This week on the Health Report, the Minnesota Department of Health has announced a new telehealth program to help people receive treatment for COVID19. And Bivalent COVID19 vaccines are now available for the youngest age group; Chaz Wagner has more.
The state of Minnesota has launched a new program to help Minnesotans have better access to COVID19 treatments when they get sick. The new test-to-treat telehealth program connects people who test positive to a healthcare provider that can help determine if they are a candidate for COVID19 treatment. The new program is available to Minnesotans that test positive for covid on at-home tests or a tests done at a testing site or clinic.
The telehealth visits happen through the Cue Health app on Apple or Android phones. According to the Minnesota Department of Health, patients will video chat with a healthcare provider and then, if necessary, have a prescription written to be filled at a local clinic or by home delivery.
The new telehealth program aims to increase access to COVID19 anti-viral medications, including Paxlovid. The medication is available to people at higher risk for complications while having COVID19 but can only be prescribed within the first five days of symptoms. Minnesota Commissioner of Health Jan Malcolm calls telehealth another tool for limiting the negative effects of covid 19. She said in a press release “We know that accessing therapeutics within five days of developing symptoms of COVID-19 can greatly improve outcomes and help Minnesotans to avoid severe illness or hospitalization.”
The CDC and FDA have approved bivalent COVID19 boosters for children ages 6 months through 5 years.
Health officials are continuing to remind Minnesotans that the best way to protect themselves and their community against COVID19 is to get the updated booster after receiving their primary doses of the vaccine. The latest vaccine, known as the bivalent booster, was recently approved for children ages 6 months to 5 years. This new booster helps protect against some of the recently circulating covid.
This youngest age group can either get the booster two months after completing the Moderna primary series or as the third dose of the Pfizer primary series. The CDC says the “vast” majority of children in this age group have not received any dose of a COVID Vaccine. However, they recommend that parents talk with their child’s healthcare provider to keep their children up to date on their COVID-19 and other vaccines.
Native community members can check with their local IHS clinic, the Native American Community Clinic, The Indian Health Board, the Division of Indian work, and the American Indian Community Housing Organization to find out how to schedule an appointment or visit a vaccination event. All Minnesotans can check with their regular healthcare provider, local pharmacy, or visit a state-run vaccination site.
In related news, A new round of free at-home Covid tests are available through the state of Minnesota as well as the federal government.
Chaz Wagner reporting for the Minnesota Native News Health Report
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