COVID-19 Vaccination, Testing, and Information

COVID-19 is caused by the SARS-CoV-2 virus that can cause a variety of symptoms in human beings ranging from mild to fatal. This virus is currently considered a pandemic and has spread rapidly throughout the world, including Virginia and Charlottesville. It appears that the dominant Omicron variant and subvariants seem to be much more of an upper respiratory tract infection (throat, ears, sinuses) than a lower respiratory tract infection (lungs). The majority of patients who have had the recent Omicron variant reported 1-2 days of feeling very unwell with fever, chills, headache, body aches as well as very runny nose and some cough. Fortunately the severe symptoms seem to improve fairly quickly though the cough and congestion can last for several weeks. Adults over the age of 60 years and those with underlying illnesses are at greater risk for more severe disease. The typical onset between exposure and symptoms averages 5 days (the range is from 2-14 days), and the typical onset between exposure and severe illness is about 11 days. COVID-19 spreads easily and rapidly between people via respiratory droplets, even from those who don’t yet have symptoms or those who never develop any symptoms. Depending on the level of community transmission masking indoors or other crowded areas may be recommended. You can find our levels of community transmission and CDC recommendations here.

Vaccination Information

We encourage all eligible patients to be vaccinated against COVID-19. If you have a history of an allergic reaction to any vaccine, or a chemical called polyethylene glycol (the ingredient in Miralax), you should consult with Dr. Hargrove or your allergist before consenting to be vaccinated. Every eligible individual should receive at least 3 doses of an mRNA vaccine (Pfizer or Moderna) and individuals with high risk conditions or over the age of 60 should contact us to determine if they should receive a 4th dose.

Vaccines can be obtained through the Blue Ridge Health Department or the majority of local pharmacies. We do not anticipate receiving doses of the COVID-19 vaccine to administer to patients of Ivy Family Medicine due to the size of our practice and logistics involved.

Testing Information

In the early days of the pandemic the PCR tests (the ones that made your eyes water and tickled your brain) were the gold standard tests we relied on to diagnose COVID. Now we feel that the rapid antigen home tests are more useful to identify how contagious someone is, which makes them a better test for reducing the spread of the virus. If you have symptoms that involve your sinuses, chest, head or energy levels, even if you feel certain that they are allergies or a sinus infection, you should test for COVID using a rapid antigen test at home. It is important to remember that if you have symptoms, or have had a close exposure to someone infected with the virus, a single negative COVID test is not a guarantee that you do not have COVID. If your symptoms persist, it can take several days of testing to actually detect the virus on a home test. We are out of rapid antigen tests at the office, but can still obtain and send PCR tests through UVA if needed. The testing is no longer free and will be billed to insurance or self pay (cost $80-$110). You can order up to three sets of free COVID tests from the government. You can also obtain free testing through the Blue Ridge Health Department or pay for testing at a local testing center.

If you do test positive and have questions, worrisome symptoms, or think you might be eligible to receive Paxlovid due to the presence of a high risk condition please contact us.

Reliable Sources of Information

There are many brilliant people actively working to address the current pandemic. It is critical that you get information from reliable sources. I recommend:

The CDC website

The Blue Ridge Health District website

The Virginia Department of Health website

The Red Cross

The Associated Press website

The PBS News Hour website