What You Need to Know

The most important weekly updates for you to keep your community healthy




In this Update:

1. Information You Need: Vaccine Update

2. Student Safety: Going home for the holidays

3.  Information You Need: CDC Updated Close Contact Definition




1. Information You Need: Vaccine Update


Two vaccine candidates created by Pfizer and Moderna have completed their phase three trials during November. Although results from these trials are preliminary and do not contain exact information regarding how long immunity would last, they are very promising. Plans for distributing the vaccine are still in progress, but frontline healthcare workers are likely to receive the first doses. Vaccine production will need to keep up with high demand, so stay up to date with AZCOVIDTXT  for any new information regarding the vaccine. Use the table below for more information regarding the Pfizer and Moderna vaccine candidates:

PfizerModernaWhat you need to know
Phase three trial efficacy:95% efficacy94.5% efficacyEfficacy refers to the percentage of disease reduced in  the vaccinated group compared to the placebo group. 
 
For comparison, 95% efficacy is almost equally as effective as the MMR vaccine (e.g., 97% effective after 2 doses), and much more effective than the seasonal flu vaccine, which ranges from 40-60% effectiveness each year.
Phase three results:Over 44,000 total volunteers


Half received two doses of the vaccine, the other half received a placebo


170 volunteers tested positive for COVID-19, only 8 of which were in the vaccinated group
30,000 total volunteers

Half received two doses of the vaccine, the other half received a placebo

95 total volunteers tested positive for COVID-19, only 5 of which received the vaccine

11 cases of severe COVID-19 in the placebo group
Few positive COVID-19 cases in the vaccination group speaks to the effectiveness of both vaccine candidates
Number of doses needed and timing:Two doses, 21 days apartTwo doses, 28 days apartIt is essential to take the same vaccine for both doses. So be sure to ask and remember which vaccine you received first or work with the same healthcare provider to receive both doses.


It is also important to take both doses. The second dose will “boost” the immune system and make it respond stronger if it encounters the actual virus.
Known side effects:Pain at injection site


Fatigue


Body aches (1-2 days)
Pain at injection site


Fatigue


Body aches (1-2 days)
The reported side effects are mild to moderate and appear to be similar to side effects experienced from a flu shot.
Must be stored at:Minus 75 degrees celsiusMinus 20 degrees celsiusHow the vaccine is stored impacts how the vaccine is distributed. If it can be stored at minus 20 that means it is easier to get to remote areas for distribution and won’t require expensive equipment.


2. Information You Need: Travelling for the Holidays


As the holiday season approaches, many people may choose to travel, including students returning home for winter break. Below we have highlighted some tips to be aware of this year if you do decide to travel for the holiday season:

Know the risksThe severity of a COVID-19 case varies from person to person, but can be especially severe for individuals within a high risk group. Some will get sick, while others will experience mild to no symptoms.


Everyone who is infected can spread COVID-19. Therefore, you may not know that you are sick, but you could pass the virus to your mother, grandfather, or other people who may suffer severe illness or even death.
Avoid back-and-forth travelIt is best to only travel to your home or destination once! Traveling to and from your destination increases the risk of transmission between your communities.
Consider your COVID-19 statusIf you have never had the virus, you are not immune.

If you tested positive in the past 90 days and recovered, you are likely immune and non-infectious and pose little risk to your family or friends.

If you tested positive more than 90 days ago, your immunity may have waned and you might be at risk of reinfection. 

To find if you have had the virus recently, get an antibody test. Testing is available statewide, but registration is required. Visit this link for more information.
Self-quarantine before heading homeAnyone who has not tested positive in the past 90 days should aim to receive two negative PCR diagnostic tests 24 hours apart and consider a self-quarantine period before travelling.
Plan for safe travelOpt for driving over flying or other public transportation! In your own car you can have more control over who you are exposed to compared to an airport or airplane. For more information, visit our previous update.


If you do choose to fly, book your flight with an airline that is taking safety precautions (e.g., avoiding booking middle seats).


Always wear a mask, follow physical distancing guidelines, and practice proper hand hygiene while travelling!
Self-quarantine after arriving homeThere is no risk-free way to travel. It is a good idea to make a plan for self-quarantine after returning home. In preparation, students should discuss a plan with their family to prepare for isolation should someone at home get sick. Use this checklist to find out how your household can reduce COVID-19 risk ahead of time.
Additional guidance for students returning homeBelow are outlined “safest,” “safer,” and “unsafe” scenarios for students returning home:

Safest: Students should obtain a PCR diagnostic test. If the test is negative, it is still important to reduce all contacts for at least 7 days. Visit this link for information about quarantine guidelines

Safer: Students living in dorms or apartment buildings with few to no cases can leave for home without a pre-departure quarantine if they obtain a negative rapid antigen test and have a written plan for self-quarantine for at least 7 days upon returning home. This option is most appropriate for students who: Currently live in dorms or apartments with a low prevalence of COVID-19 (e.g., <5%),  Do NOT have family members >65 years or others with medical vulnerabilities at home, Have space to safely and effectively quarantine at home.

 Unsafe: It is unsafe for students to move home if they have tested positive in the past 10 days.
It is unsafe for students to move home from buildings with high COVID-19 case numbers without both a negative antigen test and pre-departure self-quarantine. 
For students living in lower-prevalence settings, it is unsafe to move home without pre-departure self-quarantine if there are medically vulnerable individuals at home.




3. Information You Need: CDC Updated Close Contact Definition


The CDC recently updated their definition for a “close contact”. Current guidance is as follows: “someone who spent 15 minutes or more within 6 feet of a confirmed COVID-19 case over a 24-hour period of time

This is important because this is the guidance that is used to determine whether or not someone needs to quarantine after an exposure. Following the updated definition closely will help reduce the spread of the virus. 

The updated definition now reflects that the close contact does not have to be with the confirmed COVID-19 case for 15 consecutive minutes or more, but those 15 minutes or more could be spread out over a 24 hour period. 

  • For example, if you were within 6 feet of a confirmed COVID-19 case for 5 minutes in the morning and 10 minutes in the afternoon, you would be considered a close contact of that person and should quarantine yourself for two weeks. 

For more information about the CDC’s close contact definition, visit this link.

We know it can be difficult to follow evolving guidance. For more information about why guidelines tend to change regarding COVID-19, visit our previous update. 





The next update will cover information about reimagining the holidays. If you would like to learn more about this and other topics related to COVID-19 in Arizona, please complete next week’s AZCOVIDTXT survey that you will receive via text in about a week.

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