or ear loops
  • include multiple layers of fabric
  • allow for breathing without restriction
  • be able to be laundered and machine dried without damage or change to shape

Cloth face coverings should not be placed on young children under age 2, anyone who has trouble breathing, or is unconscious, incapacitated or otherwise unable to remove the mask without assistance.

Tutorials can be found here for making a mask at home.

Continue Reading NHFM ASKS THAT ALL PATIENTS MUST WEAR A MASK WHILE VISITING THE CLINIC