Looking for an older news story that you saw on our homepage? Here are the previous medical news stories we’ve shared:
FDA Authorizes Moderna, Pfizer-BioNTech Bivalent COVID-19 Vaccines for Use as a Booster Dose
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration amended the emergency use authorizations of the Moderna and PfizerNTech vaccines to include the updated bivalent boosters. Bivalent refers to the vaccine containing two messenger RNA (mRNA) components of SARS-CoV-2 virus, one of the original strain of SARS-CoV-2 and the other one in common between the BA.4 and BA.5 lineages of the omicron variant of SARS-CoV-2. You can find more information about the authorization, here.
CDC updates masking guidelines
On March 4th, 2022, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention updated their masking guidelines. Relying on designations of low, medium, and high transmission for counties nationwide, the CDC shared that most people in areas with low or medium community levels can drop their masks indoors. People in high community levels should still wear a mask in public indoor settings, according to the guidance. The agency noted that people who are at higher risk for Covid — or those who live with people who are at risk — may still want to take extra precautions, including wearing masks, regardless of their own community status. Masks may still be required on interstate transportation systems, such as airplanes, buses and trains, and at airports, according to the Transportation Security Administration.
For more information, you can read the CDC update, here.
Order your free Covid-19 tests online
Every home in the U.S. is eligible to order four free at-home COVID-19 tests. The tests are completely free, and the request for the tests does not require submitting any credit card info- only your name and address. Orders will usually ship in 7-12 days. If you need a test now, please find testing sites in Pima County, here. If you do use an at-home test and have questions or concerns, please follow up with your provider.
Pima County reinstates mask mandate in public spaces
On December 21st, 2021, The Pima County Board of Supervisors voted to require everyone in the County to wear a face covering in indoor public settings when six feet of physical distance cannot be maintained. You can read more, here.
CDC expands booster rollout and approves mixing brands
Millions more Americans can get a COVID-19 booster and choose a different company’s vaccine for that next shot, federal health officials said Thursday, 10/21/21. The Associated Press reports, “There still are restrictions on who qualifies and when for a booster. Starting six months past their last Pfizer or Moderna vaccination, people are urged to get a booster if they’re 65 or older, nursing home residents, or at least 50 and at increased risk of severe disease because of health problems. Boosters also were allowed, but not urged, for adults of any age at increased risk of infection because of health problems or their jobs or living conditions. That includes health care workers, teachers and people in jails or homeless shelters.” You can read the full report, here.
FDA approves Pfizer-BioNTech booster shot for certain groups
On September 22nd, the FDA amended the emergency use authorization (EUA) for the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine to allow for use of a single booster dose, to be administered at least six months after completion of the primary series in:
- individuals 65 years of age and older;
- individuals 18 through 64 years of age at high risk of severe COVID-19; and
- individuals 18 through 64 years of age whose frequent institutional or occupational exposure to SARS-CoV-2 puts them at high risk of serious complications of COVID-19 including severe COVID-19.
According to the CDC, people that work in the following occupations are eligible for a booster shot (the CDC says the list may be updated):
- First responders, including health care workers, firefighters, police, congregate care staff
- Teachers and support staff, including school administrators
- Day-care workers
- Food and agriculture workers
- Manufacturing workers
- Corrections workers
- U.S. Postal Service workers
- Public transit workers
- Grocery store workers
Flu Shots are now available!
Please contact us to schedule an appointment for your flu shot, or ask to receive it at your next appointment. Current patients may also come in on any Wednesday, between 9a-4p to receive their flu vaccine- no appointment needed!
Recent studies show that receiving your flu shot also protects against contracting Covid-19 and experiencing severe cases. You can read more, here.
CDC Shifts Recommendation Surrounding Masks In Light of Delta Variant
On July 27th, 2021, the CDC added the following recommendations due to the widespread surge of the Delta variant of the Covid-19 virus:
- Updated information for fully vaccinated people given new evidence on the B.1.617.2 (Delta) variant currently circulating in the United States.
- Added a recommendation for fully vaccinated people to wear a mask in public indoor settings in areas of substantial or high transmission.
- Added information that fully vaccinated people might choose to wear a mask regardless of the level of transmission, particularly if they are immunocompromised or at increased risk for severe disease from COVID-19, or if they have someone in their household who is immunocompromised, at increased risk of severe disease or not fully vaccinated.
- Added a recommendation for fully vaccinated people who have a known exposure to someone with suspected or confirmed COVID-19 to be tested 3-5 days after exposure, and to wear a mask in public indoor settings for 14 days or until they receive a negative test result.
- CDC recommends universal indoor masking for all teachers, staff, students, and visitors to schools, regardless of vaccination status.
Further evidence demonstrates that vaccinated people can transmit the virus and people have been shown to have the same viral loads as unvaccinated individuals, when infected. Vaccines continue to protect people from serious infections requiring hospitalization and death.
FDA and CDC Clear J& J Covid Vaccine To Be Administered Again; What to Know
The FDA and CDC, on April 23rd, said the Johnson & Johnson Covid-19 vaccine could continue being administered to the public, with vaccine fact sheets updated to warn of rare blood clot risks. You can read more, here.
Johnson & Johnson Covid-19 Vaccine Temporarily Halted Amid Blood Clot Concerns
Today, the FDA and CDC released a statement regarding the decision to halt administering of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine after six cases (of more than 6.8 million total doses), resulted in cases of severe blood clotting.
As of April 12, more than 6.8 million doses of the Johnson & Johnson (Janssen) vaccine have been administered in the U.S. CDC and FDA are reviewing data involving six reported U.S. cases of a rare and severe type of blood clot in individuals after receiving the J&J vaccine. In these cases, a type of blood clot called cerebral venous sinus thrombosis (CVST) was seen in combination with low levels of blood platelets (thrombocytopenia). All six cases occurred among women between the ages of 18 and 48, and symptoms occurred 6 to 13 days after vaccination.
CDC will convene a meeting of the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) on Wednesday to further review these cases and assess their potential significance. FDA will review that analysis as it also investigates these cases. Until that process is complete, we are recommending a pause in the use of this vaccine out of an abundance of caution. This is important, in part, to ensure that the health care provider community is aware of the potential for these adverse events and can plan for proper recognition and management due to the unique treatment required with this type of blood clot.
You can read the full joint statement from the FDA and CDC, here.
All People 16+ in AZ Now Eligible to Register for Covid-19 Vaccine as of Wednesday, 3/24/2021
This past week, Governor Ducey announced that all people age 16+ are now eligible to register for the Covid-19 vaccine. You can read the announcement, here. To read more information about how to register and where to find the vaccine, read our post, here.
Pima County Covid-19 Stats and How to Register for the Vaccine
Tucson Medical Center provided the following updates for Pima County as of January 15th, 9 a.m.
Cases in Arizona: 658,186
Deaths in Arizona: 11,040
Cases in Pima County: 87,687
Deaths in Pima County: 1,393
Number of Cases in SAHA Counties: 14,191
Statewide Community Risk – Increasing with areas of heightened risk
Statewide Community Spread – Widespread
For information about how to register for the Covid-19 vaccine, please read here.
Covid-19 Vaccine Distribution Begins
Over the past two weeks, Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna received emergency approval from the FDA for their Covid-19 vaccines. Shipments of the vaccine have shipped across the country and are already being administered. I was fortunate to receive my first dose today. Thank you to everybody involved in producing the vaccine and all healthcare workers.
Flu Shots Are Now Available
Flu shots have arrived at Courtney Medical Group. Flu symptoms are very similar to those of COVID-19; the flu vaccine not only helps prevent flu illness in our community, it preserves health care resources for those battling COVID-19. Please read more about the importance of the flu vaccination here.
You are able to request your flu shot at follow-up appointments at CMG, or attend our open clinics on Wednesdays from 9a-4p. Quantities are limited; please call our office with any questions.
Updated CDC Recommendations Regarding Virus Testing
After changing their recommendation in late August, much to the surprise and against the suggestion of many health officials, the CDC reversed their stance that it was not necessary for those without symptoms (but having had contact with individuals known to have COVID-19) to receive testing. The recommendation has returned to state “Due to the significance of asymptomatic and pre-symptomatic transmission, this guidance further reinforces the need to test asymptomatic persons, including close contacts of a person with documented SARS-CoV-2 infection. Testing is recommended for all close contacts of persons with SARS-CoV-2 infection. Because of the potential for asymptomatic and pre-symptomatic transmission, it is important that contacts of individuals with SARS-CoV-2 infection be quickly identified and tested.” Testing is available at most local pharmacies, at your providers office (including at Courtney Medical Group), and there are temporary testing sites available through Pima County. You can read more about the update and testing availability here.
FDA Authorizes Covid-19 Tests For People Without Symptoms
Covid-19 tests have been difficult to come by, with most made available to those that are exhibiting symptoms. Last week, the FDA authorized tests for those without symptoms. Tests will be available at a wide variety of locations, although there may be a delay in obtaining a test as those with symptoms and at higher risk will receive priority scheduling. Read more about the details of the new authorization here.
CDC Recommends Face Coverings While In Public
Late last week, the Centers For Disease Control recommended that people use face coverings while in public settings. This is in an effort to stop the spread of COVID-19 by those that are ill or asymptomatic. Please follow these guidelines for how to effectively use a face covering; the recommendations specify disposable masks, but if you opt for a cloth covering, the best precaution is to wash the covering after use, and to avoid touching the covering (along with maintaining hand hygiene and frequent cleaning of high traffic areas).
If you would like to purchase handmade cloth masks, Courtney Medical Group has them available for sale for $8 each. Adult sizes; children’s sizes available upon request.
Please call our office (520-797-8555) or email (email@example.com) for more information.
COVID-19 (Coronavirus) Guidelines- Updated
It’s possible that face protection may be required when leaving the house to protect from those that may be asymptomatic of the COVID-19 virus. While this is controversial and may help protect from those unaware they are infected, there are pros and cons to both sides. In the event the recommendation is made to wear face coverings, we wanted to stress how to safely use them. Please follow these guidelines for how to effectively use a face covering; the recommendations specify disposable masks, but if you opt for a cloth covering, the best precaution is to wash the covering after use, and to avoid touching the covering (along with maintaining hand hygiene and frequent cleaning of high traffic areas).
If the recommendation is made, please don’t rush to buy surgical masks so desperately needed by your healthcare providers on the front line. A scarf or other homemade device will give the basic protection this rule is trying to provide.
The World Health Organization has also shared other helpful resources (including a myth busters section) to provide accurate information about COVID-19 as we navigate these uncertain times.
Covid-19 (Coronavirus) Guidelines
News surrounding Covid-19, also known as coronavirus, is circulating at a rapid pace and can make it difficult to feel adequately informed about the topic and what precautions to take.
-Establish hand hygiene. Most illnesses are transmitted by people touching contaminated surfaces (door handles, keyboards, pin pads, etc), then touching their faces. Routinely washing hands and avoiding touching your face can reduce the chances of illness significantly.
-Avoid being around those that are sick, and stay home if you yourself are ill. It can’t be stressed enough the importance of avoiding group settings when ill- not to mention that anybody that is under the weather will benefit from resting at home.
-There is no evidence that wearing masks will protect people from getting sick. The CDC does not recommend that people use face masks, as this can create a false sense of security and actually increase how often people touch their faces. The face masks that may protect against coronavirus, N95 respirators, require annual fit testing to be considered effective, and are used by those in professions that may expose them to harmful chemicals, dusts, fumes, etc., not daily use by the general public. Officials are strongly recommending people do not stockpile face masks of any sort as that may cause a shortage for those in professions that require them, or individuals who otherwise need them. You can read the latest CDC info here.
Ask Your Provider About Daily Aspirin
New research shows that healthy people who don’t have known heart disease or stroke should speak to their provider before starting a daily aspirin regimen. Evidence highlights that the risk of internal bleeding and other side effects offset potential benefits for those considered to be at low or moderate risk for heart disease. Please speak to your provider before starting (or stopping!) any medication. Read more about the recommendations from the American Heart Association here.
Parents, Grandparents Responsible For Half Of Child Poisonings
Most would agree that the safety of our children and grandchildren is one of our highest priorities. It may shock many people that parents and grandparents are often responsible for half of child poisonings. How can that be? A study found that caregivers take their meds out of tough-to-open containers and put them in easy reach places for convenience, they are inadvertently contributing to some 50,000 emergency room visits by kids every year who swallow dangerous pills when adults aren’t paying attention. Read more here about how this oversight can be life threatening to children.
Additional Meds Added To Ranitidine Recall List
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is adding to a list of recalled lots of popular heartburn medications, including generic forms of Zantac, because the pills might contain small amounts of a suspected carcinogen, NDMA. New evidence points to the production of NDMA when ranitidine is exposed to heat. For additional information, read here.
FDA Exerts Authority Over Vaping Products In An Effort To Protect Public Health As Lung Injuries Continue To Rise
January 2020 brought about another FDA regulation over the e-cigarette market as EVALI cases continue to rise. Flavored e-cigarette cartridges are no longer permitted to be manufactured, sold, or distributed by companies, or else face FDA enforcement actions. Companies were given only 30 days to comply with the regulation.
New Study Shows Exposure To BPA Higher Than Previously Thought
Many people have transitioned to limit their use of plastic items, and avoid those that contain BPA. When we consider all plastics used to hold liquids, personal care products, cooking supplies, materials like paints, adhesives and protective coatings (including clear coatings on the inside of food cans and some kinds of paper such as receipts) contain BPA or a similar chemical, the potential for exposure is high. A new study shows it may even be worse then we first thought. Although protections for the consumer are in place, new evidence shows that Food and Drug Administration (FDA) testing methods may be unreliable and result in exposure to high levels of BPA. You can read more about the latest findings here.
FDA Raises Legal Tobacco Age To 21
The higher legal age was slipped in to the final version of the fiscal 2020 budget that was passed by Congress this month and signed by President Trump on Dec. 20, 2019.
The bill gave the federal government up to nine months to develop and implement regulations for enforcing the new rule, but the FDA said the higher age took effect with the president’s signature. The CDC reports that 6.2 million middle and high school students used some form of tobacco in 2019; the new law will help prevent youth tobacco usage, including vaping and e-cigarette products which have been under heavy scrutiny due to lung illnesses and deaths related to the products. You can read more about the legal tobacco age change here.
1,300 Flu Related Deaths So Far This Season
Have you received your flu shot yet? It is not too late to benefit from the protection of the flu vaccination. Due to overwhelming response, CMG no longer has the shot available, but you can still receive the vaccination at pharmacies throughout the city. The CDC has released information regarding the flu-related deaths which you can read here.
Deaths Related To Vaping Continue To Rise
In response to the continued rise of lung illnesses and deaths related to vaping, the FDA has issued a recommendation that e-cigarette or vaping products that contain THC be avoided. The only way to assure that you are not at risk while the investigation continues is to consider refraining from use of all e-cigarette and vaping products. Adults addicted to nicotine using e-cigarettes should weigh all risks and benefits, and consider utilizing FDA-approved nicotine replacement therapies. They should not turn to or resume using combustible tobacco. There is no safe tobacco product. All tobacco products, including e-cigarettes, carry a risk. For more information on the outbreak and recommendations, please see the FDA’s consumer update on vaping illnesses.
Romaine Lettuce Recall Update
Late November, a recall of Romaine lettuce used within pre-made salad mixes was issued. The source was found to be in the Salinas, CA area. The most recent update from the CDC says 67 people across 19 states infected with E. coli are linked to the outbreak. Thirty-nine of them have been hospitalized. No deaths have been reported. The CDC is urging people to avoid all lettuce from the Salinas, CA region- you can check the package, or label on the lettuce. If you are unsure, do not eat the product. This particular strain, E. coli 0157:H7 is considered a more serious infection, so it is better to err on the safe side. For more information, you can read here.
Additional Concerns Raised Over Ranitidine
Information continues to expose additional concerns over ranitidine, commonly known as Zantac. The manufacturing process, previously thought to be when medication was exposed to a contaminant was the reason behind elevated levels of NDMA; now, information shows that it may be the actual process that is creating the elevated NDMA levels.
In addition, sources at the FDA shared that they are looking into how ranitidine interacts with the human body, specifically what happens to NDMA levels in the body, after ranitidine has been exposed to acid in the stomach.
Please call your provider or pharmacist to discuss any concerns regarding ranitidine and alternatives if you are currently using a prescription that contains the ingredients in question.
CDC Releases Info: Vaping Illnesses Caused By Vitamin E Acetate
A form of vitamin E has been identified as a “very strong culprit” in lung injuries related to vaping THC, health officials reported on Friday, November 8th, 2019. It is a major advance in a frightening outbreak that has killed 40 people and sickened 2,051. You can read more here about the latest development. The CDC continues to update their page with information as well, and can be found here.
FDA Expands Ranitidine Recall To Even More Manufacturers
The FDA announced that four other pharmaceutical companies were voluntarily recalling various ranitidine-containing products in addition to those that have previously recalled for unsafe levels of NDMA. You can read the timeline and details of the recall here. If you are unsure if a product you are using contains NDMA, contact your pharmacist or provider.
Ranitidine Recall Expanded
Ranitidine, more commonly known by brand names like Zantac, Rani 2, and Ausran, was voluntarily recalled by its manufacturer (Sandoz Inc.). The lots of Ranitidine Hydrochloride Capsules were recalled in the U.S. because of confirmed contamination with N-Nitrosodimethylamine (NDMA) above levels established by the FDA. To check whether a batch is part of the recall, you can check the FDA website or call your pharmacist or provider for information.
UPDATE: This week, the recall was widened- you can find more details here.
Vaping Illness Reported In 49 States
Concerns over vaping and the lung injury caused by it continue to grow. Now named EVALI, the vaping related illness has spread to over 1,300 people in 49 states. You can read the latest from the Centers for Disease Control, here.
Flu Season Kicks Off- Here’s What To Know
A flu vaccination is important not only for those that receive the immunization, but for all those around them. People with compromised immune systems, the elderly, and very young are especially at risk for complications and may not be able to receive the immunization; but if those around them are immunized, it can offer a layer of protection. You can read more about why immunizations are important, here. The 2019 flu season has officially started- here is some important information about this flu season .