SNAP benefits are increasing. How can we make the most of them?

October 20, 2021 -

One in eight of all people in the US receives food access assistance each month through the federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance (SNAP) program, but for decades, SNAP participants have struggled to afford the ingredients they need to eat healthy or even to have enough to eat toward the end of the month. Now, after a long-overdue evaluation of SNAP benefit levels, things are about to get a little easier: this month, SNAP participants will see a roughly 25% increase in their monthly benefits, a change that may reduce hunger and improve nutrition and overall health outcomes. 

Since 1975, SNAP benefit levels have been determined by what the USDA calls the Thrifty Food Plan (TFP), which estimates how much it costs for a person to purchase all the food they need to eat a healthy diet. These guidelines were last revised in 2006; for the past 15 years, SNAP benefits have averaged out to only $1.80 per meal per person. Since a typical healthy meal costs a lot more than $1.80, at least 75% of households use up their current SNAP benefits in the first half of the month. The guidelines were also based on some problematic assumptions: 

  • The TFP didn’t take into account the difference in food prices from one region to another;
  • It based costs for a family benefit on a family with children under 12, not larger and hungrier teenagers;  
  • It assumed SNAP participants would be able to take time-saving measures like soaking dried beans instead of buying more convenient canned beans, which is often impossible for busy working families. 

More than 90% of SNAP recipients live below the poverty level across the US, and Black and Brown people are more likely than White people to experience food insecurity. Closing the gap between what SNAP offers and what people need to eat healthy meals addresses hunger, but it’s also a step toward racial and economic justice. Chronic food insecurity is a barrier to overall health and thriving that has persisted in Black, Brown, and low-income communities for generations. It can also contribute to a wide range of other problems, like behavioral issues and academic struggles for kids, physical and mental health struggles, and greater risk of hospital admission. Giving SNAP participants the resources they need to eat healthy meals all month long can help build a foundation for health and opportunity in other areas of SNAP participants’ lives. 

Now that benefits are increasing, how can we be sure people who are food insecure in Richmond and Henrico are able to make the most of the program? Here are a few ways to get involved: 

 

Apply for SNAP, even if you aren’t sure you qualify.  

Virginia ranks 43 out of 50 states when it comes to SNAP participation—only 72% of eligible people participate. The process of applying for SNAP can be overwhelming, and before the increase it may have felt like the benefits weren’t worth the paperwork. Now that benefits are increasing, anyone who thinks they may be eligible to participate in SNAP should consider applying: 

  • Visit the CommonHelp website to fill out a SNAP application online, or call (833) 5CALLVA for assistance from a CommonHelp advisor. 
  • Richmond and Henrico Public Schools families can apply for SNAP with support from their Communities in Schools Liaison. Check the CIS website to find the liaison for your school, or call 804-358-1CIS (1247). 
  • Residents of public housing communities in Richmond or the Southwood apartment community can connect with Community Health Workers at RHHD’s Resource Center sites for support in applying for SNAP benefits.  


If you are a SNAP participant, shop at a Virginia Fresh Match store or farmers market. 

The Virginia Fresh Match program works with participating grocery stores and farmers' markets to double the amount of produce SNAP participants can buy at no additional cost. Some local vendors include the Market @ 25th, Birdhouse Farmers Market, On the Square Farmers Market, and Dorey Park Farmers Market. For a complete list, check out the Virginia Fresh Match website. 

 

If you’re not a SNAP participant, shop at VA Fresh Match stores and markets (and encourage your favorite store to participate!). 

The Virginia Fresh Match program works with participating grocery stores and farmers markets to double the amount of produce SNAP participants can buy at no additional cost. By shopping at Virginia Fresh Match stores and markets, you’re supporting businesses that make it easier for SNAP participants to eat affordable, healthy meals. If your favorite grocery store or market doesn’t participate, contact them and ask them to become a Virginia Fresh Match vendor, or reach out to Virginia Fresh Match and get involved in their outreach work. 

 

City Council and State Representatives can help extend Virginia Fresh Match. 

The Virginia Fresh Match program makes it easier for SNAP participants to buy the fresh fruits and vegetables they need to cook healthy meals, but the program won’t necessarily last forever. Virginia Fresh Match is funded through a USDA grant currently, but investments by state and local government could ensure the program will continue beyond the grant period. Encourage your City Councilperson or State Representative to explore continuing the Fresh Match after federal funding expires.

 

Now, after a long-overdue evaluation of SNAP benefit levels, things are about to get a little easier: this month, SNAP participants will see a roughly 25% increase in their monthly benefits, a change that may reduce hunger and improve nutrition and overall health outcomes.

 

RHHD recomienda el uso de mascarillas en lugares de encuentro en el interior

Use una mascarilla en lugares interiores. Incluso si está vacunado. 

30 de julio del 2021: Los distritos de salud de Richmond y Henrico recomiendan ahora a todos el uso de mascarilla en el interior mientras estén cerca de otras personas que no forman parte de su hogar, independientemente de su estado de vacunación contra el COVID-19. A raíz de los nuevos datos que sugieren que las vacunas contra el COVID-19 podrían no evitar que una persona vacunada propague el COVID-19 causado por la variante Delta, los CDC recomiendan en estos momentos el uso de mascarillas en interiores en zonas con una transmisión comunitaria elevada o alta de COVID-19. Tanto la ciudad de Richmond como el condado de Henrico están experimentando una transmisión comunitaria elevada. 

Esta recomendación local permanecerá en vigor hasta que se notifique lo contrario, incluso si la transmisión comunitaria cae a niveles moderados o bajos. Los expertos clínicos y epidemiológicos de RHHD tendrán en cuenta la transmisión comunitaria, los casos, las hospitalizaciones, las muertes y los datos de vacunación – así como las leyes y directrices federales y estatales, para cambiar la recomendación de la mascarilla universal.

“Creemos que esta recomendación facilitará el seguimiento sistemático de las indicaciones de los CDC”, explica la Dra. Viray, subdirectora de los distritos de salud de Richmond y Henrico. “La gente puede saber simplemente que tiene que coger una mascarilla al salir por la puerta sin tener que consultar en los paneles de salud pública la transmisión comunitaria.”  

La vacuna contra el COVID-19 sigue siendo la mejor manera de protegerse de los efectos graves del COVID-19, incluyendo la enfermedad causada por la variante Delta. Las vacunas contra el COVID-19 siguen impidiendo la transmisión de muchas variantes existentes, así como el desarrollo de nuevas variantes.

“Quiero resaltar la seguridad y eficacia de todas las vacunas contra el COVID-19 actualmente disponibles”, dice Amy Popovich, la directora de enfermería de RHHD. “Tenemos este increíble recurso ampliamente disponible que nos ayudará a poner fin a la pandemia. Si aún no está seguro de la vacuna, llámenos y pregúntenos sus dudas. ” 

Para obtener información sobre las posibilidades de vacunación contra el COVID-19 en el zona de Richmond y Henrico, visite a vax.rchd.com o llame al 804-205-3501. 

“Quiero resaltar la seguridad y eficacia de todas las vacunas contra el COVID-19 disponibles actualmente”, dice Amy Popovich, la directora de enfermería de RHHD. “Tenemos este increíble recurso ampliamente disponible que nos ayudará a poner fin a la pandemia. Si aún no está seguro de la vacuna, llámenos y pregúntenos sus dudas. ” 

 

Acerca de los distritos sanitarios de Richmond y Henrico: RHHD son agencias de salud pública hermanas que sirven a las comunidades de Richmond y Henrico. Nuestra misión es exponer y abordar las causas fundamentales de las disparidades sanitaria, proteger la salud previniendo la propagación de enfermedades y generar equidad sanitaria asociándonos con las comunidades y trabajando en colaboración con todos los sectores.

RHHD RECOMMENDS MASK WEARING IN INDOOR GATHERING PLACES

July 30, 2021 - Richmond and Henrico Health Districts now recommend everyone wear a mask indoors while around others who are not a part of their household, regardless of COVID-19 vaccination status. Following new data that suggest COVID-19 vaccines might not prevent a vaccinated person from spreading COVID-19 caused by the Delta variant, the CDC now recommends areas with high or substantial COVID-19 community transmission wear masks indoors. Both Richmond City and Henrico County are experiencing substantial community transmission. 

This local recommendation will remain in effect until otherwise notified, even if community transmission dips to moderate or low levels. RHHD’s clinical and epidemiological experts will consider community transmission, cases, hospitalizations, deaths, and vaccination data -as well as federal and state laws and guidelines-  to change the universal mask recommendation.

“We believe that this recommendation will make it easier to consistently follow CDC guidance,” explains Dr. Viray, Deputy Director of Richmond and Henrico Health Districts. “Folks can just know to grab a mask when heading out the door without having to look up community transmission on public health dashboards.”  

The COVID-19 vaccine continues to be the best way to protect yourself from the serious effects of COVID-19, inclusive of illness caused by the Delta variant. COVID-19 vaccines still prevent the transmission of many existing variants, as well as the development of new variants. 

“I want to highlight the safety and efficacy of all the COVID-19 vaccines currently available,” says Amy Popovich, Nurse Manager at RHHD. “We have this incredible resource widely available that will help us end the pandemic. If you’re still unsure about the vaccine, please give us a call and ask us your questions.” 

For information on COVID-19 vaccine opportunities in the Richmond and Henrico area, visit vax.rchd.com or call 804-205-3501. 

 

About Richmond and Henrico Health Districts: RHHD are sister public health agencies serving Richmond’s and Henrico’s communities. Our mission is to expose and address the root causes of health disparities, protect health by preventing the spread of disease, and build health equity by partnering with communities and working collaboratively across sectors.

 

“I want to highlight the safety and efficacy of all the COVID-19 vaccines currently available,” says Amy Popovich, Nurse Manager at RHHD. “We have this incredible resource widely available that will help us end the pandemic. If you’re still unsure about the vaccine, please give us a call and ask us your questions.” 

 

Hurricane Preparedness: What you need to know (and why you should start now)

Hurricane Preparedness: What you need to know (and why you should start now)

We get it: life is hectic, especially in the summer, and it’s understandable if preparing for a hurricane-related emergency feels like it doesn’t fit on your to-do list.  But preparing for a hurricane is more manageable than you might think, and making a plan now can help to protect you and your family from serious harm. 

Once you have a plan and some supplies in place, it’s much easier to update them and stay safe year after year. Richmond and Henrico Health Districts have all the info you need to be as prepared as possible for the upcoming hurricane season.

 

When is hurricane season at its peak in Central Virginia?

Hurricane season runs from June 1 to November 30, but the risk of a serious weather event is at its peak in Central Virginia between mid-August and mid-October. 

 

Last year’s hurricanes were especially severe. What is the prediction for this year?

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is predicting an active, above-normal Atlantic hurricane season for 2021. However, experts do not anticipate the historic level of storm activity seen in 2020. For 2021, NOAA is predicting 13 to 20 named storms (winds of 39 mph or higher), 6 to 10 of which could become hurricanes (winds of 74 mph or higher), including 3 to 5 major hurricanes (category 3, 4 or 5; with winds of 111 mph or higher). 

 

What are the risks for our region?

Central Virginia can experience dangerous flooding, destructive winds, and tornadoes when a hurricane makes landfall. Flooding is the most dangerous risk and can be caused quickly by excessive rainfall. In the high heat of August and September, hurricanes can also cause power outages that expose residents to extreme heat conditions in their own homes. 

 

What are the most important steps to prepare?

Keep your cell phone charged when a hurricane or severe storm is in the forecast.

Consider signing up for Emergency Alerts from the National Weather service.

Put together emergency kits for your home and car.

A supply kit for your home should include:

    • Water – one gallon of water per person per day for at least three days, for drinking and sanitation
    • Food – a three-day supply of non-perishable food
    • First aid supplies and medications
    • Clothing and bedding
    • Tools and emergency supplies
    • Important family documents
    • Masks and hand sanitizer to protect against COVID-19 if you must leave your home

Store your emergency kit in an area where you can get to it quickly.  Put contents in a large, watertight container (e.g. a large plastic garbage can with a lid and wheels) that you can move easily. Make sure everyone in your family knows where to find the emergency kit.

A supply kit for your car should include:

    • Blankets
    • First Aid Kit
    • Jumper cables
    • Cell phone/charger
    • Tool kit
    • Water
    • Canned or dried foods and a can opener
    • Flashlight and extra batteries
    • Masks and hand sanitizer to protect against COVID-19 

The Virginia Department of Health has a helpful supply checklist available for download to help you prepare. 

 

If you haven’t yet, get your COVID vaccine, and plan to take other steps to protect yourself against COVID in an emergency.

During an evacuation or other serious emergency, you may encounter other community members in a shelter, hospital, or other public setting. Vaccination is the best protection against COVID-19, but the CDC has more detailed guidance about how best to protect yourself against COVID-19 if you must leave your home during a weather emergency. 

 

Make a plan for your pets.

The Virginia Department of Health has a disaster supply checklist specifically for pets and other helpful tips on how to make sure your pet stays safe during an emergency. 

 

For more information about how to stay safe during and after a hurricane, Check out these resources:  

 

What special steps will the health department take to keep us safe during hurricane season in a pandemic?

RHHD will continue to work with the Department of Social Services, local emergency management, and other partners to prepare to stand up emergency shelters if needed due to widespread damage or power outages. VDH is also providing partners across our region with guidance for sheltering during the COVID-19 pandemic, including social distancing, sanitation, and other mitigation measures to be implemented in an emergency shelter.

If emergency shelters are in use, VDH will prioritize COVID testing for shelter sites to help prevent or contain any potential outbreaks. 

 

NOAA predicts an active, above normal, hurricane season this year. Be prepared: Keep your cell phone charged when hurricanes are forecast; prepare emergency kits for your home and car; make a plan for your pets.  

 

Richmond Declares Racism a Public Health Crisis

On Monday, July 26, Richmond joined more than 200 other localities across the US to declare racism a public health crisis. By unanimous decision, Richmond City Council adopted the declaration and committed not only to acknowledging disparities and injustices but to becoming an actively anti-racist government that centers racial justice work in all aspects of its work. This is a huge step for our city, though the declaration itself is only a symbol that will need to be followed by bold and consistent action in order to create real change. 

Systemic racism in Richmond has taken an enormous toll on the health of Black residents for generations and persists in countless ways today. The Center on Society and Health at VCU found that residents of low-income Black communities in the East End of Richmond have a life expectancy that is 20 years shorter on average than White residents in wealthy West End neighborhoods. Black residents are also at far greater risk of experiencing pregnancy complications and premature birth, chronic disease, housing and food insecurity, asthma, violence, and personal and community trauma, among many other challenges. Recent data also shows that Black residents of Richmond accounted for 62% of the city’s COVID-19 cases, though they make up only 47% of the city’s population. 

These health disparities are primarily caused not by residents’ behavior and choices but by the social determinants of health: the underlying conditions that determine a person’s ability to be healthy and well, such as safe housing and neighborhoods, education and job opportunities, healthcare access and quality, and systemic and overt racism. Richmond and Henrico Health Districts are committed to doing as much as we can to dismantle the systems that help racism, trauma, and health disparities to persist. 

In April, when racism was declared a public health crisis in Virginia, our Director of Health Equity, Jackie Lawrence, outlined some calls to action for RHHD as we deepen our health equity and racial justice work. Here’s what Jackie outlined as the kind of work you can expect from RHHD, and we welcome opportunities to talk and partner with you on the road ahead: 

We will name and respect the collective trauma we continue to experience. We cannot expect ourselves to operate outside of these authentic, very visceral emotions, and our work will get heavier as we move further into confronting racism and systemic injustice in our work. RHHD is working to normalize a culture that encourages staff to take time to process their emotions, whether it is taking a day off or taking 15 minutes to breathe between meetings. We encourage our partners to promote this culture of empathy and self-care within their workplaces as well. 

We will challenge ourselves and each other every day to ask hard questions without being afraid of the conversations and changes that will follow. “What does health and wellness truly mean to me, and to the communities we serve?” “Have I made space to address my own healing so that I can better serve the community?” “How has my position or department upheld the inequities I have read about or experienced?” We will also continue to rely on partners and community members to hold a mirror up for us and help us see when we need to rethink our philosophy or approach. 

We will become the kind of agency that radically imagines, plans, and implements systems changes that can remove obstacles, ensure resilience, and highlight joy in communities of color. Institutional racism has prevented people of color from accessing high-quality, culturally responsive care and resources for generations, and these disparities result in deep harm and trauma, including the increase in gun violence we have seen in recent weeks. This work is difficult, but it is essential, and we are ready to do whatever we can. 

Richmond is the first locality in Virginia to declare racism a public health crisis. Along with the declaration, City Council has committed to reviewing policies through an anti-racist lens; requiring anti-racism training for city officials and employees; and creating a task force to establish a police oversight and accountability board. RHHD is proud to partner in this work and is eager to see how Richmond’s anti-racist efforts continue to expand and evolve following this powerful declaration.

Public health impacts of marijuana legalization in Virginia

Public health impacts of marijuana legalization in Virginia

As of July 1, 2021, marijuana is legal for adults ages 21+ in Virginia. Marijuana is the most commonly used drug that is not fully legal across the US. Evidence shows that in other states across the US, marijuana legalization has a positive correlation with both public safety and racial and economic justice. Historically, Black and Brown people are incarcerated at much higher rates for marijuana possession than their White counterparts, despite possessing marijuana at similar rates. Marijuana legalization has the potential to reduce incarceration rates in Black and Brown communities; reduce the whole-family trauma and instability that often results from incarceration; and create an opportunity for police departments to refocus their efforts on preventing violent crime, community policing, and practices that lead to community healing, not community fragmentation.

What is actually legal now? 

It is important to understand that marijuana is now legal in Virginia only in certain contexts and amounts. You can read the full guidelines at cannnabis.virginia.gov. Here’s an overview of what you need to know: 

  • Marijuana possession is legal only for adults aged 21 and older. It is still illegal for anyone under 21 to possess or use marijuana. 
  • Adults 21+ can possess up to one ounce of marijuana legally. Possessing more than one ounce is illegal and can result in a civil penalty fine. Possessing more than a pound is a felony. 
  • Adults can use marijuana in private residences, but the owner of a private residence can restrict marijuana use on their property. 
  • Adults can have up to four marijuana plants per household. 
  • Adults can share marijuana with each other but cannot sell it or trade it for another good or service. 
  • Existing safety measures will remain in place, like prohibiting the use of marijuana while driving or riding in a vehicle or on school grounds. 
  • Consuming marijuana or offering it to another person in a public place is still illegal.  

If you plan to use marijuana or spend time with people who do, it’s important to understand the laws as well as any policies your employer or landlord may have regarding marijuana use. For helpful real-life tips on how to follow the law when possessing or using marijuana, check out the ACLU of Virginia’s quick guide to legal marijuana use. 

 

What do we know about marijuana safety? 

While marijuana is widely used both recreationally and medicinally, we don’t have extensive research on its effects—hopefully, this will change as more states choose to legalize marijuana. However, we do know some side effects that are important to consider: 

  • Smoking marijuana can lead to a greater risk of bronchitis, cough, and phlegm production. 
  • Smoking marijuana can be carcinogenic (cancer-causing—like cigarettes) 
  • Marijuana raises your heart rate. Smoking marijuana has been linked to an increased risk of heart disease and stroke. 
  • Heavy use may cause difficulty w/ attention, short-term memory, and anxiety & other mood changes.
  • Heavy marijuana use in a person’s early 20s or teenage years may affect cognitive development long-term given that the brain is not fully formed at this age. 
  • Marijuana can be addictive. About 1 in 10 users will become addicted, including 1 in 6 people who begin smoking before adulthood. 
  • Second-hand marijuana smoke is a concern for bystanders’ health given that it is carcinogenic and increases the risk of a cough and other respiratory issues.  
  • There have been no reported cases of marijuana overdose in Virginia, so overdose is not a known risk.

For adults ages 21+ who choose to use marijuana, there are some things you can do to practice safer marijuana use: 

  • Tell your primary care provider about your marijuana use or if you’re interested in starting use for recreational or medicinal purposes.
  • Similar to alcohol and other substances, it’s recommended to avoid using marijuana while you are pregnant. 
  • Using marijuana can impair your reaction time and judgment. Do not use marijuana and drive. 
  • Avoid exposing others -particularly children- to secondhand smoke. 
  • For more information on the health impacts of marijuana use, please visit the CDC’s marijuana info page.  

 

The Summer of Vax is going Street to Street! 

 

This summer, RHHD’s Mobile Vaccination Van will be making its way across the city Street to Street to invite more of our friends and neighbors to get the COVID-19 vaccine. Street to Street will launch on June 25th on 25th Street in Church Hill. If you’ll be on 25th on the 25th, here’s how you can connect with us:


Patrick Henry Park 

11am-1pm: We will kick off the day in Patrick Henry Park (E. Broad St. at N. 25th St.), where our Mobile Vaccination Van (Val the Vax Van!) will be offering both the Pfizer and Johnson & Johnson vaccines. (These vaccines will be offered at all Mobile Van stops all day.) 

 

East End Library 

1pm-3pm: Val the Vax Van will be set up outside the library (1200 N. 25th St), with staff on site to answer questions about the vaccine. 

 

OnTrack RVA

3pm-5pm: Stop by 1111 N. 25th Street for COVID-19 vaccination and community resources like face masks, hand sanitizer, personal care items, menstrual products, condoms, naloxone, and fentanyl test strips.

 

HOPE Pharmacy

1pm-5pm: Get vaccinated at HOPE Pharmacy inside the Market at 25th, or learn more from our staff outside, from 1-5pm. No appointments required!

 

Later in the summer, we’ll bring Street to Street to other neighborhoods that are natural homes to gathering places and small businesses. Our Cool Cube Crews will also continue popping up at businesses and events throughout the summer. To request a Cool Cube Crew popup at your event, business, or block party this summer, fill out this interest form.

Questions? 

Call our COVID-19 hotline at (804) 205-3501. 

 

No masks required for fully vaccinated people

No masks required for fully vaccinated people: Here’s what you need to know

On May 13, the Centers for Disease Control updated their COVID-19 prevention guidelines to state that fully vaccinated people no longer need to wear a mask or physically distance in most settings, except where required by federal, state, and local laws and regulations (see below for specific exceptions). Governor Ralph Northam has aligned statewide guidance with the CDC’s announcement, meaning that any fully vaccinated person can choose to do most activities indoors or outdoors without a mask. This is a major change in public health guidance that may raise questions for many people after a long year of being urged and required to wear a mask in most settings, but Richmond and Henrico Health Districts have you covered: read on for a breakdown of why this change happened and what you can expect going forward. 

 

Why did the CDC make this change now? How do they know we are ready? 

More than 120,000,000 Americans have already received the COVID vaccine, and case counts are falling to record lows around the US and here in Central Virginia. All of the currently authorized vaccines are effective at preventing vaccinated people from contracting COVID-19, and are highly effective at protecting against severe infection that results in hospitalization or death. A growing body of evidence also suggests the vaccine reduces your chances of spreading the virus to others. Altogether, these findings indicate that fully vaccinated people are safe without a mask in most outdoor and indoor settings. However, unvaccinated people should continue to wear a mask in most indoor and some outdoor settings as directed by the CDC. 

 

How will I know if the unmasked people around me have been vaccinated? 

The truth is… you can’t know, but that’s the beauty of the COVID vaccine! It offers the same protection regardless of whether the people around you have been vaccinated. Certainly, though, if you are concerned about your risk of exposure in public places, there is absolutely nothing wrong with continuing to wear a mask and maintaining social distancing to protect yourself and others.  Also, regardless of whether you choose to wear a mask or not after vaccination, you should continue those good hygiene practices (hand washing, etc.) that COVID drilled into us.

 

Are there any settings where people are still required to wear a mask after vaccination?

Yes, there are some exceptions: 

  • Healthcare: All staff, patients, and visitors should still plan to wear masks in healthcare settings. This is a CDC guideline and will likely be the same here in Virginia or if you travel to another place in the U.S. 
  • Public Transit: Plan to continue wearing a mask whenever you are not eating or drinking on buses, trains, and commercial flights. (CDC Guideline)
  • Congregate Settings: Plan to continue wearing a mask in facilities where many people live in close quarters such as senior living communities, detention centers, homeless shelters, and group homes. (CDC Guideline)
  • Schools: Since children under 12 are not yet able to be vaccinated, public and private schools in Virginia will still require staff, students, and visitors to wear masks on school property. 
  • Private businesses with continuing mask rules: Private businesses may choose to require all staff or visitors to wear masks even after federal and state guidelines have changed. Just in case, carry a mask with you should you need it. 
  • Travel: Plan to wear a mask while traveling by bus/train/plane, but make sure you also check the local mask guidelines for your destination. Some places are still experiencing higher case counts and community spread and may have stricter mask requirements in place temporarily. 

 

What are some reasons people might decide to keep wearing a mask? 

People with medical conditions that weaken their immune systems may need to continue wearing masks and social distancing even after vaccination.  That’s because we just don’t have enough data yet on how protective vaccination is for people with these conditions.  

Any other person can still opt to wear a mask while we are in a state of emergency —for lots of different reasons! Maybe you want a little bit of extra protection, or maybe you want to show solidarity with children who can’t yet get vaccinated or immunocompromised adults who still need to wear a mask, or maybe you’re just used to wearing a mask and feel more comfortable in a crowded grocery store with it on.  You can also choose to wear a mask in some situations but not in others (for example, when an area is particularly crowded or indoors with poor ventilation).  You are welcome to continue wearing a mask in any indoor or outdoor setting after you have been vaccinated.

 

If I own a business, am I free to continue requiring my customers to wear a mask? 

Any private business can continue requiring masks for all customers. If you are concerned that customers may not want to observe your mask rule in light of the new CDC guidelines, consider offering curbside service for anyone who prefers not to wear a mask. 

How soon after being vaccinated can I stop wearing a mask? 

People who receive the vaccine should continue to wear it until two weeks after receiving their second dose of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine or two weeks after the single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine. 

 

What will happen if unvaccinated people decide to stop wearing masks too now that the mask mandate has been lifted? 

To be honest, we aren’t sure yet what the effect may be if unvaccinated people decide not to wear masks—it’s possible that we may lose the ground we’ve gained and see an increase in case counts and a need to return to mandatory masking and social distancing. Hopefully most people will either choose to be vaccinated or continue to wear a mask whenever necessary. What we do know is that the vaccine offers excellent protection, so if you are vaccinated, you will be well-protected regardless of the choices others may make. 

If you have friends or family who are not yet eligible to be vaccinated, especially children under 12, make sure they continue to wear a mask whenever necessary and that they receive the vaccine as soon as possible once they are eligible. Continue also to reach out to friends, family, and neighbors who are eligible but haven’t yet chosen to be vaccinated to encourage them to get the vaccine. We are making huge progress in our fight against the pandemic, but we need many more people to be vaccinated to ensure we all stay as safe as possible. 

 

How can I get the COVID vaccine? 

Richmond and Henrico Health Districts are continuing to offer vaccination events across our region, including walkup and popup events to make getting vaccinated as easy as possible. If you haven’t gotten the vaccine yet, there are plenty of easy ways to make it happen ASAP.

Questions? 

For more info about COVID-19 prevention and available vaccines, call the Richmond and Henrico COVID-19 Hotline at (804) 205-3501.

¡La vacuna de COVID ahora está disponible para niños de 12 a 15 años en Richmond y Henrico!

 ¡La vacuna de COVID ahora está disponible para niños de 12 a 15 años en Richmond y Henrico!

El 13 de mayo, los distritos de salud de Richmond y Henrico comenzarán a abrir eventos de vacunación para niños de 12 a 15 años para recibir la vacuna Pfizer de COVID-19. Este es un acontecimiento importante en nuestra lucha contra la pandemia y nuestros esfuerzos por mantener a nuestros niños lo más seguros posible. La vacunación de niños de 12 a 15 años limitará aún más la propagación en la comunidad y hará que sea más seguro para los niños  asistir a la escuela en persona y participar en actividades sociales y recreativas. Aquí encontrará todo lo que necesita saber sobre cómo funciona la vacuna y cómo ayudar a su hijo a vacunarse cuando su familia esté lista.

 

¿Cuán efectiva es la vacuna Pfizer para niños de 12 a 15 años?

Durante los ensayos clínicos la vacuna Pfizer de COVID -19 demostró una eficacia del 100% (efectividad durante los ensayos clínicos) y fuertes respuestas de anticuerpos cuando se probó en niños con y sin evidencia previa de infección por COVID 19. Esta es la mejor protección que hemos visto hasta ahora en contra del COVID 19 en los ensayos clínicos de la vacuna, lo que significa que los niños de 12 a 15 años pueden estar incluso mejor protegidos que los adolescentes mayores y los adultos si reciben la vacuna.

 

La vacuna Pfizer es segura para niños de 12 a 15 años?

La vacuna Pfizer de COVID 19 se probó durante extensos ensayos clínicos que incluyeron a 2,260 adolescentes de entre 12 y 15 años. Durante los ensayos clínicos, ninguno de los participante se enfermo gravemente. Pfizer también se ha comprometido a rastrear todos los participantes del ensayo durante dos años completos después de su vacunación, y ningún participante ha experimentado efectos secundarios graves desde que se completaron los ensayos.

Las personas con un historial conocido de reacción alérgica grave (anafilaxia) a cualquier componente de la vacuna Pfizer son una excepción y no deben recibir esta vacuna.

 

¿Cuáles son los efectos secundarios de la vacuna Pfizer para niños de 12 y 15 años?

Los efectos secundarios de la vacuna para niños de 12 a 15 años son generalmente consistentes con los observados en personas de 16 a 25 años que recibieron la vacuna. Los efectos secundarios comunes incluyeron dolor en el lugar de la inyección, fatiga, dolor de cabeza, dolor muscular, escalofríos, dolor en las articulaciones y fiebre. Los efectos secundarios menos comunes, pero aun no graves, son hinchazón en el lugar de la inyección, enrojecimiento en el lugar de la inyección, náuseas, malestar general y linfadenopatía (inflamación de los ganglios linfáticos.

 

La vacuna Pfizer para niños de 12 y 15 años usa la misma tecnología/enfoque que la vacuna Pfizer para adultos?

Si, ambas usan la misma tecnología de mRNA para ayudar al cuerpo a desarrollar una respuesta inmune al COVID 19. El mRNA es una pequeña pieza de material que las célula utilizan para enviar mensajes. En las vacunas de mRNA de Pfizer y Moderna de COVID 19, el mRNA está envuelto en una capa grasa protectora y le dice a sus células que produzcan una proteína de pico a partir del COVID 19. Cuando su cuerpo detecta la proteína, acumula defensas para protegerla en el futuro. NO puede contraer COVID 19 con este método de vacunación.

 

 ¿Cuál es la diferencia de la dosis de la vacuna para niños de  12 y 15 años y las personas de 16 años o más? ¿Es la dosis adecuada para mi hijo si es particularmente grande o pequeño para su edad?

La dosis para niños de 12 y 15 años es la misma para los que tienen 16 años o más. Los niños de 12 y 15 años  son elegibles para recibir la vacuna independientemente de su  altura/peso.

 

La duración recomendada entre la primera y la segunda dosis es la misma para los niños de 12 y 15 años que para los adultos ?

Si, el intervalo recomendado entre la primera y la segunda dosis para niños de 12 y 15 años  es de 21 dias, igual que la vacuna para personas mayores de 16 años.

 

¿Estará disponible la vacuna de pfizer para niños de 12 y 15 años en todos los lugares donde hayan vacunas para adultos? ¿Podremos recibir la vacuna en el consultorio de nuestro pediatra?

Cualquiera de los eventos de vacunación de los distritos de salud de Richmond y Henrico que ofrezcan la vacuna Pfizer también ofrecen la vacuna a los niños de 12 y 15 años. Todas las farmacias que figuran en vaccines.gov que ofrecen la vacuna Pfizer también ofrecerán la vacuna a los niños de este grupo de edad.

Los distritos de salud de Richmond y Henrico se están acercando a los pediatras de nuestra región para tenerlos como proveedores de vacunas, por lo que la vacuna puede estar disponible en el consultorio de su pediatra en las próximas semanas; consulte con ellos directamente para obtener más información. También podemos asociarnos con los sistemas escolares locales para realizar eventos de vacunación en las escuelas durante verano y compartiremos información en nuestro sitio web y a través de nuestros colaboradores escolares tan pronto como tengamos más detalles.

 

¿Qué tipo de permiso o consentimiento se necesita de un padre o tutor para que los niños de 12 y 15 años reciban la vacuna Pfizer?

Un padre, tutor u otro adulto legal que haya recibido permiso de un padre o tutor debe firmar un formulario de consentimiento para que un niño de 12 a 15 años reciba la vacuna. El formulario es electrónico y se puede firmar en el lugar de la vacunación o clínica. Un adulto también debe acompañar al niño a la cita de vacunación, aunque no se  requiere que el adulto sea el tutor legal del niño, por ejemplo, un joven de 15 años que esté acompañado por un hermano mayor que sea adulto legal y tenga permiso (verbal o escrito )de sus padres o tutores podrá recibir la vacuna.

 

Mi hijo tiene que recibir algunas otras vacunas antes regresar a la escuela; este otoño. Necesito separar la vacuna de COVID de las otras vacunas requeridas?

El CDC recomienda no recibir ninguna otra vacuna durante dos semanas antes o después de una dosis de la vacuna de COVID, porque aún no estamos seguros del efecto que podría tener otras vacunas si se reciben justo antes o después de la vacuna de COVID. Es posible que desee comunicarse con el proveedor de de atención médica de su hijo para elaborar un plan para recibir la vacuna de covid  y las vacunas necesarias antes de que comience el año escolar.

 

Lista de verificación para niños de 12 y 15 años que reciben la vacuna de Pfizer contra el  COVID 19

Programe su cita o busque una clínica sin cita previa.

  •  Use vaccines.gov para encontrar farmacias u otros proveedores en su área que tengan dosis de vacunas disponibles. Vaccine.gov le mostrará un mapa de todas las ubicaciones en su área que tienen a la mano dosis de la vacuna de Pfizer. Luego, puede visitar el sitio web de los proveedores individuales o llamarlos para conocer los horarios disponibles para las citas o los horarios sin cita previa.
  • Comuníquese con su pediatra para verificar si ofrecerá la vacuna Pfizer en su consultorio para niños de 12 y 15 años.
  • Visite vax.rchd.com para conocer los eventos sin cita previa que ofrecen la vacuna Pfizer de COVID-19,  o complete un formulario en línea simple y programe una cita en uno de nuestros eventos de vacunación.
  • Llame al (804) 205-3501, de lunes a viernes de 8 a.m. a 5 p.m. para programar una cita en uno de nuestros eventos de vacunación.

 

Obtenga permiso y traiga un adulto.

  • Un padre, tutor u otro adulto mayor de 18 años debe acompañar al niño que se va a vacunar. Si es posible el adulto debe traer algún tipo de identificación con o sin foto, pero esto no es obligatorio.
  • Si el adulto que acompaña al niño es un padre o tutor, se le pedirá que firme un formulario de consentimiento en línea antes de vacunar al niño.
  • Si el adulto no es un padre o tutor, se le pedirá que verifique que el padre sabe que el niño está siendo vacunado y ha dado su consentimiento antes de firmar el formulario de consentimiento. Los proveedores de vacunas no pueden vacunar a ningún niño cuyo padre o tutor no haya dado su consentimiento.

 

Traiga una identificación para el niño si la tiene ( pero está bien si no la tiene)

  • Si el niño de 12 a 15 años que se va a vacunar tiene una identificación, una identificación escolar, un formulario de salud escolar u otro registro escolar, traigalo al evento de vacunación. Sin embargo, no se requiere identificación para vacunarse. La  única información que una persona debe compartir en la clinica de vacunacion es su nombre y fecha de nacimiento.

 

Informe a sus padres y tutores sobre su decisión de vacunarse

Nuestros niños están más seguros cuando regresan a la escuela si la mayor cantidad posible de estudiantes han recibido la vacuna, y su amable aliento puede ayudar a otras personas a decidir que la vacuna de Pfizer es adecuada para su familia. Hable con amigos, familiares y otros padres o tutores en su comunidad sobre la vacuna Pfizer de COVID 19 y comparta la experiencia de su hijo despues de recibir la vacuna.

Si tiene preguntas sobre la vacuna Pfizer de COVID 19 o necesita ayuda para programar su cita para la vacuna, llame a la línea directa de Richmond y Henrico de COVID 19 al (804) 205-3501.

The COVID Vaccine is now available to kids ages 12-15 in Richmond and Henrico!

The COVID Vaccine is now available to kids ages 12-15 in Richmond and Henrico!

On May 13th, Richmond and Henrico Health Districts will begin opening up our vaccination events to children ages 12-15 to receive the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine. This is a major milestone in our fight against the pandemic and our efforts to keep our children as safe as possible. Vaccinating kids ages 12-15 will further limit community spread and make it safer for kids to attend school in person and engage in social and recreational activities. Here is everything you need to know about how the vaccine works and how to help your child get vaccinated when your family is ready.

 

How effective is the Pfizer vaccine for kids 12-15?

During clinical trials, the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine demonstrated 100% efficacy (effectiveness during clinical trials) and strong antibody responses when tested on kids both with and without prior evidence of COVID-19 infection. This is the best protection we have yet seen against the COVID-19 vaccine in clinical trials—meaning kids ages 12-15 may be even better protected than older teens and adults if they receive the vaccine.

 

Is the Pfizer vaccine safe for kids ages 12-15?

The Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine was tested during extensive clinical trials which included 2,260 adolescents ages 12-15. During clinical trials, none of the participants became severely ill. Pfizer has also committed to tracking all trial participants for two full years following their vaccination, and no participant has experienced serious side effects since the trials completed.

Individuals with a known history of severe allergic reaction (anaphylaxis) to any component of the Pfizer vaccine are a noted exception and should not receive this vaccine.

 

What are the side effects of the Pfizer vaccine for kids ages 12-15?

Side effects for the vaccine for kids ages 12-15 are generally consistent with those observed in people ages 16-25 who received the vaccine. Common side effects included pain at the injection site, fatigue, headache, muscle pain, chills, joint pain, and fever. Less common but still not serious side effects are injection site swelling, injection site redness, nausea, malaise, and lymphadenopathy (swollen lymph nodes).

 

Does the Pfizer vaccine for kids 12-15 use the same technology/approach as the Pfizer vaccine for adults?

Yes, both vaccines use the same mRNA technology to help your body develop an immune response to COVID-19. mRNA is a small piece of material that cells use to send messages. In Pfizer and Moderna COVID-19 mRNA vaccines, mRNA is wrapped in a protective fat layer and tells your cells to make a spike protein from COVID-19. When your body senses the protein, it builds up defenses to protect you in the future. You cannot get COVID-19 from this method of vaccination.

 

What is the difference in dosage between the vaccine for kids 12-15 and people 16 and older? Is the dose right for my child if they are particularly large or small for their age?

The dose for kids ages 12-15 is the same for those who are 16 and older. Kids ages 12-15 are eligible to receive the vaccine regardless of their height/weight.

 

Is the recommended duration between the first and second dose the same for kids 12-15 as it is for adults?

Yes, the recommended interval between first and second doses for kids ages 12-15 is 21 days—same as the vaccine for people 16 and older.

 

Will the Pfizer vaccine for kids 12-15 be available everywhere vaccines for adults are available? Will we be able to get the vaccine in our pediatrician’s office?

Any of Richmond and Henrico Health District’s vaccination events that offer the Pfizer vaccine will also offer the vaccine to 12-15-year-olds. All pharmacies listed on vaccines.gov that offer the Pfizer vaccine will also offer the vaccine to kids in this age group.

Richmond and Henrico Health Districts are reaching out to pediatricians across our region to engage them as vaccine providers, so the vaccine may be available at your pediatrician’s office in the coming weeks—check with them directly to learn more. We may also partner with local school systems to hold vaccination events on-site at schools over the summer and will share information on our website and through our school partners as soon as we have more details.

 

What sort of permission or consent is needed from a parent or guardian for kids ages 12-15 to get the Pfizer vaccine?

A legal parent, guardian, or other adult who has been given permission by a parent or guardian must sign a consent form for a child ages 12-15 to receive the vaccine, The form is electronic and can be signed on-site at the vaccination clinic. An adult must also accompany the child to the vaccination appointment, though it is not required that the adult be the child’s legal guardian—for example, a 15-year-old who is accompanied by an older sibling who is a legal adult and has permission (verbal or written) from their parent or guardian would be allowed to receive the vaccine.

 

 

Checklist for 12-15-year-olds receiving the Pfizer COVID Vaccine 

  • Schedule an appointment or find a walkup clinic. 
  • Use vaccines.gov to find pharmacies or other providers in your area that have available vaccine doses. Vaccines.gov will show you a map of all the locations in your area that have Pfizer vaccine doses in stock. You can then visit the website of individual providers or call them to find available appointment times or walk-up hours.
  • Contact your pediatrician to find out if they will be offering the Pfizer vaccine in their office for kids ages 12-15.
  • Visit rchd.com to learn about walkup events that offer the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine, or fill out a simple online form and schedule an appointment at one of our vaccination events.
  • Call (804) 205-3501, Monday through Friday from 8 am – 5 pm, to schedule an appointment at one of our vaccination events.
  • Get permission and bring an adult.
    • A parent, guardian, or other adult who is 18 and older must accompany the child being vaccinated. If possible, the adult should bring some form of identification with or without a photo, but this is not required.
    • If the adult accompanying the child is a parent or guardian, they will be asked to sign an online consent form before the child is vaccinated.
    • If the adult is not a parent or guardian, they will be asked to verify that the parent is aware that the child is being vaccinated and has given their consent before signing the consent form. Vaccine providers are unable to vaccinate any child whose parent or guardian has not given consent.
  • Bring ID for the child if you have it (but it’s fine if you don’t!). 
    • If the 12-15-year-old being vaccinated has identification such as a school ID, school health form, or other school record, please bring it to the vaccination event. However, ID is not required in order to be vaccinated. The only information a person must share at the vaccination clinic is their name and date of birth.
  • Tell other parents and guardians about your decision to get the vaccine. 
    • Our children are safest as they head back to school if as many students as possible have received the vaccine, and your gentle encouragement may help someone else decide the Pfizer COVID vaccine is right for their family. Talk with friends, family, and other parents or guardians in your community about the Pfizer COVID vaccine and share your child’s experience with getting vaccinated.

If you have questions about the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine or need assistance with scheduling your vaccine appointment, call the Richmond and Henrico COVID-19 Hotline at (804) 205-3501.