The CDC’s New Mask Guidance

Image Source: Canva

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has released a new mask guidance for those who have been fully vaccinated from COVID-19.  

How to know if you are fully vaccinated?

People are considered fully vaccinated if:

  • It has been two weeks after their second dose in a two-dose series, such as in the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines.1
  • It has been two weeks after a single-dose vaccine, such as the Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen vaccine.1

It is important to note that if you have a condition or are taking medications that weaken your immune system, you may not be fully protected even if you are fully vaccinated.1

What you can begin to do after being fully vaccinated

  • Go outside without a mask on except in certain crowded settings and venues.1
  • Have a small outdoor gathering with fully vaccinated friends or family.2
  • Going outside for some exercise with members of your own household while social distancing with others.2
  • You can gather indoors with fully vaccinated people without wearing a mask or staying 6 feet apart.1
  • If you travel in the United States, you do not have to get tested before or after travel or self-quarantine after travel.1
  • Refrain from quarantine following a known exposure if asymptomatic.3

What you should keep doing

  • Wear a well-fitted mask in indoor public settings.1
  • Follow guidance issued by individual employers.1
  • Avoid large indoor gatherings.1

The infographic below, from the CDC, shows which activities the organization considers safe to do unmasked outside:2

Image Source: © Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

The infographic below demonstrates the relative risks of doing activities indoors during the pandemic.2

Image Source: © Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

For more information on choosing safer activities, visit: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/daily-life-coping/participate-in-activities.html

How can Tria Health Help?

Tria Health was founded on the belief that pharmacists play a vital role in the management of high-risk patients. With Tria, you have the option of receiving a one-on-one private consultation with one of Tria Health’s pharmacists over the phone. During your consultation, your pharmacist will review all your current medications, including vitamins, supplements and lifestyle habits. Your pharmacist will be able to answer any questions you may have regarding the COVID-19 vaccination. For more information of how the COVID-19 vaccine works, check out our blog post on the safety of vaccinations: https://triahealthblog.com/2021/01/04/safety-of-vaccinations/.

Questions?

Contact the Tria Health Help Desk at 1.888.799.8742

Sources:

  1. https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/vaccines/fully-vaccinated.html
  2. The CDC’s new mask guidance explained in 2 handy charts – one for outdoors, one for indoors (msn.com)
  3. Interim Public Health Recommendations for Fully Vaccinated People | CDC

World Asthma Day

Image Source: Canva

According to the World Health Organization (WHO) Asthma Report, more than 339 million people suffer from asthma.1 World Asthma Day is an annual event organized by the Global Initiative for Asthma to improve asthma awareness and care around the world.

What is Asthma?

The World Health Organization defines asthma as a disease characterized by recurrent attacks of breathlessness and wheezing. The severity and frequency of these attacks vary from person to person. This chronic respiratory disease inflames and narrows the airways so they become easily irritated.3 The most common symptoms of asthma are breathlessness, coughing, chest pains and wheezing.

“Uncovering Asthma Misconceptions”

The theme of this year’s World Asthma Day is “Uncovering Asthma Misconceptions.” The purpose is to address common myths and misconceptions concerning asthma.2 Common misconceptions surrounding asthma include:1

  1. Asthma is a childhood disease; individuals will grow out of it as they age.
  2. Asthma is infectious.
  3. Asthma sufferers should not exercise.
  4. Asthma is only controllable with high dose steroids.

The Truth:1

  1. Asthma can occur at any age (in children, adolescents, adults and the elderly).
  2. Asthma is not infectious. However, viral respiratory infections (such as the common cold and the flu) can cause asthma attacks. In children, asthma is frequently associated with allergy, but asthma which starts in adulthood is less often allergy-related.
  3. When asthma is well-controlled, asthma subjects can exercise and even perform in top sports.
  4. Asthma is most often controllable with low-dose inhaled steroids.

How can you get involved in World Asthma Day?

  • Organize a sponsored walk, run, or other activity to raise awareness for World Asthma Day.4
  • Organize debates about local issues affecting asthma control—e.g., pollution, smoking, access to asthma care & medication.5
  • Carry out a survey in your area to see how many people are affected by asthma.4

For more ideas visit: WAD Activities 2021 (ginasthma.org)

Tria Health and Asthma

Many patients decide to take medications to effectively manage their asthma. If Tria Health is offered through your benefits plan, you have the option of receiving a one-on-one, private consultation with one of Tria Health’s pharmacists over the phone. During your consultation, your pharmacist will review all your current medications, including vitamins and supplements. If you are interested in exploring medication treatments for asthma, Tria’s pharmacist will be able to provide you with recommendations.

Questions?

Call the Tria Health Help Desk: 1.888.799.8742

Sources:

  1. World Asthma Day: 5 May 2021 (firsnet.org)
  2. World Asthma Day 2021 – Global Initiative for Asthma – GINA (ginasthma.org)
  3. WHO | Asthma: Definition
  4. World Asthma Day 2021 – Event Info and Resources (twinkl.com)
  5. WAD Activities 2021 (ginasthma.org)

Drug Take Back Day

National Prescription Drug Take Back Day addresses a public health and safety issue. Too often unused and expired prescription medications get into the wrong hands. Disposing of medications safely can help protect your family from getting or using medications that are expired or out of date; prevent the illegal use of unused medications and minimize any potential negative impact on the environment.

At the last Drug Take Back Day in October, the DEA collected a record-high amount of expired, unused medications, close to 500 tons of unwanted drugs were turned in.4 Over the 10-year span of Drug Take Back Day, the DEA has brought in more than 6,800 tons of prescription drugs.4

Why can’t I throw out my medications at home?

Prescription medications left to expire in people’s homes are susceptible to misuse or abuse. Prescription drug abuse rates, overdose and accidental poisoning statistics are frighteningly high in the United States. During the pandemic, opioid overdose deaths have increased.4 Studies show that most abused prescription drugs are obtained from family and friends, or from home medicine cabinets.

Unfortunately, there are a lot of harmful myths floating around regarding medication disposal. Many people will try to flush their medications down the toilet or crush their medicines before throwing them in the trash. Flushing can end up polluting our waters and crushing medicines can put trash handlers at risk of exposure if the drug were to encounter their skin or if they were to breathe in the dust. Medicine take back programs are the best way to dispose of unwanted medicine.

What You Should Know  

The DEA can ONLY accept pills or patches. The DEA CANNOT accept liquids, needles, or sharps.

The DEA now advises against “usual methods” for disposing of unused medications. For more information about the disposal of prescription drugs, visit: National Prescription Drug Take Back Day (usdoj.gov).

Where do I go?

Visit the DEA’s website to find a collection site: https://takebackday.dea.gov/. Here you can input your zip code and find out where the closest drop off site is located.

How can Tria Health Help?

As a member of Tria Health, if you have multiple medications and are afraid, you will throw away the wrong medication, we can provide additional assistance in selecting the proper medications. Tria provides one-on-one consultations with a clinical pharmacist who assists you with your medication management.

Questions?

Call the Tria Health Help Desk at 1.888.799.8742

Sources:

  1. Take Back Day (dea.gov)
  2. dea national drug take back toolkit_final.pdf (memberclicks.net)
  3. 2016 National Survey on Drug Use and Health: Detailed Tables (samhsa.gov)
  4. DEA Announces 20th Take Back Day

Pharmacist Spotlight

Meet Annie Barry! Annie is one of our talented clinical pharmacists and this month we would like to spotlight her.

Specialty: Annie’s specialty as a clinical pharmacist is in chronic condition management. She is planning on specializing as a diabetes educator this year.

Favorite parts about working at Tria Health: There are many things Annie enjoys about working at Tria Health. She loves being able to hear about a patient’s background and how they got to where they are now. History with medications and conditions make a major impact with medication therapy management and determining what is best for patients. Her favorite part of working at Tria Health is the comradery and teamwork between not just the clinical team, but all teams within the company! To her, Tria Health feels like a family.

Career Goals: Annie’s long-term career goal is to become a Board-Certified Ambulatory Care pharmacist. This year, her goal is to become a certified diabetes educator.

Outside of work, Annie enjoys traveling, food and working out. She likes trying new activities and loves spring and summer for outdoor activities. We are so thankful to have Annie on our team!

Health Literacy

Managing chronic health conditions can be difficult when patients have low health literacy. Navigating and understanding a complex health care system is challenging. With the right training, health care professionals can communicate with patients more appropriately depending on their health literacy level.2

What is Health Literacy?

The CDC has defined Health literacy as:

  1. Personal health literacy: the degree to which individuals can find, understand and use information and services to inform health-related decisions and actions for themselves and others.1
  2. Organizational health literacy: the degree to which organizations equitably enable individuals to find, understand and use information and services to inform health-related decisions and actions for themselves and others.1

Health literacy is simply your ability to understand information about your body and health.5 Based on these definitions, people and organizations can use their health literacy skills to improve the health of their communities.1

Low Health Literacy Factors

Low health literacy leads to communication barriers between patients and their healthcare providers. It also results in a variety of negative health outcomes for patients.4 A few factors that lead to low health literacy are:

  • Education4
  • Age: on average, adults aged 65 and older have lower health literacy than adults under 65.4
  • Poverty4
  • Access to resources such as technology5
  • Language5
  • Culture5
  • Having a health condition that requires complex self-care.5

Why Health Literacy is Important

Understanding health information and services affects your health outcomes. Your level of health literacy determines your ability to navigate through the healthcare system, utilize preventative services and share your personal information with healthcare providers.5 Furthermore, having good health literacy skills enables you to:

  • Understand the choices you have about treatments, doctors and other items related to your condition.5
  • Stick to your treatment plan.5
  • Answer questions about your health conditions.5
  • Decide which services and options are best for you.5

Steps to Improve Your Health Literacy

If you would like to improve your health literacy:

  1. Ask questions: Do not be afraid to ask your healthcare professional questions. Explain that you are having a hard time understanding, they will be happy to help.5
  2. Ask for handouts: Handouts or other materials are helpful at explaining complicated information.5
  3. Do not believe everything that you read on the internet: Not all medical information websites are reviewed by experts. A good way to check if a website is reputable is to make sure the information is reviewed, confirmed and supported by different organizations.5
  4. Repeat what your doctor tells you in your own words: This will give you an opportunity to clarify anything that you misunderstood or discover anything you misheard.5

Tria Health & Health Literacy:

Tria Health is a no cost benefit available through select members’ health plans. Tria Health’s Pharmacy Advocate Program offers one-on-one, private consultations with a Tria Health Pharmacist. During your consultation, your pharmacist will review all your current medications, including vitamins and supplements. Tria Health will assist you in identifying any possible drug interactions or savings opportunities! Your pharmacist will work with you and your doctor(s) to ensure the intended outcomes from your medications are being received. Tria Health is here to help patients navigate their way through the multifaceted process of attaining care and properly utilizing their benefits. Our pharmacists take the time to make sure patients understand their conditions and how to effectively manage them.

Patient Success Story: Tria Triumph

Data does not lie; the real challenge lies when patients do not understand their data. Health literacy is key in this Tria Triumph.

A patient with diabetes had a consultation with one of our pharmacists. Her blood sugars were all over the place and she was feeling down. Our pharmacist uncovered that this patient was not taking her medications correctly and was also using an expired insulin pen. She did not completely understand her diagnosis, or the purpose of her medications.

Our pharmacist took the time to educate her on what diabetes is and how it affects her body. Additionally, our pharmacist recommended she talk with her doctor about an easier medication regimen.

Now this patient feels fantastic! Her doctor accepted the medication changes, and she is taking her medications as our pharmacist advised. Her blood sugar readings are excellent, and she feels better.

Because of the Tria Health program, this patient understands her diagnosis, knows how to effectively manage it and has the confidence to discuss outcomes with her providers.

Questions?

Contact the Tria Health Help Desk at 1.888.799.8742

Sources:

  1. What Is Health Literacy? | Health Literacy | CDC
  2. Health Literacy | Official web site of the U.S. Health Resources & Services Administration (hrsa.gov)
  3. Health Literacy | National Institutes of Health (NIH)
  4. Health Literacy | Healthy People 2020
  5. Health Literacy: Why it’s Important and How to Improve it (breastcancer.org)