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Why Flu Shots Are Still Important during the Pandemic

Flu season exists for a reason. Unfortunately, it does not stop just because the world is currently fighting a pandemic. Viruses spread year-round, but most of the flu activity peaks between December and February. Before that season begins, make sure that your body is prepared for it. Get your flu vaccine as early as October to give your body enough time to respond to the vaccine. 

Since COVID-19 is still here and will not go away anytime soon, you must make yourself healthier. Staying healthy is the best defense your body can do to avoid any virus from wearing out your body. This one little move could be the protection that your body needs against any destruction. 

Every winter, hospitals get more patients due to the cold season and the flu. If you do not want to be part of this patient volume, get vaccinated for the flu as early as you can.

Who Should Get Flu Shots?

According to the Centers for Disease Control, anyone aged six months onwards should get their respective flu vaccines. The most vulnerable people are encouraged to participate in this call. If you belong to the following groups, you should prioritize getting flu shots as soon as possible:

  • You are a child or someone aged 65 and above
  • You have respiratory illnesses
  • You have lower immunity due to certain diseases

If your health condition is at a severe level, it would be best to consult and get your doctor’s approval first. When you take care of yourself through this small action, you have a high chance of not getting the flu during the flu season. 

How to Get Your Flu Vaccine

There are many ways you can get your flu vaccine. Here are some of them:

1. Get Your Flu Shot During Your Annual Wellness Exam

If you take a wellness exam annually, you can schedule it from October onwards and secure your flu vaccine by then. Make sure that you inform your doctor or anyone from the clinic ahead. You can also register your vaccine during your child’s vaccination schedule. Just make sure to notify all concerned parties beforehand. 

2. Request for a Vaccination Schedule

If you have no scheduled appointment with your health center, you can also secure an appointment for this purpose alone. Book a schedule with your clinic ahead so they can prepare and secure the vaccine for you. If you plan to have the whole family get the flu shots, notify your clinic in advance about the number of people you intend to bring. 

Is It Safe to Get Both COVID-19 and Flu Vaccine?

One of the biggest concerns in people’s heads is both vaccines’ safety, especially when mixed. However, there is no problem at all. Getting the COVID-19 and flu vaccine at the same time is considered safe. 

The mix does not result in long-term side effects and does not alter the vaccine’s effectiveness. However, you have to be familiar with the side effects that each vaccine could give you. For example, some people experience chills or headaches upon receiving their COVID-19 vaccine, but these eventually disappear. 

Mixing the two does not make these side effects worse either. They are natural effects of your body developing immunity against a virus. 

Conclusion

People have no complete control over how the virus spreads and even on how it exists, but there are small steps you can take to protect yourself, your family, and your loved ones from experiencing the worst from it. Getting flu shots is one of the many steps. Listening to authority and following health protocols are another. If you have not taken your flu vaccine yet, consider scheduling one soon.

Aspen Medical Center is a locally-owned urgent and primary care medical facility located in Santa Fe and Espanola. We offer state-of-the-art services, which include flu shots for all. Call us at 505-657-1799 to book an appointment. 

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The Concept of Herd Immunity in the Age of COVID-19

For almost two years now, the world has concentrated on efforts and urgent care for the coronavirus pandemic. Vaccinations are currently ongoing across the globe, and many doctors and healthcare workers hope to finally overcome the virus or achieve herd immunity.

However, there are still many issues around the globe when it comes to proper pandemic response. Most countries’ conditions are still less than ideal for treatment and containment. If only vaccination or effective treatment and response were as simple as getting a PCR test in Santa Fe today.

We have to look at other facts to gauge worldwide response. It will at least give us a real update to know when we can see good statistics on its elimination. Or at least a dramatic decline of the virus.

The Reality of Today’s COVID-19 Pandemic

Vaccination remains the top priority in the effective elimination of the virus. Second, three key treatment methods are coming in for a COVID swab test, quarantining, and proper treatment of emerging symptoms. These are the primary pandemic responses in place to know who are carriers and separate them from the general populace for treatment.

Once a primary care doctor sees a positive result for the coronavirus, treatment is made ASAP. Many advanced treatments are in place, whether it’s for a mild or a severe case. The main goal is both isolation and successful treatment to contain the virus and avoid spreading it further.

Ultimately, by consistently carrying out these pandemic solutions, we can dramatically decrease active carriers until positive cases are eliminated. Vaccinated citizens can start outnumbering potential carriers until a very few percentages of the world’s population only has the virus. Up until the point where only patients in treatment will carry it until each case is successfully treated.

Herd community is a possibility in many countries with advanced vaccination programs. But the whole world is still trying to catch up, with many variations of the virus spreading anew. These alarming developments have to be consistently worked on as they can affect the progress we’ve made so far.

Can the World Achieve Herd Immunity?

We can achieve freedom from COVID by dramatically reduced COVID-19 infections and herd immunity through mass vaccinations. Herd immunity works when these two conditions are met, resulting in an extreme decline in cases.

The first condition still poses many difficult issues around the world. Ideally, we want a percentage decline where 90 percent or more of the world’s population are tested, treated, or vaccinated, leaving 10 percent or less to worry about for treatment. A far more realistic approach in real herd immunity is still with mass vaccinations. A perfect example can be seen with the earliest measles outbreak. It was resolved by an effective measles vaccine treatment, with 95 percent of the population successfully vaccinated. These are the rare instances we can say that herd immunity is achieved and the world has successfully beaten the virus.

Final Thoughts

As with any severe case of illness, you have to fight it with the proper response and treatment. COVID-19 has shown us that many health systems are in place to address it—in this case, isolation and preventive measures help contain it. Fast and appropriate medical responses are crucial in the effective treatment and further spread of any illness. 

Aspen Medical Center offers urgent and primary care physicians in Santa Fe who provide prompt and appropriate medical attention. We accept new and walk-in patients for the same level of treatment for everyone, including weekends and evening appointments, seven days a week. Get in touch right away for any urgent medical needs.

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Healthcare Advice: How Urgent Should COVID-19 Testing be

All the news about vaccination programs can be harmful to the public, especially in states and regions that are still struggling with a surge in cases. For people who have not been vaccinated yet, it’s important to observe precautionary measures whenever interacting with individuals outside their household.

Limitation in testing efforts have been due to the shortage of equipment from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). A year into the pandemic, more local and state health departments are more equipped to handle the influx of patients who want to receive COVID-19 testing. Because of this, it’s not an individual’s initiative to know whether they should get tested or not.

Getting COVID-19 testing due to the rise of new COVID-19 variants

 Besides being a mandatory requirement for official procedures and transactions, getting tested for COVID-19 becomes tricky if you’re unsure of your exposure to the virus. Effective testing is necessary not just for yourself but also for others’ safety. Unfortunately, the recent surge in COVID-19 variants can make it dangerous to get tested unless you’re sure you need one.

Thankfully, the CDC has adjusted its recommendations on who should receive COVID-19 testing. Besides people showcasing symptoms of COVID0-19 with a healthcare provider’s recommendation, asymptomatic patients can get tested if they’ve been exposed to people with a confirmed condition. This revised guideline helps your local community reinforce contact tracing methods since it’s vital to rack asymptomatic and pre-asymptomatic transmission. In turn, this allows authorities to document and notify necessary communities.

Deciding when to get COVID-19 testing

Due to the fluctuating incubation period of COVID-19 infection, there’s no direct time that defines when you should get COVID-19 testing. In most cases, a person with the virus can test positive for up to five days at most after contracting it. For this reason, you could test negative for the first three days of infection before COVID-19 symptoms start to manifest. Since it takes three to five days for symptoms to develop, the CDC notes that it’s best to be cautious with engaging with individuals outside your household for up to 14 days.

Receiving results from your COVID-19 test

Many patients can get their test results within 24 hours. However, this largely depends on the healthcare facilities’ capacity at the time. At worst, it may take two weeks before you can receive the results of your test. This is why it’s vital for individuals suspected of having COVID-19 avoid interacting with others or leaving their household whenever possible. During a self-isolation period of two weeks with no noticeable symptoms, it may be safe to assume that you’re free from COVID-19 or didn’t have it at all. However, the line separating the two can be the difference between being a threat to yourself and others.

Different cities and states have unique testing systems, which is why it might be easier or harder to schedule a COVID-19 test. It’s best to consult with your local authorities and healthcare providers to get a clear timeline of your wait time and expected appointment in light of recent events.

Conclusion

Vaccination is only part of the nation’s healing process, and it doesn’t replace the value of getting tested for COVID-19. For this reason, it’s necessary for unvaccinated individuals, and even vaccinated ones, to remain cautious of their actions and interactions with others. Determining your need to visit a reliable healthcare center should be your priority if you’re developing symptoms of any illnesses.

Aspen Medical Center is a locally-owned outpatient medical facility that offers state-of-the-art services for your healthcare needs. If you need to receive immediate COVID testing in Santa Fe, contact our office today.

Coronavirus PSA

We are living in trying times. There is a global pandemic that is ravaging the world. The illness is called Coronavirus Disease 2019 or COVID-19 for short. This virus causes an upper respiratory illness but can attack the lungs. It can cause fever as well as cough or shortness of breath, among other symptoms.

The last time the world experienced a pandemic of this scale was probably the 1918 flu pandemic also know as the Spanish flu, so likely no one alive today remembers a time like the one we are living in now. It is a reminder that life is fragile and we are all connected. When this virus first appeared in Wuhan, China in December 2019, no one on earth was immune to it as far as we know. It can infect anyone. Some people have mild symptoms or possibly no symptoms at all, but a significant number of people are becoming critically ill and many people are dying from this virus. It is likely many more will die before this pandemic is over. Hospitals in places like northern Italy have become overwhelmed by this pandemic and it is likely to continue to spread to other regions and get worse around the world before it gets better.

At Aspen Medical Center, we care about your health and safety. We are doing everything in our power to try to prevent the spread of the virus and yet still provide essential medical services. We are cooperating with our state and local authorities and following recommended protocols and guidelines. We are closely monitoring nation-wide and global trends and we continue to gather information constantly. We are allowing employees to work remotely from home when possible. We are using appropriate personal protective equipment or PPE in our clinics. And we continue to follow intensified infection control protocols. We are screening prospective patients over the phone or if they come to our locations and we are sending high risk patients immediately for testing at one of our local state-designated testing sites or to the ER if appropriate. The Governor of New Mexico, Michelle Lujan Grisham, has agreed to waive all copays and costs to patients for testing and treatment related to COVID-19. We are prepared to meet whatever challenges come our way in these uncertain and ever-changing times.

We are now offering telemedicine. Telemedicine is a way to get a virtual visit with a health care provider. Secure video chat technology is used and we can conduct medical interviews, do counseling, perform a limited physical evaluation, and if necessary order labs, make referrals, or prescribe medications electronically to the pharmacy of the your choice. This allows us to continue to provide needed medical services but prevent the spread of the virus by providing care remotely. We can provide these services for people who have chronic ongoing medical needs, people who have acute medical needs, and even people who think they might be infected with this virus.

Also, we have temporarily closed Aspen Wellness. So Rachel Ropp, DOM, is not currently doing acupuncture but she still has Chinese herbs available for her patients who wish to purchase them.

During this time of a global infectious pandemic, it is important for all of us to do our part in protecting ourselves and everyone else. What are some of the things you can do?

  • Wash hands frequently with soap and water for at least 20 seconds
  • Try not to touch your eyes, nose, and mouth
  • Do not go to work or school if you are sick
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze and then throw away the tissue
  • Practice social distancing (in general try to maintain a distance of at least 6 feet from other people)
  • Avoid non-essential travel (avoid shopping trips and social visits when possible)
  • Reach out to people remotely through email, calling them up, texting, or through social media
  • If you or your child get sick, contact your medical provider or call us at Aspen (505-466-5885 in Santa Fe or 505-747-6939 in Espanola)

At this time, we do not know what the future will bring. What I do know is that at Aspen Medical Center, we will continue to do our best to provide health care, for both chronic care and urgent care needs, to the population of northern New Mexico at both our Santa Fe and Espanola locations. We will continue to do everything in our power to keep our community as safe and healthy as possible

Seasonal Flu or Influenza Symptoms and Treatment

Influenza or “the flu” is a contagious viral respiratory infection.  It is spread from person to person and can cause mild to severe symptoms.  Flu symptoms usually come on suddenly and often include:  fever over 102°F, stuffy nose, nausea, chills and sweats, fatigue, muscle aches, cough, headache, and loss of appetite.  Flu symptoms usually last for one to two weeks.

Coughs are one of the most common symptoms of childhood illness and should not be confused with the flu. Although a cough can sound awful, it’s not usually a sign of a serious condition as long as they do not “whoop” after prolonged episodes of coughing or having fits of coughing that are so severe that they can’t stop to catch their breath. Continue reading