Amidst all the Coronavirus Pandemic information and misinformation circling around us, there is a two-word phrase that holds a lot of promise in the fight against COVID but is kind of mystery for a lot of us.

I'm talking about Monoclonal Antibodies.

What are they and how do they work?  Let's let the "combat covid" website explain.

"Your body naturally makes antibodies to fight infection. However, your body may not have antibodies designed to recognize a novel (or new) virus like SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. Monoclonal antibodies, or mAbs, are made in a laboratory to fight a particular infection—in this case, SARS-CoV-2—and are given to patients directly with an infusion. That’s why mAb treatment may help patients who are at high risk for serious symptoms or having to stay in the hospital."

What's The Difference?

There is a difference between a COVID-19 vaccine and a monoclonal antibody treatment. The vaccine shot tells your body’s natural immune response to get to work and make antibodies, but that can take some time to develop.  The monoclonal antibody treatment actually gives your body the antibodies it needs to protect itself.

So now you know and so what?

Well, keep reading because monoclonal antibody treatment is coming to Yakima.

Memorial says - "Yakima Valley Memorial is offering a promising new treatment for high-risk COVID-19 patients at our new COVID Assessment & Treatment Clinic. Early intervention with monoclonal antibody (mAb) therapy can reduce the risk of severe illness and hospitalization for people with COVID-19 who are at high risk of developing serious illness."

With a provider’s referral, it is available as a subcutaneous injection only and patients may be eligible if they meet the following criteria:

· Are age 12 and older

· Have tested positive for COVID-19 and 7 days or less have passed since symptom onset

· Are experiencing mild to moderate symptoms of COVID-19

· Unvaccinated or partially vaccinated OR vaccinated and older than 70 years of age

· OR vaccinated with moderate/severe immunosuppression

Risk factors for severe illness and hospitalization with COVID-19 include:

· Older age 65 or older

· Obesity adults with a Body Mass Index (BMI) of 35 or more, or if age 12-17, a BMI in the 90th percentile for your age and gender-based on CDC growth charts

· Currently Pregnant

· Chronic Kidney Disease

· Diabetes

· Immunosuppressive disease or immunosuppressive treatment

· Cardiovascular disease or hypertension

· Chronic lung diseases

· Sickle cell disease

· Neurodevelopmental disorders such as cerebral palsy or other genetic or metabolic syndromes

So Where's The Clinic?

Memorial’s COVID Assessment & Treatment Clinic (CAAT) is located at 1607 Creekside Loop, Ste. 100, Yakima. Monoclonal antibody therapy is available from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Mon.-Fri (except from noon-1 p.m.). Phone: 509-225-2091. The supply of mAb is limited, so it is available on a first-come, first-served basis. Patients are not able to self-schedule. Most insurance is accepted, but patients should check with their insurance carrier.

The treatment can help after infection, but Yakima Valley Memorial and the Yakima Health District reminds that vaccination and masking are the gold standards in preventing COVID-19 infection. “We are excited to have this new treatment available for COVID-19 in our community. While this treatment option is available, we must keep in mind that the best way to protect yourself in our community is to get vaccinated and follow public health recommendations to prevent the spread of COVID-19. We know that vaccines are by far the most effective measure to prevent severe illness, hospitalization, and death. It is important we all do our part to slow the spread of COVID-19 in our community.” — Dr. Neil Barg, Health Officer, Yakima Health District, and director of hospital epidemiology at Yakima Valley Memorial.

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