SARS-CoV-2 variant B.1.1.529 (Omicron), first reported to WHO on November 24, 2021, has been designated a variant of concern. Mutations in Omicron might increase transmissibility, confer resistance to therapeutics, or partially escape infection- or vaccine-induced immunity.
While Delta remains the dominant strain in the U.S. at this time, cases of the new variant are expected to ‘dramatically increase’ during the Christmas holidays.
Differing slightly differ from the well-known trio of ‘fever, cough and loss of smell’, the five Omicron symptoms to watch out for are:
Mild muscle aches
The Madison Free Clinic remains committed to helping protect the health of our community. We are pleased to offer rapid PCR tests at no cost for persons age 5 and up who live or work in Madison County. Please give us a call at 540-948-3667 to schedule an appointment (no walk-ins, please).
On November 19, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced that all adults 18 years of age and older are now eligible to get a booster shot. Thanksgiving is a time when we gather, often indoors, with others. This can lead to an increased risk of disease spread, which can be deadly for those who are vulnerable.
Do you need to be tested for COVID-19? If you live or work in Madison County and need to be tested in order to return to work or school, please call us at 540-948-3667 to schedule an appointment (no walk-ins, please).
After being authorized for emergency use in December 2020, Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine is the first in the U.S. to be fully FDA-approved, under the new name, Comirnaty. Learn more about what’s changed now that the vaccine is approved, who’s eligible to get it, and its effectiveness against COVID-19. Then go get vaccinated.
The Madison Free Clinic is no longer offering COVID-19 testing, nor are we providing vaccinations. For up-to-date information, please visit the Rappahannock-Rapidan District of the Virginia Department of Health at https://www.vdh.virginia.gov/rappahannock-rapidan/.
Vaccinations are available at the Madison Health Dept- Every Wednesday from 8-11 & 1-3. If you need assistance by phone, please call 540-308-6072.
Office of the Governor
Governor Northam Unveils Statewide COVID-19 Vaccine Pre-Registration System
~ Virginians can use vaccinate.virginia.gov or call 877-VAX-IN-VA to pre-register for the vaccine and get clear, updated information ~
RICHMOND—Governor Ralph Northam today invited Virginians to pre-register for the COVID-19 vaccine online at vaccinate.virginia.gov or by calling 877-VAX-IN-VA. The Commonwealth’s new, centralized system allows individuals to easily pre-register for the free vaccine, confirm that they are on the waitlist, and learn more about Virginia’s vaccination program.
“Virginians have questions about the COVID-19 vaccines, and these new tools will help them get answers, get pre-registered, and most importantly, get vaccinated,” said Governor Northam. “While our vaccine supply remains limited, we are doing everything we can to acquire more doses and put shots into the arms of eligible individuals in a safe, efficient, and equitable manner. I thank everyone for staying patient and continuing to follow public health guidance so we can mitigate the spread of this dangerous virus.”
Virginia’s new website and call center are designed to streamline vaccine pre-registration by bringing disparate processes from local health departments together under one unified system. Virginians who previously pre-registered for the vaccine through their local health district do not need to sign up again. Those who have already pre-registered have been automatically transferred to the centralized system, and their pre-registration status will not be affected. Data migration will continue throughout the week and it may take several days for everyone to appear in the new system.
Virginia is also launching a new call center for those who prefer to pre-register by phone. The call center is open seven days a week, from 8:00 am to 8:00 pm. It is staffed by 750 live operators who can answer questions about the COVID-19 vaccine and help people get pre-registered. The call center has English- and Spanish-speaking agents, as well as a call-back service in more than 100 other languages. TTY service is available to assist people who are deaf or hard of hearing. If wait times are long, Virginians can choose to get a callback and avoid having to stay on hold. Call volume is expected to be very high during the first week of operation.
To complete your pre-registration, you will be asked to provide some basic information to determine your eligibility. You will not be asked for your social security number or your immigration status. Anyone who pre-registers will receive a pre-registration confirmation and a reference code that can be used to verify that you are still on the waitlist. Individuals can also specify whether they prefer to be contacted by phone, text, or email.
Pre-registration gives Virginians the opportunity to get updates about vaccine availability and to make an appointment when vaccine supply allows—it does not provide immediate access to a vaccine. When you become eligible, you will receive instructions from your local health department on how to schedule an appointment.
More than 12 percent of Virginia’s population has now received at least one dose of the vaccine. Across the country, demand for the COVID-19 vaccine currently far exceeds supply, and it is expected to take several months to reach all individuals who want to be vaccinated. The Commonwealth is prioritizing individuals who are most at risk of contracting COVID-19 and those who work in certain critical industries, based on public health guidelines from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Virginians who qualify for Groups 1A and 1B are currently eligible for vaccinations. This includes health care personnel, residents and staff of long-term care facilities, people age 65 and older, frontline essential workers, those living and working in homeless shelters and correctional facilities, and individuals with underlying medical conditions or disabilities that increase their risk of severe illness from COVID-19.
Underlying health and social inequities put many racial and ethnic minority groups at increased risk of getting sick, having more severe illness, and dying from COVID-19. Racial and ethnic minority groups are also unequally affected by unintended economic, social, and secondary health consequences of COVID-19 mitigation strategies such as social distancing.
“Health equity” means that everyone has the opportunity to be as healthy as possible. Equitable opportunity includes equal access to and distribution of resources. When policies, programs, and systems that support health are equitable, poor health outcomes can be reduced, health disparities can be prevented, and the whole of society benefits.
Madison ranks 58th (out of 133) in the state for overall health outcomes, a situation compounded by lack of access to clinical care (including lack of access to telemedicine via high-speed Internet). Greene ranks 36th, Culpeper 42nd, and Orange 53rd, according to statistics provided by the Robert Johnson Wood Foundation.
Click each link above to learn about underlying health and social inequities that put many racial and ethnic minority groups at increased risk of getting sick, having more severe illness, and dying from COVID-19. Racial and ethnic minority groups are also unequally affected by unintended economic, social, and secondary health consequences of COVID-19 mitigation strategies such as social distancing.
Vitamin D has been promoted as a cure-all. You may have seen headlines claiming that taking vitamin D can help prevent or even treat COVID-19, but there’s no solid science to support that yet. A paper recently published in BMJ Nutrition, Prevention & Health indicated that while everyone should strive to get enough of the vitamin, there’s still a dearth of research showing a beneficial effect on COVID-19.
“There’s no question that additional vitamin D is helpful if someone is low or deficient,” says F. Michael Gloth III, M.D., an associate professor in the division of geriatric medicine at Johns Hopkins University’s medical school. “But no trial has shown any benefit for giving vitamin D in any population that’s already getting enough.”
But there’s a connection between vitamin D levels and the risk of respiratory infections in general. The vitamin plays many roles throughout the body. “It supports a range of antiviral responses,” says Adrian Martineau, Ph.D., a clinical professor of respiratory infection and immunity at Queen Mary University of London. It boosts the ability of lung cells to fight bacteria and viruses, among other things, he says.
As always, please consult a healthcare professional before making major dietary changes.
Living with diabetes—a disease in which the body doesn’t properly process glucose, or sugar, from food—has always been complicated.
But the arrival of the coronavirus has multiplied those challenges. As a result, many of the estimated 34 million Americans with diabetes (about 1 in 10 people) and 88 million with prediabetes (about 1 in 3 adults) may now be fighting for their lives in more ways than one.
Testing for both COVID-19 and diabetes is available at no cost to Free Clinic Patients. Call us at 540-948-3667 to schedule an appointment.
In this special report on diabetes + COVID-19, Consumer Reports says people with diabetes and those who are at risk for it are far more likely to experience severe complications if they become ill with the coronavirus.
Flu season will look different this year, as the country grapples with a coronavirus pandemic that has killed more than 234,000 people. Many Americans are reluctant to visit a doctor’s office and public health officials worry people will shy away from being immunized.
Although sometimes incorrectly regarded as just another bad cold, flu also kills tens of thousands of people in the U.S. each year, with the very young, the elderly, and those with underlying conditions the most vulnerable. When coupled with the effects of COVID-19, public health experts say it’s more important than ever to get a flu shot.
Flu shots are available at no charge for all Free Clinic patients. Call us at 540-948-3667 or 540-729-4373 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org for an appointment. Not a Free Clinic patient, or need to renew your application? You can do that right here Patient Application/Renewal
It might seem far-fetched that a vaccine designed to protect against one infection could protect against others, too. But a growing body of research suggests that this does, in fact, occur through a process called “trained innate immunity.” Vaccines are known to work by stimulating the adaptive immune system, causing the body to make antibodies that can recognize and attack a specific pathogen if it is encountered again. But recent studies suggest that some vaccines also train the body’s faster-acting and less specific innate immune system, improving its ability to fight off many kinds of infections.
U.S. health officials are urging Americans to get their flu shots this year in the hopes of thwarting a winter ” twindemic”-a situation in which both influenza and COVID-19 spread and sicken the public. But a new study suggests that there could be another key reason to get a flu jab this year: it might reduce your risk of COVID-19.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warned yesterday that the coronavirus spreads more readily than it had previously stated, after briefly posting and then removing a draft of the same advisory last month. The new guidance warns that in indoor settings with poor ventilation, contagion can spread via microscopic aerosol particles well beyond the 6-foot social distance many Americans have been observing.
A group of infectious-disease physicians and aerosol experts, in a letter published Monday in the journal Science, more strongly emphasized the airborne potential of the virus than the CDC did in its update.
COVID-19 testing is available free of charge for Free Clinic patients. Please call us at 540-948-3667 for more information.
The update officially acknowledges growing evidence that under certain conditions, people farther than six feet apart can become infected by tiny droplets and particles that float in the air for minutes and hours, and that they play a role in the pandemic.
If you are between the ages of 18-64 and need a 2022 Influenza vaccination, please give us a call at 540-948-3667 to schedule an appointment. This service is free and open to those who live or work in Madison County, regardless of income or insurance status.