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ATLANTA: 1800 Howell Mill Rd • Suite 800 • Atlanta, GA 30318 • 404-350-9853
FAYETTEVILLE: 1267 Highway 54 West • Suite 4200 • Fayetteville, GA 30214 • 678-829-1060
NEWNAN: 775 Poplar Rd. • Suite 310 • Newnan, GA 30265 • 770-251-2590
HENRY: 1240 Eagles Landing Parkway • Suite 260 • Stockbridge, GA 30281 • 678-854-9500
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COVID-19 Update

COVID-19 Update (last updated 1.6.2021)

Your safety and health are Piedmont Cancer Institute’s priority. With COVID-19 in our community, we are taking steps to limit the spread of this and other serious respiratory viruses.

All patients with fever (temperature greater than 100°), body aches, and/or respiratory symptoms such as cough and/or shortness of breath are asked to call and report their symptoms to their physician’s nurse prior to their appointment. Because of the large volume of immunocompromised patients treated in our offices, patients with fever plus other symptoms may be referred elsewhere for evaluation and treatment. Caregivers and visitors with fever and/or respiratory symptoms are asked to avoid coming to our offices and encouraged to seek medical evaluation.

Patients and caregivers who have been diagnosed with COVID-19 may return to a Piedmont Cancer Institute location only after the criteria for discontinuing home isolation have been met.  The criteria can be found here https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/hcp/disposition-in-home-patients.html.

Patients and caregivers who have had direct exposure (within 6 feet for a total of 15 minutes or more) to someone with laboratory confirmed COVID-19 or direct exposure to someone with symptoms consistent with COVID-19 and/or pending test results should follow the guidance found here https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/php/public-health-recommendations.html.  If you have an appointment scheduled during the required 14-day quarantine, please call your local Piedmont Cancer Institute location and reschedule for a later date or change your appointment to a telehealth visit.

For routine appointments not associated with a treatment administered in our office, we offer the use of telehealth visits.  If desired, please call your local Piedmont Cancer Institute location to either schedule a telehealth appointment or change your in-office visit to a telehealth visit.

If you are coming to a PCI office, we ask that you come by yourself if feasible.  If you require assistance, please bring only one direct caregiver. A maximum of one person may accompany you to the exam room and NO visitors are allowed in the Infusion Suite. Visitors of patients being treated in the Infusion Suite will be required to wait somewhere besides PCI reception areas. Unfortunately, waiting areas are limited and you may need to wait in your car.  All patients and visitors will be required to go through a wellness screening including temperature check before entering the assessment and treatment areas of the office.

To protect yourself from COVID-19 and other serious respiratory viruses:

  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick. Stay home as much as possible and put distance (a minimum of 6 feet) between yourself and other people.
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a cloth face cover when around others.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
  • Avoid shaking hands and hugging.
  • Stay home when you are sick.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing. If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol. Always wash hands with soap and water if hands are visibly dirty.

 

Our goal is to provide excellent care and treat patients with compassion and concern. We realize that you may have additional questions and we are here for you.

 

COVID-19 Vaccine Frequently Asked Questions (last updated 1.6.2021)

  • Who should get vaccinated against COVID-19 infection?

The goal is for everyone to be able to easily get vaccinated against COVID-19 as soon as possible.  Supply is the current limiting factor in large scale vaccination. 

Your Piedmont Cancer Institute physician, in agreement with CDC guidelines, recommends COVID-19 vaccination for everyone unless you:

  • Have a moderate or severe acute illness on the day of vaccination
  • Have a history of a severe allergic reaction (e.g. anaphylaxis-a reaction for which you were treated with epinephrine or EpiPen or for which you had to go to the hospital) to another vaccination or other injectable medicine
  • Have received passive antibody therapy as treatment for COVID-19 in the last 90 days
  • Have received another vaccine in the last 14 days
  • Are pregnant or breastfeeding

If any of the above situations apply to you, you MAY still be able to receive a COVID-19 vaccine.  Discuss your specific situation with your healthcare provider.

  • Who will get vaccinated first?

The Georgia Department of Public Health is using a phased approach to distribution of COVID-19 vaccines.  This phased approach is based on the guidelines from the CDC coupled with vaccine availability and the needs of the state.   The details of the phased approach can be found here https://dph.georgia.gov .

  • How do I know if I qualify as having a significant comorbidity?

Any PCI patient currently receiving a treatment that affects the immune system (i.e. chemotherapy or immunotherapy) will qualify as having a significant comorbidity.  Other PCI patients who will qualify as having a significant comorbidity are those patients that have a chronically low white blood cell count, an immunodeficiency, or a diagnosis of chronic leukemia or lymphoma. Patients being treated for a blood clot or blood clotting disorder will also qualify as having a significant comorbidity.

Patients receiving only hormonal therapy (tamoxifen-Nolvadex, anastrazole-Arimidex, exemestane-Aromasin, letrozole-Femara, leuprolide-Lupron, triptorelin-Trelstar) for stage 1,2, or 3 breast or prostate cancer do not qualify as having a significant comorbidity.  Patients that have a history of cancer that has been cured through surgery, radiation, and/or chemotherapy, immunotherapy, or hormone therapy do not qualify as having a significant comorbidity.

You may qualify as having a significant comorbidity based on a condition that is treated by another physician or specialty.  Examples of these conditions include but are not limited to diabetes, hypertension and/or heart disease, kidney disease, lung disease, or rheumatology diseases.  In these cases, please contact the physician or healthcare provider that helps you manage that condition.

  • Can I get the COVID-19 Vaccine at Piedmont Cancer Institute?

The answer is more complicated than you think.  PCI has been approved to administer the COVID-19 vaccine, but the details of supply and logistics have not yet been shared by the Georgia Department of Public Health.  As soon as we know more, we will update our website and send a message through our patient portal.  We understand the anxiety associated with the COVID-19 pandemic, but please refrain from calling and messaging about our supply, scheduling, or logisticsWe do not currently have a registration or reservation process.  There is no wait list.  We simply do not have enough information to plan these details. 
If you have the opportunity to receive a COVID-19 vaccine somewhere else in the community, we recommend that you do so.  
You can assume that your PCI physician recommends COVID-19 vaccination unless you:

  • Have a moderate or severe acute illness on the day of vaccination
  • Have a history of a severe allergic reaction (e.g. anaphylaxis-a reaction for which you were treated with epinephrine or EpiPen or for which you had to go to the hospital) to another vaccination or other injectable medicine
  • Have received passive antibody therapy as treatment for COVID-19 in the last 90 days
  • Have received another vaccine in the last 14 days
  • Are pregnant or breastfeeding

If any of the above situations apply to you, you MAY still be able to receive a COVID-19 vaccine.  Discuss your specific situation with your healthcare provider. 

Receiving chemotherapy or immunotherapy and/or having a suppressed immune system is NOT a reason to avoid being vaccinated.  Your PCI physician believes that the benefits of COVID-19 vaccination outweighs the risks of the COVID-19 virus.

  • Am I required to get a COVID-19 vaccine?

No.  While we recommend COVID-19 vaccination, we support an individual’s right to make the best decision for him or herself.

  • Is the vaccine safe?

Safety is a key concern among health officials and experts. Before the FDA approves a vaccine, the manufacturer must do rigorous research and testing to ensure the vaccine’s safety and effectiveness. The FDA independently reviews and verifies the information from these tests. It then decides whether the vaccine can be licensed and given to the public.  For each vaccine authorized by the FDA, the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) carefully reviews all available data about the vaccine from clinical trials and other studies and makes recommendations for vaccine use in the general public. Recommendations include groups that should and should not receive the vaccine, as well as the timing, volume, number, and spacing of doses in a vaccine series. The FDA and CDC continue to closely monitor vaccine safety after the public begins using the vaccine. Both agencies have longstanding and new safety systems in place for heightened monitoring of all COVID-19 vaccines.

  • What are the side effects of the COVID-19 vaccine?

The most common known side-effects of the COVID-19 vaccine are short-term injection site pain, fever, chills, headaches, muscle aches and joint pain. These symptoms are temporary and are in line with side effects some people experience from some other vaccines, including the flu shot and the vaccine to prevent shingles.

Vaccines work to fight disease by producing an immune response within the body, and sometimes that means flu-like symptoms occur as your body responds to the vaccine. It is normal and expected.

  • Can I get COVID-19 from the vaccine?

No. The COVID-19 vaccine does not contain the live virus that causes COVID-19 and cannot cause COVID-19.

  • Can people with an egg allergy receive the COVID-19 vaccine?

Neither the Pfizer nor the Moderna vaccines contain egg. 

  • How many doses of vaccine will I need?

Both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines require two doses.  The Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine is administered intramuscularly (into the muscle, just like a flu shot) as a series of two doses, three weeks apart. The Moderna vaccine is also given intramuscularly as a series of two doses, 28 days apart.  Both doses are needed to get the most protection the vaccine has to offer against COVID-19.

  • What if I only get one dose of the vaccine?

It is recommended that individuals receive both doses of the vaccine to ensure full protection.

  •  How effective is the COVID-19 vaccine?

The Pfizer vaccine showed a 95% efficacy rate 7 days after the second dose. The vaccine was 94% effective in adults >65 years old. The Moderna vaccine showed a 94% efficacy rate 14 days after the second dose. These results were consistent across gender, age and ethnicity.

  •  If I had COVID-19 and recovered, do I still need to be vaccinated?

It is recommended individuals who have had and recovered from COVID-19 also should be vaccinated.

  • Do I still need to wear a mask and avoid close contact with others once I receive 2 doses of vaccine?

It’s important for everyone to continue using all the tools available to help stop this pandemic as we learn more about how COVID-19 vaccines work in real-world conditions.  It will take time after the vaccination for your body to respond and make enough antibodies to protect you. This could take up to one to two weeks after your last dose. Current information suggests that it is possible that someone who has been vaccinated against COVID-19 may still have a mild or asymptomatic infection or spread the virus to others. So it is important to continue taking precautions. Cover your mouth and nose with a mask when around others, stay at least 6 feet away from others, avoid crowds and wash your hands often.

  • Will the COVID-19 vaccine be free?

Yes, the COVID-19 vaccine will be free. Vaccine providers may be able to charge administration fees for giving the shot but they will be billed to insurance with no out-of-pocket cost to the patient.


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