While mask and vaccination mandates have been lifted or modified, Black and Brown communities are still experiencing high rates of COVID-19, combined with the lowest rates of full vaccination. Questions abound and the Southside Coalition of Community Health Centers is providing some answers to frequently asked questions.
The information here is a guide, based on data resources from the Black Community Vaccine Toolkit, developed in collaboration with the Ad Council, the COVID Collaborative and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The best approach is to talk with one’s doctor, or contact Southside Coalition clinics for help at (213) 221-2463.
1. I have not gotten COVID yet, why should I get vaccinated now?
Getting immunized against COVID-19 keeps most people from getting sick. Even in a rare case where one does catch the virus, the vaccine will likely prevent you from becoming seriously ill. Protecting yourself also protects the people around you who are at increased risk of severe illness from COVID-19 or those who can’t get vaccinated — infants, or people with weakened immune systems from such things as cancer or even diabetes.
2. How do I know if I have COVID or a cold/flu?
People infected by the coronavirus may not have any symptoms, or their symptoms can be mild, seemingly like those of a common cold. While these differences may appear mild, there is increasing concern about the long haul (long-term) effects from COVID, no matter the severity. To see if someone has been infected with the coronavirus, doctors can do a test that looks for a piece of the virus in the respiratory tract. Doctors also can check for a past infection by doing a blood test that looks for antibodies. People can take a home test for COVID-19 by picking up a test from many pharmacies.
3. How concerned should I be about the latest variant?
The virus that causes COVID-19 is constantly changing, and new variants of the virus continue to occur. Fortunately, the vaccine and boosters have shown to be most effective in preventing serious illness from all the variants our country has seen to date. It comes down to being vaccinated and boosted, when the booster becomes available for people of your age and continuing to be vigilant in following good health measures (thorough hand washing, wearing masks in crowded spaces; particularly when indoors).
Sometimes new variants emerge and disappear. Other times, new variants persist. Numerous variants of the virus that cause COVID-19 are being tracked in the United States and globally during this pandemic. There have been more breakthrough cases with these new variants than the original virus, but vaccines and boosters are still effective at preventing severe illness and hospitalization from the BA1.2 variant. Additionally, people who have not been fully vaccinated against COVID-19 are most at risk and more likely to transmit the virus to others.
4. I’ve been vaccinated, do I still need to get tested for COVID-19?
If you have symptoms of COVID-19, even if you’re fully vaccinated, you should get tested for COVID-19. Anyone with COVID-19 symptoms should isolate away from others while awaiting test results and clinical evaluation. It is important to get a COVID-19 test, even if you are up to date with your COVID-19 vaccines. You should get tested if you are in close contact with someone with COVID-19 and if you have traveled internationally or to areas in the US where COVID-19 is spreading quickly. This is especially important if you or someone you are meeting or live with is at higher risk for severe COVID-19.
5. What should I do if my child has symptoms of COVID-19?
Your child should stay home if they have symptoms of COVID-19 and get tested. It is very important that your child not attend school in-person when he or she has symptoms so that they don’t spread illness to fellow students, teachers or staff.
6. There’s a lot of misinformation about COVID-19 online. What should I do?
The first step to addressing misinformation about COVID-19 vaccines in your community is learning more about it, including where it starts and when, why, and how it is spreading and evolving. Learn more at southsidecoalition.org. To make an appointment to get the COVID-19 vaccine or a booster at a clinic, call (213) 221- 2463. For more information, visit Southside Coalition of Community Health Centers’ website at southsidecoalition.org/booster.