With the emergence of a new COVID-19 variant detected in our state, emergency departments are once again experiencing an increase in patients seeking care. Emergency departments play a critical role in caring for urgent and emergent medical needs, including severe COVID symptoms such as respiratory distress, severe shortness of breath or high and persistent fever. However, for patients seeking testing or care for mild symptoms, officials with INTEGRIS Health recommend not visiting the ER.
“Our emergency departments are being inundated with people wanting to be COVID tested without emergent medical needs,” a representative said in a press release from INTEGRIS Health. “While some of these visits may be warranted, others are most appropriate for a COVID testing location, allowing emergency departments to conserve resources.”
Testing continues to be an important part in managing the spread of COVID-19. Many community testing sites are available, and many offer free PCR as well as rapid antigen tests.
As of Jan. 5, 2022, the CDC updated their recommendation to allow those who had an initial series of Pfizer to receive a booster dose five months after their last shot. This now includes those 12 to 15 years of age.
“We encourage families to talk with their primary care providers about vaccinating their kids and now boosting those who are in the 12 to 15 age group,” said Keith Reed, interim commissioner of health.
Additionally, the CDC is recommending that kids ages 5-11 years old who are moderately or severely immunocompromised receive an additional primary dose of the Pfizer vaccine 28 days after their second shot.