As we approach the official end of the Public Health Emergency for the COVID-19 Pandemic, we wanted to once again update our policies for keeping you safe.
Starting May 1, masking will no longer be mandatory in our office. For those individuals with a cough or other cold symptoms, we will still require masks that cover the mouth and nose. This is important for the health and safety of other patients and team members.
We decided to make this change in our masking policy after a careful analysis of COVID rates in Southern Maine. Prevalence of the disease has been low, vaccination rates are high, and COVID-related hospitalizations continue to decline. Other large healthcare networks including Maine Medical Center and Northern Lights Health have taken the lead with similar policy changes. Everyone is welcome to mask if they wish. If you choose to mask and would be more comfortable if your care team does as well, please let us know and we will wear one.
Precautions that remain unchanged include:
- If you have symptoms, you may need to take an at-home COVID test before an in-person visit. Please call us with your situation and your test results and to discuss options, including whether or not you should come in for your visit.
- We will continue to make masks available at all entrances to our office.
- Our staff will mask when caring for patients with symptoms or who request that we do so.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention this month updated its COVID vaccine recommendations. The changes include:
- An additional updated (bivalent) vaccine dose for adults ages 65 years and older and for people who are immuno-compromised.
- Monovalent (original) mRNA COVID vaccines are no longer authorized for use in the United States.
- Recommendation that everyone 6 years and older receive an updated (bivalent) mRNA COVID vaccine, regardless of whether they previously completed their (monovalent) primary series. Individuals 6 years and older who have already received an updated mRNA vaccine do not need to take any action unless they are 65 years or older or immuno-compromised.
- For young children, multiple doses continue to be recommended and will vary by age, vaccine, and which vaccine(s) they previously received.
For additional details, visit the CDC’s Stay Up to Date with Vaccines webpage.
On May 11, the federal government’s Public Health Emergency will expire, as will a number of measures designed to provide flexibility earlier in the pandemic response:
- Prescriptions: Patients may need to see us in person, rather than in a telehealth visit, for medication management and other simple or primarily-discussion medical visits. Please check with your insurance company to see if telehealth visits will still be covered by your plan.
- Vaccinations: Commercial insurance may have a co-pay for COVID-19 vaccines.
- COVID-19 testing: Your health plan will cover the cost of a laboratory test if it is ordered by your doctor and you are symptomatic or have been exposed, but not necessarily in other cases. Due to our limited resources including lack of adequate PPE (Personal Protective Equipment), we do not perform testing at our office; we preferentially refer you to one of the state designated Test-to-Treat sites. At-home tests may no longer be reimbursed by your health plan. Free at-home tests are currently available through these programs:
- Four free tests through the federal government: www.covid.gov/tests
- Maine residents may order kits monthly: www.accesscovidtests.org