August 29, 2022
Hello NAP Families,
With the return to school comes much excitement, but also many questions about what this year will bring in terms of infectious diseases. We have all seen the return of “typical” viruses over the past year and expect these to continue being a part of our lives for the coming season. NAP remains committed to offering same day appointments and COVID testing for our patients and we continue to work on increasing our capacity for the VIP area.
Several families have contacted us to ask about the mask-optional policies our local schools are adopting. We know it is very difficult to weigh the balance between the added layer of safety masking provides and the desire to allow our kids to return to some semblance of normalcy after two very challenging years. We support each family’s right to choose what is best for their child and encourage our local schools to ensure children are made to feel comfortable at school regardless of their masking decision. If you do choose to have your child continue to mask at school, remember that well-fitting, non-cloth masks (such as a surgical mask, KN-95, or N-95) are most protective.
NAP continues to have limited availability in our COVID vaccine clinics held on Fridays in our Amherst office. These appointments are for primary series vaccines only as we are prioritizing getting our 6 month – 4 year patients vaccinated and to allow older children the opportunity to get their initial protection if not yet done. We hope to have more availability for booster vaccines in November, including the newer bivalent COVID booster which has expanded coverage of the latest Omicron variant. We are monitoring the progress of this vaccine approval closely and will keep you updated as more information becomes available.
We are also working on our flu vaccine clinic schedule and hope to have these available starting in October. We will send a message through the MyChart portal when these are open for booking. We will offer again this year a limited supply of the nasal (live) flu vaccine for patients who are unable to receive the injected flu vaccine. The nasal flu vaccine is only approved for ages 2+ without certain medical conditions. There is insufficient data to fully understand how effective the intranasal flu vaccine is compared to the injected vaccine so we continue to encourage the injected form for any patient able to receive it. We will be sending a survey to ask about your interest in the nasal flu vaccine for your child.
And if worrying about flu and Covid this year wasn’t enough, we now are hearing reports around the country of Monkeypox, a virus that causes a rash (typically blisters, firm nodules, or pus filled bumps), swollen glands, fever, headache, and muscle aches. We are fortunate not to have seen any cases in our patients so far and are not aware of any cases in our community. Monkeypox is much less contagious than Covid and typically requires direct exposure to the rash or close contact with an infected person – i.e. you will not catch it by walking by someone in the grocery store – and for the moment it is mostly clustering in certain adult populations. If your child has a new rash and other illness symptoms, we would be happy to see them in the office to determine the cause and whether testing for Monkeypox is needed.
A few reminders:
Guidelines for COVID exposure and infection can be found on these websites:
School Health Forms (also used for sports and camp clearance) are created during each Well Visit/physical and can be found on the MyChart portal. These are valid for up to one year after the physical appointment. If you need to print or save the form, you must be logged into the full website version of MyChart and not the App.
Finally, many of you received the email from Dr. Barnhart announcing her retirement from working as a primary care provider. We are happy that Dr. Barnhart will continue to work at NAP in other capacities and are so thankful to her for the many years of excellent care she has given to all her patients.
Have a fun, safe, and healthy start to the school year!
Northampton Area Pediatrics