Kids & COVID-19

When can your kids safely return to school after a positive COVID-19 test?

It’s true fewer children have been sick with COVID-19 when compared to adults, but children can still be infected with the virus, get sick from it and spread it to others, even when they have no symptoms (asymptomatic). If you have or think you or your child might have COVID-19, it is important to stay home and away from other people both outside and inside the home. As much as possible, keep sick members of the family away from well members of the family, especially those that are more likely to become severely ill from COVID-19. Staying away from others when you are sick helps stop the spread of COVID-19. But just how long does a child need to quarantine and when can they return to school? The timing of when your child can return to school/camp/daycare/work after they had COVID-19 symptoms or exposure depends on the situation. Read on for advice from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) on when it’s safe to return to normal life (or normal pandemic life).

If your child has current symptoms of COVID-19 but did not get tested; They may return to school, camp, daycare or work when:

  • It has been 10 days since symptoms developed AND
  • 24 hours with NO fever (without using any medications) AND
  • Symptoms such as cough and congestion are improving

If your child tested positive for COVID-19; They may return to school, camp, daycare or work when:

  • It has been 10 days since symptoms developed AND
  • 24 hours with NO fever (without using any medications) AND
  • Symptoms such as cough and congestion are improving

We do not recommend testing without symptoms but in some cases, this is a requirement. If your child tested positive for COVID-19 and has NO symptoms; They may return to school, camp, daycare or work when:

  • It has been 10 days since the test was performed
  • IF during this time period ANY symptoms develop (fever, cough, congestion, vomiting or diarrhea) please follow the information above on when they may return to school, camp, daycare or work.

If your child had COVID-19 symptoms and tested negative for COVID-19; They may return to school, camp, daycare or work when:

  • 24 hours with NO fever (without using any medication)
  • Other symptoms are improving

If your child has been in close contact with someone who tested positive for COVID-19, but your child has not been tested OR has tested negative;

Anyone who has been in close contact with someone who has COVID-19 needs to quarantine. What counts as close contact?

  • Your child was within 6 feet of someone who has COVID-19 for at least 15 minutes
  • Your child lives at home with someone who is sick with COVID-19
  • Your child had direct physical contact with the person (touched, hugged, or kissed them)
  • Your child shared eating or drinking utensils
  • They sneezed, coughed, or somehow got respiratory droplets on you

Steps to take: Stay home and monitor your health.

  • Stay home for 10 days after your last contact with a person who has COVID-19 to be sure you don’t develop symptoms. Contact your pediatrician if symptoms develop. (The local Health Department may recommend 14-day quarantine).
  • Continue to watch for fever (100.4°F), cough, shortness of breath or other sick symptoms that may concern you about your child, until 14 days after exposure date.
  • When possible, continue to wear a mask, stay 6 feet from others, especially people who are at high risk for getting COVID-19, avoid crowds, wash hands frequently.

If your child has symptoms of COVID-19 or has been exposed to someone that tested positive for COVID-19, contact your pediatrician for testing and next steps.

COVID-19 Vaccine Myths & Facts

The development of the COVID-19 vaccine brings hope that we will soon be able to hug loved ones, greet people without a mask and meet friends for dinner. While the COVID-19 vaccines available have been proven safe and effective at preventing COVID-19, it’s understandable that there may be some apprehension around getting the vaccine. We’re here to help sort out the myths from the facts, so you can confidently get your vaccination and move toward an end to the pandemic.

Visit ihacares.com/covid19 for the latest COVID-19 vaccine updates and frequently asked questions .

Source: Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC)

The COVID-19 vaccine offers hope for the future, but for now ending this pandemic will require all the available tools. Your best defense against COVID-19 is the combination of the vaccine, wearing a mask, social distancing and continuing to wash your hands.

If you have symptoms of COIVD-19 or have been exposed, save your spot at one of our testing locations.

Toy Buying Tips

Pediatrician-approved gifts for every child.

The official kickoff to holiday shopping is just days away. Before you check-off your child’s wish list, check-out some pediatrician-approved gifts that every kid will love!

Pretend.

When a child is given the freedom to play without rules or guidelines, their imagination will take over. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) said it best: “Pretending through toy characters (such as dolls, animals, and action figures) and toy objects (like food, utensils, cars, planes, and buildings) help children learn to use words and stories to imitate, describe, and cope with real life events and feelings. Imagination is the key here! Imaginary play is a large part of a child’s social and emotional development.”

Pretend Shopping List:

  • Play kitchen with accessories (food, utensils, plates, etc.)
  • Vehicles (diggers, cars, emergency vehicles, planes, etc.)
  • Dress-up clothing and accessories
  • Microphone
  • Chalk board

Assembly required.

A simple puzzle holds so many benefits for a young mind – problem-solving, fine motor, language and cognitive skills. Looks for age and developmentally appropriate building blocks, puzzles, train tracks.

Assembly Required Shopping List

  • Building Blocks
  • Puzzles
  • Train tracks
  • Magnet tiles

Art

It’s amazing to see what kids are capable of without restrictions. Consider give an art basket to build their creativity and fine motor skills.

Art Shopping List:

  • Crayons/Markers/Color Pencils
  • Age appropriate paints
  • For older children, encourage them to try new media like oil pastels, chalk pastels, ink, etc.
  • Blank sketch books (try different sizes, large and small)
  • Glue
  • Kid-friendly scissors
  • Clay
  • Art accessories: pipe cleaners, pom poms, tissue paper, stickers and anything else you can think of!

Skip the video games.

There are educational apps and video games that work to teach the ABCs, but what they are missing – creative thinking, emotional development and impulse control – are much more important factors in the healthy development of your child. According to the AMA, Research suggests tablet-based toys may actually delay social development for infants and young children, because they don’t include real life facial expressions, gestures, and vocalizations.

Skip the Video Games Shopping List:

  • Match games
  • Card games
  • Board games
  • Age and interest appropriate Books
  • Magazine subscription
  • Busy board with a variety of locks and latches

Play!

Especially in the winter months, getting physical activity is so important – for kids and grown-ups alike! Not only does it help to develop good habits for later in life, but being physically active also holds benefits for emotional health.

Play! Shopping List:

  • Hula hoop
  • Sports gear (football, baseball, basketball – choose based on what interests your child)
  • Twister
  • Indoor bowling set
  • Yoga mat paired with child appropriate exercise classes or DVDs
  • Roller blades (don’t forget the helmet and pads)
  • Gym shoes
  • Push and riding toys for little ones just walking

This post was originally published November 2019.


IHA Urgent Care locations are open on holidays! Don’t spend your holiday waiting in a waiting room. Save your spot in line at an Urgent Care location near you and wait at home.

Virtual Care at IHA

Communication tips for the best virtual patient experience

The COVID-19 pandemic has forced many industries to rethink how they deliver services to the public. The medical field is no different. Virtual Care, or healthcare via phone, video or email, offers access to timely medical care without leaving home or entering a waiting room in-person. This format is new to a lot of patients, so we pulled together our providers recommendations for a successful telehealth medical appointment.  

  • Practice using the technology. Download the platform (IHA providers use Zoom) ahead of your appointment time. Then, make sure it works! Virtual appointments require both video and audio. Ensure your device meets the requirements, know how to join your video appointment and do so a few minutes early.
  • Consider using headphones with a microphone for better sound and privacy.
  • Know where to go to troubleshoot any issues that come up.  Logging on early will give you an opportunity to work out issues before your provider joins the conversation. Visit ihacares.com/resources/video-appointments for information on video appointments with an IHA provider.
  • Find a quiet space where you can focus on your conversation with your provider. Discourage interruptions by putting a sign on your office door or tell those around you it’s not a good time to interrupt.
  • Eliminate distractions before your appointment begins – do not login for your video appointment from the car, cafeteria, bathroom, or while making dinner.
  • Consider your background. Try to minimize natural light by not sitting in front of a window. The glare can make it difficult for your provider to see you in your video.
  • Bring a flashlight along to your appointment if you have a skin issue such as a lesion or rash to help your provider your skin. Measure the are prior to the appointment if possible.
  • Confirm your insurance coverage and copays for telehealth appointments. Virtual appointment coverage varies based on insurance companies, so be sure to confirm your personal coverage ahead of time to avoid unexpected bills.
  • Treat a virtual appointment as you would an in-person appointment. Have relevant health history and treatments at your fingertips and come prepared with your questions or concerns. Write them down beforehand if possible.
  • If you would have brought someone else with you to your in-person appointment, have them sit with you, virtually or in-person if you are living with them, for your virtual appointment. It can be helpful later to have a second person listening and even taking notes. They may hear something you miss or come up with a question you may not have thought of.
  • If you use medical devices on a regular basis (blood pressure monitor, heart monitor, thermometer, glucometer, etc.), have them close at hand during your virtual appointment. Or better yet, take readings prior to your call or video appointment.

When it comes to healthcare, we understand patients have individual needs and one size doesn’t fit all! So we offer several ways to access care – Actually 5!

Allowing patients to get care in a way that works best for them is what we’re all about. Click below to schedule your appointment, your way.

Managing Anxiety

How does anxiety look & feel during a pandemic?

by Alberto Nacif, MD

Pandemics can be stressful. Holidays and elections can be stressful. Virtual school, social distancing and not seeing friends and loved ones can be stressful too. All these things together can be a recipe for anxiety. Anxiety and fear can feel overwhelming for both adults and children alike. Sometimes it can be hard to identify anxiety or understand the strong emotions that can come along with anxiety, especially for children.

What does anxiety look and feel like?

  • Fear and worry about your own health and the health of your loved ones, your financial situation or job, or loss of support services you rely on
  • Changes in sleep or eating patterns
  • Changes in behavior
  • Difficulty sleeping or concentrating
  • Worsening of chronic health problems
  • Worsening of mental health conditions
  • Increased use of tobacco, and/or alcohol and other substances

What do you do when feeling anxious?

Being there for and taking care of family and friends is important but you should create a healthy balance with caring for yourself too. Here are some tips from the Centers for Disease Control on coping with the stress that comes with living through a pandemic.

  • Know what to do if you are sick and are concerned about COVID-19. Contact a health professional before you start any self-treatment for COVID-19.
    • If you think you may need a COVID-19 test, save your spot at an IHA testing location: ihacares.com/saveyourspot
  • Know where and how to get treatment and other support services and resources, including counseling or therapy (in person or through telehealth services).
  • Take care of your emotional health. Taking care of your emotional health will help you think clearly and react to the urgent needs to protect yourself and your family.
  • Take breaks from watching, reading, or listening to news stories, including those on social media. Hearing about the pandemic repeatedly can be upsetting.
  • Take care of your body.
  • Make time to unwind. Try to do some other activities you enjoy.
  • Connect with others. Talk with people you trust about your concerns and how you are feeling.
  • Connect with your community- or faith-based organizations. While social distancing measures are in place, consider connecting online, through social media, or by phone or mail.
  • Make time for quiet. If you find comfort in prayer or meditation, make time to incorporate this quiet time into your day. As little as 10 minutes can make a difference in your anxiety level. 

Quick tips for taking control of your anxiety.

  1. Take control of your breathing. Try square breathing: breathe in through your nose, pause, breathe out through your mouth and pause, counting to four at each step. Watch Alberto Nacif, MD give instructions on square breathing here: https://bit.ly/2Izy1aL
  2. Tighten and relax your muscles. In areas where you feel physical tension tighten your muscles and then relax them. 
  3. Go to your happy place. Yes! It does exist! Think of a time or a place in your life where you felt at ease, happy or at peace. Focus on the positive feelings associated with this moment in time.

Know when it’s time to seek medical professional help.

If stress or anxiety get in the way of your daily life several days in a row, it may be time to contact your primary care provider. There are many resources available for managing these feelings and your provider can help you find the best fit for you.

Celebrating Thanksgiving During COVID-19

Traditional Thanksgiving gatherings with family and friends are fun but can increase the chances of getting or spreading COVID-19 or the flu. Please be sure to follow the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) orders to make your Thanksgiving holiday safer and to help stop the spread of COVID-19.

The safest way to celebrate Thanksgiving this year is to celebrate with people in your household. If you do plan to spend Thanksgiving with people outside your household, take steps to make your celebration safer.

Wear a Mask

  • Wear a mask with two or more layers to stop the spread of COVID-19.
  • Wear the mask over your nose and mouth and secure it under your chin.
  • Make sure the mask fits snugly against the sides of your face.

Stay at least 6 feet away from others who do not live with you.

  • Remember that some people without symptoms may be able to spread COVID-19 or flu.
  • Keeping 6 feet (about 2 arm lengths) from others is especially important for people who are at higher risk of getting very sick.

Wash your hands.

  • Wash hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
  • Keep hand sanitizer with you and use it when you are unable to wash your hands.
  • Use hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.

Attending a gathering.

Make your celebration safer. In addition to following the MDHHS order, consider these additional steps while attending a Thanksgiving gathering:

  • Bring your own food, drinks, plates, cups, and utensils.
  • Avoid going in and out of the areas where food is being prepared or handled, such as in the kitchen.
  • Use single-use options, like salad dressing and condiment packets, and disposable items like food containers, plates, and utensils.

Hosting a gathering.

If having guests to your home, please limit the number of people based on the MDHHS order. Additional ideas that can make your celebration safer include:

  • Have a small outdoor meal.
  • Have conversations with guests ahead of time to set expectations for celebrating together.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces and items between use.
  • If celebrating indoors, make sure to open windows.
  • Limit the number of people in food preparation areas.
  • Have guests bring their own food and drink.
  • If sharing food, have one person serve food and use single-use options, like plastic utensils and plates.

Consider new Thanksgiving activities.

Host a virtual Thanksgiving meal with friends and family who don’t live with you

  • Schedule a time to share a meal together virtually.
  • Have people share recipes and show their turkey, dressing, or other dishes they prepared.

Watch television and play games with people in your household

  • Watch Thanksgiving Day parades, sports, and movies at home.
  • Find a fun game to play.

Shopping

  • Shop online sales the day after Thanksgiving and days leading up to the winter holidays.
  • Use contactless services for purchased items, like curbside pick-up.
  • Shop in open air markets staying 6 feet away from others.

Other Activities

  • Safely prepare traditional dishes and deliver them to family and neighbors in a way that does not involve contact with others (for example, leave them on the porch).
  • Participate in a gratitude activity, like writing down things you are grateful for and sharing with your friends and family.

Safe travel tips for college students.

There is no universal approach to Thanksgiving this year for colleges and universities. Though some are encouraging students to stay on campus for the holiday, others are allowing them to go home for the long Thanksgiving weekend. Still more are sending students home to begin their winter break or finish their semesters remotely.

Take the risk seriouslyYoung people have been identified as sources of some family outbreaks, infecting their older, more vulnerable relatives who live in the same household. Experts also point out that travel could increase students’ risk of exposure to the virus, and that holiday celebrations held indoors could facilitate transmission.

Self-quarantine and get testedIn the days before leaving campus, students should be tested, preferably with a PCR test, the laboratory test used to diagnose the coronavirus. Many colleges and universities have been regularly testing their students, and some have rolled out special guidance for holiday travel.

Source: Centers for Disease Control


Save Your Spot for drive-up COVID-19 testing at select IHA Urgent Care locations 

During this pandemic, feeling sick can be scary. If you have symptoms like fever, cough, or shortness of breath, it is important to get tested for COVID-19. You should always contact your doctor with questions or concerns, but having test results will help with their recommendations for your care. 

IHA offers convenient drive-up COVID-19 testing for new and established patients. We offer both PCR and Rapid tests. Your provider will determine which test is best for you based on your symptoms. Rapid testing is not always recommended. Do not go to your local IHA Urgent Care or emergency department for COVID-19 testing. 

Patients in need of a COVID-19 test, please be aware:
1. You must have an appointment. Save Your Spot at one of our COVID-19 testing locations below.
2. Testing is being prioritized for symptomatic patients and patients who have had a high-risk exposure.
3. COVID-19 test results usually take 24 to 72 hours to return, but due to recent significant increases in testing – results are taking up to 5 days.
4. If you are not experiencing COVID-19 symptoms or have not had a high-risk exposure, please visit Michigan.gov to find an alternate testing location. 

Breast Cancer Basics

Understanding Signs, Symptoms and Risk Factors

by Tara M. Breslin, MD

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month and a great time to spread the word about the importance of breast health all year long. Breast cancer is one of the most common forms of cancer diagnosed in the United States, typically in women, but it occurs in men as well. In 2020 alone, an estimated 276,000 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer. Most of these new cases will occur in women older than 50, but 10% will occur in women younger than 45. Recognizing the warning signs of breast cancer and early detection will mean more treatment options and a better chance of being cured.

Be aware of changes in your breasts

  • Lump in the breast or underarm
  • Bloody discharge from the nipple
  • Indentation or retraction of the nipple area
  • Change in breast size
  • Rippling (flattening or indentation) of the skin covering the breast
  • Crustiness or rash of the nipple or areola

What to you do if you notice a new symptom

Stay up-to-date with breast screenings

Regular screening for breast cancer is done before there are any signs or symptoms and is the best way to find cancer early when it’s easier to treat. The first step(s) of screening for breast cancer typically include mammogram and/or a patient’s awareness of changes in their breast.

  • Self-Awareness: Conduct regular and frequent self-exams of your breasts. Become familiar with your breasts, so you aware of, and able to, recognize changes right away.
  • Clinical Breast Exam: This exam is done in a clinical setting, by a physician who will use their hands to look for lumps or changes in your breasts.
  • Mammogram: An x-ray of the breast and the best way to detect cancer early. A screening mammogram is done for asymptomatic women, a diagnostic mammogram is done for women with a new symptom or mammographic abnormality.

A mammogram found something suspicious, now what?

If your doctor finds something concerning on your mammogram, the first step would be diagnostic imaging to further characterize the area.  This may include: diagnostic mammogram, ultrasound, MRI.

  • Biopsy: a small sample of cells or tissue is removed and reviewed under a microscope to determine if cancer is present. There are a variety of ways to perform a biopsy. Talk to your physician about the options available to you, if you require a biopsy.
  • Diagnostic Mammogram: an X-ray test used to diagnose unusual breast changes, such as a lump, pain, nipple discharge, change in breast size or shape or previous breast cancer. If your screening mammogram does show an abnormality, you may need additional imaging like a diagnostic mammogram.
  • Breast Ultrasound: Using sound waves to produce images of the internal structures of the breast, the breast ultrasound can help a physician determine if a mass an abnormality is more likely a solid mass or fluid-filled cyst.
  • MRI: The MRI uses magnets and radio waves to produce images of the breast. These images provide more information and details than other tests. Your physician may recommend a breast MRI for you if your biopsy results were positive for cancer or if you’re considered high risk for breast cancer. The breast MRI is intended to be used along with a mammogram, not as a replacement.

Who would be considered high risk for breast cancer?

As a person ages, their risk of being diagnosed with breast cancer increases, but there are a few other risk factors that you cannot change:

  • Age: Most breast cancers are diagnosed after age 50.
  • Genetics: Inherited changes (mutations) to certain genes, such as BRCA1 and BRCA2. Women who have inherited these genetic changes are at higher risk of breast and ovarian cancer.
  • Dense Breasts: Dense breasts have more connective tissue than fatty tissue, which can sometimes make it hard to see tumors on a mammogram. Women with dense breasts are more likely to get breast cancer.
  • Personal History of Breast Cancer: Women who have had breast cancer are more likely to get breast cancer a second time. Some non-cancerous breast diseases such as atypical hyperplasia or lobular carcinoma in situ are associated with a higher risk of getting breast cancer.
  • Family History of Breast Cancer: A woman’s risk for breast cancer is higher if she has a mother, sister, or daughter (first-degree relative) or multiple family members on either her mother’s or father’s side of the family who have had breast or ovarian cancer. Having a first-degree male relative with breast cancer also raises a woman’s risk.

Understanding the signs and symptoms of breast cancer and your risk factors is important for every woman and man. If you have questions or concerns about your breast health, schedule an appointment with an IHA Breast Surgeon.

Trick-or-Treat

COVID-19 means a more frightful Halloween

By Martha Walsh, MD, MHSA, FACOG

Halloween and everything that surrounds it – trick-or-treating, costume parades, bobbing for apples – are fun, but can spread COVID-19 or other seasonal infections, like influenza. While celebrating Halloween this year will look very different from every other year, there are still ways to enjoy all that Halloween has to offer, while protecting yourself and your family from picking up a virus.

Giving Out Candy

  • Avoid direct contact with trick-or-treaters
  • Give out treats outdoors, if possible
  • Set up a station with individually bagged treats for kids to take
  • Wash hands or use hand sanitizer before handling treats, and in between trick-or-treaters
  • Wear a cloth mask

Trick-or-Treating

  • Wear a mask
    • Make your cloth mask part of your costume
    • A costume mask is not a substitute for a cloth mask
    • Do NOT wear a costume mask over a cloth mask. It can make breathing more difficult
    • Masks should NOT be worn by children under the age of 2 or anyone who has trouble breathing
  • Wash your hands
    • Bring hand sanitizer with you and use it after touching objects or other people
    • Use hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol
    • Parents: supervise young children using hand sanitizer
    • Wash hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds when you get home and before you eat any treats
  • Stay at least 6 feet away from others who do not live with you
    • Indoors and outdoors, you are more likely to get or spread COVID-19 when you are in close contact with others for a long time

Make sure you are always doing the following. Every. Single. Day.

  • Wear a mask
  • Stay 6 feet away from anyone that does not live with you – indoors and outdoors
  • Wash your hands or use hand sanitizer frequently

If you decide not to take your kids trick or treating this year, here are some ideas how you can enjoy Halloween safely.

  • Decorate and carve pumpkins
    • Decorate your home for Halloween.
    • Carve pumpkins with members of your household or outside with neighbors or friends.
    • Walk from house to house, admiring Halloween decorations at a distance.
  • Visit an orchard, forest, or corn maze. Attend a scavenger hunt.
    • Go on an outdoor Halloween-themed scavenger hunt.
    • Visit a pumpkin patch or orchard. Remember to wash your hands or use hand sanitizer frequently, especially after touching frequently touched surfaces, pumpkins, or apples.
    • Go to a one-way, walk-through haunted forest or corn maze.
  • Other Ideas
    • Hide Halloween treats in and around your house. Hold a Halloween treat hunt with household members.
    • Hold a socially distanced outdoor costume parade or contest so everyone can show off their costumes.
    • Host a socially distanced outdoor Halloween movie night with friends or neighbors or an indoor movie night with your household members.

Flu Before Boo!

Protect yourself and your family during flu season by getting your flu vaccine before Halloween. Scheduling your flu shot is easy! Click below and choose an appointment time that works for you.

Source: Centers for Disease Control

Flu Vaccine FAQs

Source: Centers for Disease Control (CDC)

Flu season is here, which means Flu SHOT season is also here. Getting a flu vaccine this fall will be more important than ever, not only to reduce your risk from flu but also to help conserve potentially scarce health care resources in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.


What are the benefits of the flu vaccination?

Receiving the flu vaccines reduces flu illnesses, sick appointments, hospital stays, and missed time from work or school. It can also be lifesaving for high risk patients like children, seniors, and pregnant women.

Can the flu vaccine give me the flu?

The viruses in the flu shot are killed (inactivated), so you cannot get the flu from a flu shot. However, you may experience some minor side effects like, soreness, redness or swelling at the shot site, a low-grade fever, and some aches.

For those that receive the nasal spray, the viruses are weakened and do not cause severe symptoms often associated with influenza illness. Side effects from the nasal spray may include, runny nose, sore throat, cough, wheezing, headache, vomiting, muscle aches, or fever.

Who should get vaccinated this season?

Everyone six months of age and older should receive a flu vaccine at the beginning of the flu season, typically every fall.

Who should not be vaccinated against seasonal flu?

A patients age, health or allergies may determine they should not receive the flu vaccine. Talk with your physician to ensure you or your children should receive the flu vaccine.

Should a flu vaccine be given to someone with a suspected or confirmed case of COVID-19?

No. Vaccination should be deferred (postponed) for people with suspected or confirmed COVID-19, regardless of whether they have symptoms, until they have met the criteria to discontinue their isolation. While mild illness is not a contraindication to flu vaccination, vaccination visits for these people should be postponed to avoid exposing healthcare personnel and other patients to the virus that causes COVID-19. When scheduling or confirming appointments for vaccination, patients should be instructed to notify the provider’s office or clinic in advance if they currently have or develop any symptoms of COVID-19.

Additionally, a prior infection with suspected or confirmed COVID-19 or flu does not protect someone from future flu infections. The best way to prevent seasonal flu is to get vaccinated every year.

Why should I get my child vaccinated?

The flu is dangerous for all people, but children under five years old are at an especially high risk when they get sick with the seasonal flu. The flu vaccine is your children’s best defense against contracting and spreading the flu.

When should I get a flu vaccine?

For people receiving one dose of the flu vaccine, the Centers for Disease Control recommends that people get the flu vaccine by the end of October. If your child requires two doses, they will need to be given four weeks apart, so chat with your pediatrician on the best time to give the first dose. Getting the vaccine in the summer months may result in reduced protection later in the flu season, especially for high risk patients.  There are benefits to receiving the flu vaccine later in the season, so it’s never too late to be vaccinated!

How effective is the flu vaccine?

The patient’s age and health status will determine the effectiveness of the flu vaccine, as well as how well the flu in the vaccine matches the flu circulating in your community. The CDC estimates that the flu vaccine reduces the risk of flu illness by between 40% and 60% among the overall population, when the seasonal flu circulating is well-matched with the flu vaccine. 

Besides vaccination, how can people protect themselves against the flu?

Getting the flu vaccine every year is your best defense against the flu. People should also take preventive actions every day. These include, frequently washing hands, covering coughs using the inside of your elbow, not your hand, and avoid having contact with people who are sick (even if they haven’t been diagnosed with the flu).

Where can I get the flu vaccine?

This year’s flu shot is available at IHA Primary Care and Ob/Gyn practices and pediatric doses are available at IHA Pediatric practices. Adults and children may receive the flu shot at any IHA Urgent Care location. Click below to schedule your flu shot.

Can the flu vaccine prevent COVID-19?

No, the flu vaccine cannot prevent you from becoming infected with COVID-19. You and your family should continue practice CDC recommendations to minimize your risk of contracting COVID-19, including, wearing masks outside of your home, social distancing and frequent hand washing.

What is the difference between Influenza and COVID-19?

Influenza (Flu) and COVID-19 are both contagious respiratory illnesses, but they are caused by different viruses. COVID-19 is caused by infection with a new coronavirus (called SARS-CoV-2) and flu is caused by infection with influenza viruses. Because some of the symptoms of flu and COVID-19 are similar, it may be hard to tell the difference between them based on symptoms alone, and testing may be needed to help confirm a diagnosis. Flu and COVID-19 share many characteristics, but there are some key differences between the two.

There are some key differences between flu and COVID-19. COVID-19 seems to spread more easily than flu and causes more serious illnesses in some people. It can also take longer before people show symptoms and people can be contagious for longer. Another important difference is there is a vaccine to protect against flu. There is currently no vaccine to prevent COVID-19. The best way to prevent infection is to avoid being exposed to the virus.

Can getting the flu shot increase your risk of getting COVID-19?

Currently, there is no evidence that getting the flu vaccine can increase your risk of getting COVID-19.

Is it safe to go out to get the flu shot during the COVID-19 pandemic?

Yes. Getting a flu vaccine is an essential part of protecting your health and your family’s health this season. To protect your health when getting a flu vaccine, follow CDC’s recommendations for running essential errands and doctor visits, like wearing a mask outside of your home, social distancing and frequent hand washing. Continue to take everyday preventive actions.

What is IHA doing to ensure it’s safe for me and my family to come into the office for a flu vaccine?

Patient safety is, now more than ever, our top priority. We’re taking several precautions to minimize your risk of exposure to COVID-19 while visiting an IHA practice in person, including:

  • requiring all patients, guests, staff, and providers to wear masks in our practices
  • providers and staff wear personal protective equipment
  • taking the temperature of all patients, providers, and staff upon entry into our practices
  • limiting the number of people in our practices, which means you may be asked to wait in your car instead of our waiting room
  • spacing the timing of patient appointments
  • maintaining an acceptable (greater than 6 foot) distance between patients in all common areas
  • following the cleaning protocols laid out by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) to ensure safe, sanitized environments
  • in pediatric practices, we’re scheduling sick and well patients at different times of the day

Scheduling your flu shot is easy! The flu shot is available at IHA and St. Joe’s Medical Group primary care and OBGYN practices, as well as, urgent care locations.  Click below to find a time and location that work for you.

Play it Safe

How to reduce the risk of COVID-19 exposure while playing youth sports

Many youth sports leagues are easing back into practice and in some cases competition. While it’s a much-welcomed change after a summer of quarantine, whatever you or your children play, you should play it safe. There are a number of steps you can take to help lower the risk of COVID-19 exposure and reduce the spread while playing sports. The more people a participant interacts with, the closer the physical interaction, the more sharing of equipment there is by multiple players, and the longer the interaction, the higher the risk of COVID-19 spread. Therefore, risk of COVID-19 spread can be different, depending on the type of activity. Read on for guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Make a game plan to reduce risk

  • Lowest Risk: Performing skill-building drills or conditioning at home, alone or with members of the same household
  • Increasing Risk: Team-based practice
  • More Risk: Within-team competition
  • Higher Risk: Full competition between teams from the same local geographic area (e.g., city or county)
  • Highest Risk: Full competition between teams from different geographic areas (e.g., outside county or state)
  • If organizations are not able to keep safety measures in place during competition (for example, keeping participants six feet apart at all times), they may consider limiting participation to within-team competition only (for example, scrimmages between members of the same team) or team-based practices only
  • Similarly, if organizations are unable to put in place safety measures during team-based activities, they may choose individual or at-home activities, especially if any members of the team are at an increased risk for severe illness
Source: CDC

Prepare before you participate in sports

  • Bring supplies to help you and others stay healthy—for example, masks (bring extra), hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol, broad spectrum sunscreen with SPF 15 or higher, and drinking water.
  • Prioritize participating in outdoor activities over indoor activities and stay within your local area as much as possible.
  • If using an indoor facility, allow previous groups to leave the facility before entering with your team. If possible, allow time for cleaning and/or disinfecting.
  • Check the league’s COVID-19 prevention practices before you go to make sure they have steps in place to prevent the spread of the virus.
  • If you are at an increased risk for severe illness or have existing health conditions, take extra precautions and preventive actions during the activity or choose individual or at-home activities.

Stay home if sick

If the participant has symptoms of COVID-19, has been diagnosed with COVID-19, is waiting for COVID-19 test results, or may have been exposed to someone with COVID-19, they should stay home and not participate in any sports.

Have smaller team sizes

  • Sports with a large number of players on a team may increase the likelihood of spread compared to sports with fewer team members.
  • Limit your team to a core group of participants, by restricting non-team players from joining when your team is short players and not adding new members during the season.

Reduce physical closeness between players when possible

  • Maintain at least 6 feet between yourself and your teammates, other competitors, and officials while actively participating in the sport.
  • Focus on building individual skills, like batting, dribbling, kicking, and strength training.
  • Avoid high fives, handshakes, fist bumps or hugs.
  • Keep space between players in the practice areas, including on the sideline, dugout, and bench.
  • Wait in car or away from the playing area until just before the warm-up period or the beginning of the game.
  • Avoid congregating in the parking lot or near the field before or after games.
    • If it is not possible to avoid congregating, practice social distancing by ensuring there is at least 6 feet between participants.
    • If social distancing is not possible, wear a mask whenever possible to reduce risk of virus transmission.

Space out spectators by 6 feet

  • Limit nonessential visitors, spectators, and volunteers. Ensure they wear masks and maintain social distancing.

Wear a mask if possible

  • Wear a mask if feasible, especially when it is difficult to stay less than 6 feet apart from other people or indoors, for example in close contact sports such as basketball.
  • Lower intensity sports: Emphasize wearing masks and practicing social distancing for lower intensity sports.
  • Higher intensity sports: People who are engaged in high intensity activities, like running, may not be able to wear a mask if it causes difficulty breathing.
  • If unable to wear a mask, consider conducting the activity in a location with greater ventilation and air exchange (for instance, outdoors versus indoors) and where it is possible to maintain physical distance from others.
  • In situations where individuals might raise their voices, such as shouting or chanting, we strongly encourage wearing masks.
  • For youth athletes, parents, coaches, and sports administrators should decide if the kids need to wear a mask.
  • It is not known if face shields provide any benefit as source control to protect others from the spray of respiratory particles. CDC does not recommend use of face shields for normal everyday activities or as a substitute for masks.

Minimize sharing of equipment or gear

  • Encourage players to bring their own equipment if possible, like gloves, balls, and helmets.
  • Limit the use of frequently touched surfaces on the field, court, or play surface.
  • Bring your own water to minimize use and touching of drinking fountains.
  • Clean and disinfect shared items between use.
  • Don’t share towels, clothing, or any items used to wipe your face or hands.
  • Avoid sharing food, drink containers (e.g., coolers), and utensils.

Cover your coughs and sneezes.

  • When coughing or sneezing, use a tissue or the inside of your elbow. Used tissues should be thrown away and hands washed immediately with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or use hand sanitizer with 60% alcohol.
    • If soap and water are not readily available, hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol can be used.

Wash hands

  • Wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or use hand sanitizer with 60% alcohol.
    • Before and after you play.
    • Before adjusting your mask—review information about proper use, removal, and washing of masks.

Limit travel outside of your area

  • Consider competing against teams in your local area (neighborhood, town, or community).

Checklist for coaches

  • Send a welcome email or call parents (for youth players) and/or players. Inform them about actions that the sports program will take to protect players. Remind them to stay home if sick or if they have been around someone who is sick.
  • Be a role model. Wear a mask and encourage family members, fans, officials, and sports staff to wear one during practices and games.
  • Provide hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol to players before and after practice/game and encourage them to wash their hands with soap and water.
  • Educate players about covering coughs and sneezes with a tissue or their elbow. Discourage spitting.
  • youths practicing basketball
  • Encourage players to focus on building individual skills
  • Remind players about social distancing and identify markers (such as signage or tape on floor).
  • Encourage your players to focus on building their individual skills and cardiovascular conditioning, so they can limit close contact with other players.
  • Check with your sports administrator to make sure they are following cleaning and disinfection recommendations.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces on field, court, or play surface (such as drinking fountains) at least daily or between use.
  • Clean and disinfect shared equipment.

If you have questions or concerns about your child participating in sports this fall, make an appointment to talk it over with yout pediatric provider.