- FDA News
by Skippack Pharmacy
The Pandemic’s Officially “Over” – Now What?
It has been just over a month now since the National and Public Health Emergencies for COVID-19 have ended. As we enter the next stage of life with COVID-19, there are a few things that have changed and a few things that have stayed the same. We assembled a top 5 Q/A-style sheet for you to take a look! We hope this helps answer any questions you have about this new phase.
- Is the COVID-19 virus still around? Can I still get sick?
It’s true that the SARS-CoV-2 virus continues to exist and infect patients. While variants continue to emerge, the community protection through vaccination, herd immunity, and decreasing trend of COVID-19 deaths, hospitalizations, and ICU admissions has allowed us to move from a “pandemic” to an “endemic” stage of managing the disease. This means that we will fight COVID-19 through the same channels as other major contagious diseases, such as the flu. With our protections in place, most people who get infected now have a relatively minor case compared to the highly dangerous and contagious infections seen over the pandemic. There’s also much to be learned about the long-term effects of COVID-19 infections and the risk that the virus could mutate significantly enough to overcome our current vaccines and cause widespread harm. Regardless, the real work to recovery has only begun. If you have not received a COVID19 vaccine, you still may, and can find more information on our website here.
- How does coverage for COVID-19 vaccines and services change?
Coverage for services depends on the type of insurance plan, but across both private and public insurances, coverage for general COVID-19 vaccines will continue. Medicare, Medicaid and Commercial Plans will still continue to cover COVID19 vaccinations. Unfortunately, access to 8 free at-home COVID-19 tests will no longer be available to every patient. Medicaid plans (i.e. Keystone First, Health Partners, etc.) and some commercial plans may still include at-home tests as a supplemental benefit, but this will depend on the specific plan. If you are unsure, please go on to our website and fill out a form.
- Do I still need to wear a mask anywhere?
Wearing a mask is a useful tool to prevent the spread of both COVID-19 and other infectious diseases. However, due to the low risk of spread, Skippack Pharmacy no longer requires masks in the store. The same applies for many businesses and public places. While masks are largely not mandated anymore, they continue to provide benefits and can be helpful especially for people who are sick and need to be in public.
- Will COVID-19 Reporting Continue?
The CDC is changing how they monitor the impact of COVID-19. They continue to track COVID-19 hospital admissions, weekly deaths, weekly ER visits where the patient receives a COVID-19 diagnosis, wastewater and genomic surveillance to track transmission and determine how the virus is mutating, and the count of COVID-19 vaccines administered (only for jurisdictions who continue to submit data). However, COVID-19 case and death data are no longer highlighted on the COVID Data Tracker. Additionally, national and county-level test positivity data from the COVID-19 Electronic Reporting system are no longer available, as laboratories are no longer required to report these results. Lastly, the V-safe tracking system for health check-ins after vaccination health check-ins is ending. Patients can continue to report any possible health issues or adverse events after vaccination to the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS).
- What can I do to stay healthy?
Continue to be aware of your health! The pandemic reminded us about some of our core precautions to keep a clean environment, such as washing our hands regularly and covering our mouth when coughing. If you feel sick, stay home if you can. Look after yourself. Take that extra mental health day. If you can, spend time outside and get exercise. Look towards dietary options that promote wellness and nutrition. If you’re interested in learning more about our supplements, stop in and let us know! It’s crucial that we all do our part to stop the spread of germs, including COVID-19. We’ll be sure to provide updates for any new changes that come up with required vaccines — a new COVID19 vaccine and new flu vaccine are anticipated for early Fall (September). Stay tuned & subscribe to our email list for updates and follow us on Facebook!
The information contained in this article is intended for educational and promotional purposes only. It is not intended as specific medical advice. Call us or visit us in person and speak with a pharmacist for specific medication queries and consult with your physician or provider for your specific medical condition or health goals.
Author: Dr. Philip Mathew, PharmD