AMARILLO, Texas (KAMR/KCIT) – Although the coronavirus pandemic remains an issue at the forefront of the lives of those in the United States and the world at large, there have also been advancements in preventative measures and treatment, including vaccines, antiviral treatments, and monoclonal antibody infusions.
Here’s an overview of vaccines, testing, and treatment for COVID-19 in the Amarillo area.
Vaccines and booster shots
As explained by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there are currently four approved or authorized vaccines in the US used to prevent COVID-19, including:
- Pfizer-BioNTech (mRNA vaccine)
- Moderna (mRNA vaccine)
- Novavax (protein subunit vaccine)
- Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen (viral vector vaccine)
In Amarillo, the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines are the most commonly available and those offered by the Amarillo Public Health Department. The “primary series” for each vaccine consists of two doses that are at least 21 (Pfizer-BioNTech) to 28 (Moderna) days apart. However, for people who are considered moderately to severely immunocompromised, their “primary series” also includes a third dose before they are considered fully vaccinated.
At least five months after the primary series, or two months for those who have received the J&J vaccine, those who have received the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine, recipients may be eligible for booster shots. Immunocompromised people were recommended to receive booster doses at least three months after their primary series.
More information on the COVID-19 vaccines and boosters can be found on the Amarillo Public Health Department website. Further, free COVID-19 vaccinations are offered at the department’s facility at 850 Martin Rd on a walk-in basis, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on weekdays.
The Amarillo City Transit system also offers free rides to the Amarillo Public Health Department COVID-19 vaccination clinic and can be requested by calling 806-378-3095.
Alongside the Amarillo Public Health Department, pharmacies such as CVS and Walgreens and other clinics also offer COVID-19 vaccines, including:
- Amarillo Family Physicians
- Amigos Pharmacy
- Care Xpress Urgent Care
- CVS Pharmacy
- Martin-Tipton Pharmacy, LLC
- Market Street Pharmacy
- Sam’s Club Pharmacy
- United Pharmacy
- Walgreens Pharmacy
- Walmart Pharmacy
The CDC also announced new recommendations earlier in September for updated COVID-19 booster shots, which focus on the new “bivalent” booster shot now available to those 12 years of age and older.
Because of a lack of Congressional funding, according to the COVID.gov website, the free at-home test program from the US government was suspended at the beginning of September. However, at-home tests and antigen tests for COVID-19 are still available through retailers, pharmacies, and free testing sites.
The Amarillo Public Health Department hosts a drive-thru testing site available free of charge and open on weekdays. A department operator with further information on testing through the City of Amarillo can be reached at 806-378-6300.
Outside of Amarillo’s Public Health Department, other COVID-19 testing locations include health centers, independent pharmacies, and businesses such as CVS, Walgreens, and Walmart, among others. The Texas Department of Emergency Management has published resources for finding further testing sites across communities.
As noted by the health department, key times to get tested for COVID-19 include:
- If a person has symptoms;
- If a person was exposed to COVID-19 and does not have symptoms, they should test at least five full days after exposure;
- Those in certain high-risk settings may need to test as part of a screening program;
- Those who may soon be in contact with someone at high risk for severe COVID-19, especially in areas with medium or high COVID-19 community levels.
More information on testing, isolation and precautions, and post-test COVID-19 result instructions can be found here.
As described by the Amarillo Public Health Department, healthcare providers may prescribe COVID-19 treatments to eligible patients that can reduce the chance of being hospitalized or dying from the disease. Those more likely to experience severe illness from COVID-19 include older adults, people who have certain medical conditions such as weakened immune systems, and unvaccinated people.
The FDA issued emergency use authorizations for certain antiviral medications and monoclonal antibodies to treat mild to moderate COVID-19 in eligible patients:
- Antiviral treatments work to target specific parts of the virus to stop it from multiplying
- Monoclonal antibodies work to help the immune system recognize and respond to the virus, though this may make them less effective against COVID-19 variants
Treatment locations can be found through the COVID-19 Therapeutics Locator.
Other COVID-19 treatments include Paxlovid, according to the health department:
- Oral antivirals are available by prescription only
- Authorized for patients who are experiencing mild to moderate COVID-19 symptoms
- Treatment must be started within five days of the initial onset of COVID-19 symptoms
- Patients who are not hospitalized
- Paxlovid is available for those who are 12 years or older and weigh at least 88 pounds
Outside of COVID-19-specific treatments, the health department noted that most people with COVID-19 are able to recover at home and can use either the Coronavirus Self-Checker to assist in deciding whether or not to seek care. Otherwise, symptoms can often be helped using over-the-counter medications such as acetaminophen (Tylenol) or ibuprofen (Motrin, Advil).
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