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Covid and Flu Resource Page: May 2022 update

CAI’s Racial and Ethnic Approaches to Community Health (REACH) Ferry Good Health Project uses a community-led approach to help to reduce chronic illness among African American/Black residents in five underserved ZIP codes in Buffalo, New York. As part of that work, they share guidance and resources about preventing and treating the flu and COVID.

We update this page regularly to share the most recent guidance from the CDC and other sources.

On this page:

COVID Vaccine Booster Update

Initial data suggests that COVID-19 boosters help broaden and strengthen the protection against Omicron and other variants.

As of April 1, 2022, the CDC has issued the following information and recommendations regarding booster shots:

  • Individuals 50 years and older are eligible for a second booster shot (to be received at least four months after the first booster).
  • The second booster must be a Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna vaccine.

Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccination

  • The CDC has encouraged individuals 12 and older who completed their initial Pfizer vaccination series (both shots) to receive a booster shot.
  • Individuals 12 and older should get a booster shot five months after their initial Pfizer vaccination series.
  • Adults 50 years and older are eligible to receive a second booster. The second booster should be received at least four months after your first booster.
  • The CDC is recommending that moderately or severely immunocompromised 5–11-year-olds (for example children living with cancer or sickle cell disease) receive an additional primary dose of vaccine 28 days after their initial series.
  • At this time, only the Pfizer vaccine is authorized and recommended for children aged 5-11. Find additional information regarding COVID-19 vaccination among moderately or severely immunocompromised individuals on the CDC site.

Moderna vaccination

The CDC has encouraged individuals 18 and older who completed their initial Moderna vaccination series to receive a booster shot.

Individuals 18 and older should get a booster shot at least five months after their initial Moderna vaccination series.

Adults 50 years and older are eligible to receive a second booster. The second booster should be received at least four  months after your first booster.

Johnson & Johnson vaccination

The CDC has encouraged everyone 18 and older who received a J&J vaccination to receive a booster shot.

Individuals 18 and older should get a booster shot 2 months after their initial J&J vaccination.

Adults 50 years and older are eligible to receive a second booster. The second booster should be received at least four months after your first booster.

The CDC recommends that people who received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine get a Pfizer or Moderna booster. The CDC advises people who got a Pfizer or Moderna vaccine to get the same booster as their initial vaccine, but allows them to mix and match (i.e., get a different COVID-19 booster than their initial vaccine) depending on preference or availability.

 

Woman getting at-home rapid COVID test

Tips for getting an At-Home COVID-19 Testing Kit

Individuals can order free at home U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved COVID-19 testing kits. Individuals should be aware to only use testing kits that are approved by the FDA.

Every home in the United States is now eligible for four free at home COVID-19 testing kits. You can order your kits at covidtests.gov. These kits are approved by the FDA.

Please be aware to only use testing kits that are approved by the FDA if you purchase or acquire at home COVID-19 testing kits online (not via covidtests.gov) or at a pharmacy or other store.

Resources:

A positive self-test result means that the test detected the virus, and you are very likely to have an infection and should stay home or isolate for at least five days, wear a mask if you could have contact with others, and avoid indoor gatherings to reduce the risk of spreading disease to someone else. Read about quarantine and isolation on the CDC site.

A negative self-test result means that the test did not detect the virus and you may not have an infection, but it does not rule out infection. Repeating the test within a few days, with at least 24 hours between tests, will increase the confidence that you are not infected.

Your health-care provider can recommend or offer an approved at-home test or tell you where to find a legitimate clinic. Check out the official website of your local health department for more information on testing availability.

 

Tips for Conducting an At-home COVID-19 Test

COVID-19 testing kits have become available for at home use and it is important to conduct the test correctly in order to get the most accurate result.

How to use a self-test

Read the complete manufacturer’s instructions for use before using the test. Talk to a healthcare provider if you have questions about the test or your results.

Prepare to collect a specimen

  • Wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
  • Open the box and follow the instructions included with the self-test to collect your own nasal or saliva specimen.
  • If you don’t collect the specimens as directed, your test results may be incorrect.

Perform the test

  • Follow the instructions exactly and perform the steps in the order that they are listed. The manufacturer may also provide other resources, such as quick reference guides or instructional videos, to help you perform the test correctly.
  • Most self-tests require the collection of a nasal specimen. A few self-tests require a saliva specimen. (Read more about self-testing at the CDC site.)
  • Once collected, use the specimen as described in the instructions to complete the self-test.

Tips

  • Store all test components according to the manufacturer’s instructions until ready for use.
  • Check the expiration date. Do not use expired tests or test components that are damaged or appear discolored based on the manufacturer’s instructions.
  • Clean the countertop, table, or other surfaces where you will do the test.
  • Do not open test devices or other test components until you are ready to start the testing process.
  • Have a timer ready because you may need to time several of the test steps.
  • Read test results only within the amount of time specified in the manufacturer’s instructions. A result read before or after the specified timeframe may be incorrect.
  • Don’t reuse test devices or other components.

After you have the results, discard the specimen collection swab or tube and test in the trash, clean all surfaces that the specimen may have touched, and wash your hands.

For more information about at-home testing please visit the CDC website.

 

Worried young woman looking through window at home in quarantine.

COVID Quarantine & Isolation – Updated Guidance

You should isolate when you are sick with COVID-19 symptoms or when you have tested positive for COVID, even if you don’t have symptoms. You should quarantine if you have been exposed to a person who has tested positive for COVID-19 if you haven’t received a booster shot or are not vaccinated or only had one shot. The CDC has shortened the time for quarantine and isolation for the general population.

Please use the new quarantine and isolation calculator to help determine how long you need to isolate, quarantine, or take other steps to prevent spreading COVID-19.

You isolate when you are sick or when you have been infected with the virus, even if you don’t have symptoms.

Who should isolate?

  • People who are confirmed to have COVID-19 or are showing symptoms of COVID-19 need to isolate regardless of their vaccination status.
  • People who have a positive test for COVID-19 (either from a PCR test or a rapid test), regardless of whether or not they have symptoms.
  • People with symptoms of COVID-19, including people who are awaiting test results or have not been tested. People with symptoms should isolate even if they do not know if they have been in close contact with someone with COVID-19.

What to do for isolation?

  • Everyone who has presumed or confirmed COVID-19 should stay home and isolate from other people for at least five full days (day zero is the first day of symptoms or the date of the day of the positive viral test for people who do not have symptoms).
  • They should wear a well-fitting mask when around others at home and in public for an additional five days.
  • Monitor your symptoms. If you have an emergency warning sign (including trouble breathing), seek emergency medical care immediately.
  • Stay in a separate room from other household members, if possible.
  • Use a separate bathroom, if possible.
  • Take steps to improve ventilation at home, if possible.
  • Avoid contact with other members of the household and pets.
  • Don’t share personal household items, like cups, towels, and utensils.

Learn more about what to do if you are sick and how to notify your contacts.

Please visit the CDC website for more information about what to do when ending isolation.

About quarantines

You quarantine when you might have been exposed to the virus and may or may not have been infected.

Who should quarantine?

If you were exposed to COVID-19 and are NOT up-to-date on COVID-19 vaccinations, you should quarantine.

Who does not need to quarantine?

If you had close contact with someone with COVID-19 and you are in one of the following groups, you do not need to quarantine.

  • You are up-to-date with your COVID-19 vaccines.
  • You had confirmed COVID-19 within the last 90 days (meaning you tested positive using a viral test).

What to do for quarantine

  • Stay home and away from other people for at least 5 days (day 0 through day 5) after your last contact with a person who has COVID-19. The date of your exposure is considered day 0. Wear a well-fitting mask when around others at home, if possible.
  • If possible, stay away from people you live with, especially people who are at higher risk for getting very sick from COVID-19, as well as others outside your home throughout the full 10 days after your last close contact with someone with COVID-19.
  • If you are unable to quarantine, you should wear a well-fitting mask for 10 days when around others at home and in public.
  • If you develop symptoms, get tested immediately and isolate until you receive your test results. If you test positive, follow isolation recommendations.

Please visit the CDC website for more information about what to do during and after quarantine.

 

New cases file folder

COVID-19 Cases, Hospitalizations and Deaths by Vaccination Status

People who are unvaccinated have higher risk of testing positive, being hospitalized, and dying from COVID-19 than people who are vaccinated.

COVID-19 Cases & Hospitalizations in New York

Summary of findings for all people ages 18 years or older during the week of April 18th:

  • Fully-vaccinated New Yorkers (people who got two shots who may or may not have received a booster shot) had about a 68% lower chance of getting COVID-19 compared to unvaccinated New Yorkers.
  • Fully-vaccinated New Yorkers (people who got two shots who may or may not have received a booster shot) had between an 85.6% and 95.9% lower chance of being hospitalized with COVID-19, compared to unvaccinated New Yorkers.
  • Please visit the New York State’s COVID-19 Breakthrough Data information page for more information about COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations in New York

Graph showing daily cases by vaccination status
Figure 1: New cases of laboratory-confirmed COVID-19 since November 2021 among fully vaccinated (blue line) and unvaccinated adults (orange line), and estimated vaccine effectiveness (gray line), age 18 years or older in New York state.

Figure 2: New hospitalizations of laboratory-confirmed COVID-19 since November 2021 among fully vaccinated (blue line) and unvaccinated adults (orange line), and estimated vaccine effectiveness (gray line), age 18 years or older in New York state.

Risk of dying if not vaccinated in the United States

In February 2022 (latest available data), unvaccinated adults ages 5 years and older had had 10x risk of dying from COVID-19 compared to persons vaccinated with at least a primary series in the United States.

In February 2022 (latest available data), unvaccinated people had 20x risk of dying from COVID-19 compared to persons vaccinated with a primary series and a booster dose in the United States.

Please visit the CDC’s COVID Data Tracker for more information about COVID-19 deaths by vaccination status in the United States.

Graph showing daily cases by vaccination status

Figure 3: Rates of death of laboratory-confirmed COVID-19 among vaccinated with at least a primary series (blue line) and unvaccinated adults (orange line), age 5 years or older in the United States.

Graph showing daily cases by vaccination status

Figure 4: Rates of death of laboratory-confirmed COVID-19 among vaccinated with a primary series and a booster dose* (dotted light blue line) primary series without a booster dose (green line) and unvaccinated adults (black line), age 12 years or older in the United States.
*Because data on the immune status of cases and associated deaths are unavailable, an additional dose in an immunocompromised person cannot be distinguished from a booster dose. This is a relevant consideration because vaccines can be less effective in this group.

 

Woman wearing with protective face mask

COVID-19 and Masks: Advice and Updates Regarding Mask Guidance

Certain masks provide more protection from COVID-19 than other masks (e.g., N-95 masks provide more protection than cloth masks). The CDC has released new guidance regarding mask wearing as of March 21, 2022.

What mask should I wear?

Along with getting vaccinated and boosted, wearing a well-fitting mask over your mouth and nose in indoor public settings or crowds is crucial to protect yourself and others from COVID-19. Experts recommend you upgrade your mask to a high filtration respirator if you want optimal protection. Read more mask guidance at the CDC website.

When should I wear a mask?

Know the COVID-19 Community Level where you live.

COVID-19 Community Levels are a tool to help communities decide what prevention steps to take based on the latest data. Find out your local COVID-19 Community Level.

Low level

Medium level

High level

Additional precautions may be needed for people at high risk for severe illness.

 

Nurse gives flu shot vaccine to patient at pharmacy.

Flu Updates

Getting the flu shot is important for protecting yourself, your loved ones, and the community.

This season it’s especially important to get a flu shot to protect yourself and your loved ones from flu. Read more about the flu vaccine at the CDC site.

Protect yourself

Flu vaccines can prevent millions of people from getting flu. During the 2019-2020 flu season, flu vaccines prevented an estimated 8.7 million flu illnesses, 105,000 flu-related hospitalizations, and 6,300 flu-related deaths.

Protect your time

People who get flu are usually sick for about a week. Being protected against flu and staying healthy means you can be there for loved ones who depend on you.

Protect your community

People with certain chronic conditions are at higher risk of getting very sick from flu, including being hospitalized or even dying. Getting a flu vaccine can reduce the risk of giving flu to people with asthma, diabetes, heart disease, cancer, HIV/AIDS, and sickle cell anemia.

Protect your loved ones

A flu vaccine helps protect the people around you who are more likely to get very sick from flu, like babies, young children, pregnant people, and older adults.

FAQs about getting both the flu shot and a COVID-19 vaccine

Can you get a flu vaccine after getting a COVID-19 vaccine?

Yes, there is no required time interval in between the two vaccines. You can get a flu shot after getting a COVID-19 vaccine or you can get a COVID-19 vaccine and then get a flu shot. You can even get both vaccines at the same time.

Why should I get a flu shot if I’m not around as many people as normal due to COVID-19?

A flu shot is the best way to protect yourself, your loved ones and your community from the flu. It’s important to protect people around you, particularly people at higher risk of severe flu illness, like young children, older adults, and people with underlying health conditions.

Does a fly vaccination increase your risk of getting COVID-19?

No, there is no evidence that getting a flu shot increases your risk of getting COVID-19.

What is the difference between flu and COVID-19?

Flu and COVID-19 are both infectious respiratory illnesses caused by different viruses. COVID-19 is caused by infection with coronavirus (called SARS-CoV-2) and flu is caused by infection with an influenza virus.

 

Doctor is holding a vaccination record card and corona virus vaccine vials. Passport of immunity to the coronavirus in the hands of a male doctor. Health passport.

COVID Vaccine Interval Updates

The CDC has updated its guidance on COVID-19 Vaccine Intervals for the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines.

As of February 22, 2022, the CDC added considerations for an 8-week interval between the first and second doses of a primary mRNA vaccine series (Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines).

  • An eight-week interval may be optimal for some people ages 12 years and older, especially for males ages 12 to 39 years.
  • mRNA vaccines remain safe and effective, and the longer interval is intended to further reduce the low risk of myocarditis in younger males.
  • A shorter interval (3 weeks for Pfizer-BioNTech; 4 weeks for Moderna) between the first and second doses remains the recommended interval for people who are moderately or severely immunocompromised; children ages 5-11 years and adults 65 and older; and others who need rapid protection due to increased concern about community transmission or risk of severe disease.
  • Efforts to increase the number of people in the United States who are up-to-date with their COVID-19 vaccines remain critical to preventing illnesses, hospitalizations, and deaths from COVID-19.

 

Closeup shot of an unrecognizable pharmacist assisting a customer in a chemist

COVID Treatment Updates

The FDA has authorized two oral antivirals for the treatment of COVID-19 in certain patients. Individuals who receive a positive COVID-19 test result through Erie County Department of Health’s (ECDOH) COVID-19 testing services will be offered a prescription for an oral antiviral if they are eligible.

The FDA has authorized two oral antivirals, Pfizer’s Paxlovid and Merck’s molnupiravir, for the treatment of COVID-19 in certain patients who:

  • Have tested positive for COVID-19 and have had symptoms for five days or less
  • Are at high risk for progression to severe COVID-19, including hospitalization or death
  • Meet certain criteria depending on the antiviral

As of Monday, April 11, 2022, individuals who receive a positive COVID-19 test result through Erie County Department of Health’s (ECDOH) COVID-19 testing services will be offered a prescription for Paxlovid, if they are eligible.

COVID-19 treatment

  • Erie County residents who attend an ECDOH operated testing site (see below), and who test positive on a rapid test, will be offered a script for treatment if eligible. This program is not available to those tested on Fridays after 12:00 p.m. or on Saturdays. Those individuals should contact their healthcare provider (HCP) for treatment options. For questions about this program, talk to the testing site or call 716-858-2929.
  • If you tested positive at a different site, please contact your healthcare provider. Those without a healthcare provider can contact the following agencies: Community Health Center of Buffalo 716-986-9199 and Neighborhood Health Center 716-332-3070.

Is the treatment free?

  • Any costs or co-pays associated with filling these prescriptions are the responsibility of the patient. However, most public and private health insurance plans cover the costs, in full or in part, for appropriately dispensed Paxlovid prescriptions. Costs for people who are uninsured may be covered by New York State.

ECDOH COVID-19 testing locations

Current ECDOH COVID-19 testing locations are set up at the ECDOH Health Clinics at 608 William Street in Buffalo, the Cheektowaga Senior Center, and the Erie County Emergency and Training Operations Center. Each location offers free testing: a PCR test, with results in about 1-3 business days, or a rapid test, with results in about 15 minutes. Appointments are suggested but walk-ins are welcome; call (716) 858-2929 for more information.

  • 608 William St., Buffalo: weekdays, 9 a.m. – 3 p.m. [This site will not be open on Friday, April 15 (Good Friday)]
  • Cheektowaga Senior Center, 3349 Broadway: Monday-Thursday, 8 a.m. – 4 p.m.
    Please do not enter the Senior Center for testing. Please follow the signs to the back of the building.
  • Erie County Emergency and Training Operations Center, 3359 Broadway: Friday, 8 a.m. – 4 p.m. and Saturday, 9 a.m. – 12 p.m.

More information

People with a positive COVID-19 test result from another lab or health care facility, or from an at-home self-collected test, should consult with their doctor to discuss treatment options. This prescription option is not available for students and school staff who receive a positive COVID-19 test result from in-school testing programs. Find additional “Test to Treat” locations.