COVID-19 Resources

At Common Ground Healthcare Cooperative, member health and safety comes first. For vaccine help for questions, Wisconsin residents can call the COVID-19 vaccine assistance hotline at 844-684-1064.

COVID-19 Information from WI’s Department of Health Services

Free At-Home COVID-19 Tests

COVID-19 Vaccine Information

A Note from Our Chief Medical Officer About the Recent FDA Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) of COVID-19 Vaccines for Children Ages 6 Months to 6 Years

 

Dear Members,

 

In mid-June, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) granted emergency use authorization (EUA) for children as young as 6 months old to receive the Pfizer and Modena COVID-19 vaccines. Because the COVID-19 vaccines for young children are new, I have included answers to a few of the more frequently asked questions (FAQs) you may have about these immunizations. If you have specific questions about your child’s vaccination status, please contact your healthcare provider.

 

Q: How do we know the newly approved COVID-19 vaccines are safe and effective for young children?

A: The COVID-19 vaccines for children have been rigorously tested and thoroughly reviewed by the FDA and CDC. Thousands of children participated in the clinical trials in the U.S. and Canada, and the COVID-19 vaccines are the most closely monitored vaccines in U.S. history. The vaccines, which were tested with thousands of young children, have been shown to be safe and effective at preventing COVID-19. Additionally, the FDA and CDC will continue to monitor the safety of COVID-19 vaccines in all age groups, including among children.

 

Moderna Vaccine:  Interim results showed that the vaccine was 51% effective against symptomatic infection among children ages 6 months to 2 years, and 37% effective among those 2 to 5 years. In both age groups, two doses compared favorably to the immune response adults ages 18 to 25 had after two doses. The studies were conducted during the Omicron wave.

 

  • Safety Information:
    • For children 6–36 months of age, the most commonly reported side effects include irritability/crying, sleepiness, and loss of appetite.
    • For children 37 months through 5 years of age, the most commonly reported side effects include fatigue, headache, muscle aches, chills, nausea/vomiting and joint stiffness.

 

Pfizer-BioNTech Vaccine: Following a third dose, children 5 and under elicited a strong immune response, and efficacy was 80.3% in preventing symptomatic infection. Parts of the studies took place before the Omicron variant was predominant.

 

  • Safety Information:
    • For children 6 – 23 months of age, the most commonly reported side effects include irritability, decreased appetite, fever and pain, tenderness, redness and swelling at the injection site.
    • For children 2–4 years of age, the side effects listed above were also reported in addition to fever, headache, and chills. These side effects were typically mild, if they occurred at all.

 

Bottom line – Vaccines are currently free, safe, and highly effective

Vaccination is the best way to prevent COVID-19, its acute complications and “long COVID” symptoms including chronic issues that could affect your child’s ability to attend school or perform usual activities.

Immunization schedule for the newly approved pediatric age groups*

*In non-immunocompromised individuals. Source: CDC

Q: Should I be concerned about the Moderna vaccine being only 37-51% effective in young children?

A: No. This is typical of viral vaccine efficacy. For example, the flu vaccine is usually between 40% and 60% effective among the overall population each season. This may sound low, but the vaccine can help reduce the chance of children developing the most dangerous complications of COVID-19 including pneumonia, multisystem inflammatory syndrome (MIS-C) – a serious condition where different body parts can become inflamed, including the heart, lungs, kidneys, brain, skin, eyes, or gastrointestinal organs, brain swelling (encephalitis), and sepsis (an overwhelming, often fatal systemic infection).

 

Q: Why do children need a COVID-19 vaccine if they don’t often experience severe illness with the virus?

A: A COVID-19 vaccine can prevent your child from getting COVID-19 and spreading it to others who are at higher risk such as older adults (like grandparents) or people who are immunocompromised (such as people with diabetes, asthma or COPD/emphysema, heart or kidney disease, and those on medications that affect the immune system). In these people COVID-19 can cause serious complications or even death.

Importantly, if your child does get COVID-19, being vaccinated could prevent severe illness, hospitalization, or complications like MIS-C. Getting vaccinated also helps your child to participate in daycare or school, playdates, sports, and other group activities.

 

Q: Are some children at greater risk of getting COVID-19?

A: Yes. Data from the CDC indicates that some children may be at a higher risk for a serious case of COVID-19, needing medical care in a hospital, including:

  • Children under age 2
  • Black and Latino children, who can be affected by health disparities, leaving them disproportionately vulnerable to severe COVID-19 complications
  • Children who were born prematurely
  • Those living with obesity or chronic lung disease
  • Children living with other serious or chronic diseases

To learn more about the COVID-19 vaccines for children and teens, including more answers to frequently asked questions, please visit the CDC website at: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/vaccines/vaccines-children-teens.html

 

Q: When will we be done with COVID-19?

A: COVID-19 will probably not go away. As an endemic viral illness, like the flu and other similar respiratory viruses, COVID-19 will likely occur regularly every year with seasonal variations. Taking steps to protect your health, and the health of the people around you, is particularly important.

Getting vaccinated is a crucial tool in building immunity to COVID-19. We strongly encourage everyone eligible for the vaccine to find their nearest vaccination site: https://vaccinefinder.org/search/.

 

To familiarize yourself with the current CDC recommendations, please click here:

https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prevent-getting-sick/prevention.html

 

Thanks for doing your part to help fight the spread of COVID-19. Stay safe and healthy.

 

Scott Anderson, M.D.

Chief Medical Officer, CGHC

General COVID-19 Frequently Asked Questions with Dr. Anderson

(See full PDF FAQs here)

Why is Omicron such a big deal?

The Omicron B.1.1.529 variant has many mutations, some of which are quite concerning. Clinical evidence has shown that Omicron is more transmissible (highly contagious) and able to reinfect, compared to other variants of concern (VOCs). As of January 12, 2022, the CDC estimated the Omicron variant accounted for 98.3 percent of all COVID-19 cases in the United States. Sub-variants of Omicron continue to emerge, which has the potential to further its spread. Please see the CDC COVID-19 Website for the most recent information about variants of the virus.

Isn’t the spread of COVID-19 limited to big cities like Milwaukee and Green Bay?

Not necessarily. The Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS) reported on March 7, 2022, that COVID-19 transmission levels in Green Bay and Milwaukee are consistent with surrounding counties. Thanks to the high levels of vaccination and population immunity, the risk of severe hospitalizations and deaths due to COVID-19 is greatly reduced. Please go to the WI DHS COVID-19 Website for the most up-to-date information about the spread of COVID-19 in Wisconsin.

What is the impact of Omicron on children?

The Omicron variant is not always mild in children. We are seeing worsening respiratory illness in young children. This includes tracheobronchitis and bronchiolitis reminiscent of croup. Parents often think of “croupy cough” as a lower airway disease, but it’s not. With Omicron, the upper airways are impacted. This can be a problem for young children whose airways are smaller. Younger children who are unvaccinated are most at risk for developing COVID-induced upper airway inflammation. In rare cases, complete airway obstruction can occur. This may require urgent, definitive airway management. Some children require hospital admission, supplemental oxygen, and even ventilatory support. Learn about keeping kids healthy on the WI DHS COVID-19 Website.

Will the booster be required for me to be considered fully vaccinated?

Currently, people are considered fully vaccinated two weeks after:

  • Two doses of the Pfizer® and Moderna® vaccines -or-
  • One dose of Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen® vaccine.

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However, the definition of fully vaccinated could change. “Optimal vaccination” (i.e., providing the greatest protection) does include booster immunizations in most age groups. Please see the CDC COVID-19 Website for more information about COVID-19 Vaccines and Boosters.

How much risk is there if I don’t get fully vaccinated?

Vaccinations provide the greatest protection against COVID-19 and its most serious symptoms. According to Wisconsin DHS data (from December 2021), people not fully vaccinated are:

  • Diagnosed with COVID-19 at a rate 3x higher than fully vaccinated people
  • Hospitalized with COVID-19 at a rate 10x higher than fully vaccinated people
  • Dying from COVID-19 at a rate 14x higher than people who were fully vaccinated

Can pregnant or lactating females receive COVID-19 Vaccines?

Yes, to both. COVID-19 vaccination is recommended for all people who are pregnant or lactating. Approval by a healthcare professional is not required before receiving the vaccination, according to the CDC. However, if you are concerned about the use of a COVID-19 vaccine while pregnant or lactating, a discussion with your clinical provider team may help in deciding.

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Increased risks for severe illness exist for pregnant and recently pregnant people (for at least 42 days following the end of pregnancy) with COVID-19, when compared with non-pregnant people. Pregnant people with COVID-19 are also at increased risk for preterm birth, stillbirth, and other pregnancy complications. For these reasons, COVID-19 vaccination is recommended for all people who are pregnant. Please visit the FDA Website and CDC COVID-19 Website for more information.

Can you get a COVID-19 primary vaccination or booster, and a flu shot at the same time?

Yes. Getting both the flu and COVID-19 vaccines at the same time is safe. Clinical studies and real-world experience have proven that you can receive both at the same time. Please visit the FDA Website for the most up-to-date information.

I have already had COVID-19 and am not vaccinated. Will my natural immunity protect me from getting COVID-19 again, just like with other viral illnesses?

Probably not. Studies have determined that immunity from having a COVID-19 infection drops rather quickly. Unvaccinated people may still get very sick and could actually die of a repeat COVID-19 infection. Even people who were quite ill with COVID-19 are at risk for being infected with one of the variants of concern. We saw this happen during the Delta surge in the fall of 2021. Reinfection primarily occurs because new variants are genetically different to prior variants due to mutations. For example, Omicron has over thirty (30) different mutations, which makes Omicron incredibly contagious and very risky for unvaccinated individuals.

For information about Over-The-Counter At-Home COVID-19 tests, please use this Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ).  If you purchase At-Home COVID-19 tests for you or your covered family members, please use the online form through OptumRx to submit your claim for reimbursement. Any other questions about coverage for at-home COVID-19 tests will be answered in our FAQ.

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