- Masks required >>
- Getting needed medical care >>
- COVID-19 Testing >>
- COVID-19 Vaccine >>
- Antibody testing >>
- COVID-19 Basics >>
- If you have flu-like symptoms >>
- Resources >>
Masks are required at Family Care Network:
- At all times
- In all locations
- For staff, providers and patients
- Regardless of vaccination status
This is in accordance with updated CDC and Washington state guidelines that require a mask in healthcare facilities.
Patients should keep their mask on at all times, including when waiting in an exam room. Do not remove or lower your mask unless instructed to do so by your provider.
If you have a medical reason for not wearing a mask, either call ahead or let our staff know upon your arrival that you will need special accommodation. This may include waiting in an alternate location until it is time to provide care, such as outside, in a vehicle, or other dedicated space. If needed, patients can be brought through an alternate entrance to reduce the risk of exposure in the waiting room. Depending on the reason for the visit, care can sometimes be provided while the patient remains in their car.
Getting needed medical care
Don't put off medical care -- your health is too important!
As a patient of Family Care Network, you can access care via telemedicine or in our clinics. On-demand telemedicine for urgent care is also available.
If you need to be seen in the office, we have strong protective meaures in place to keep our patients safe.
To help with our efforts to reduce exposure risk:
- Most exam rooms and lab draw stations are small and do not provide adequate space for social distancing. Appointments are for the patient only, unless assistance is required or the patient is a minor child.
- We ask that only one adult attend well child exams and/or appointments for immunizations.
- Patients with respiratory symptoms may be asked to wait in their car until their appointment time, then be escorted directly to exam rooms instead of using the waiting room.
- State guidelines require that all patients, visitors, staff and providers wear a mask while in the clinic. Clinics can provide a mask to patients who do not have one. Patients not wearing a mask will be asked to wait in their car or outside until they can be escorted directly to a room.
Seeking care for flu-like or respiratory symptoms:
- Most viruses can be adequately cared for from home with rest, fluids, and over-the-counter medications.
- If you have questions about your symptoms or if your symptoms worsen, please call ahead for an appointment at your regular primary care clinic. All FCN providers offer visits via telemedicine, a secure and convenient option for virtual healthcare. Telemedicine>>
- After regular clinic hours, call your primary care office to speak with the on-call provider PRIOR to seeking care at an urgent care center or emergency department. We are often able to assess symptoms and provide guidance over the phone to avoid unnecessary visits. After-hours Contact Information>>
- If you arrive at one of our primary care or urgent care clinics with respiratory or flu-like symptoms (fever, cough, sore throat, runny nose, muscle aches, fatigue, etc), please do NOT immediately enter the waiting room. Instead, please wait in your car and call the clinic to let staff know you have arrived.
- While in your car, you may be screened by our triage staff to gather more medical information on your condition.
- If you are asked to come into the main clinic waiting room, you may be asked to wear protective gear. Select patients may be evaluated in their cars or escorted through an alternate clinic entrance.
- Testing for flu and/or COVID-19 will be based on protocols provided by local health agencies.
If you are an FCN patient and think you need a COVID-19 test, please read this first: COVID-19 Testing Information for FCN patients >>
If you are not a patient of Family Care Network, you can see a provider at one of our Urgent Care locations or through our On-Demand Telemedicine service. If you are experiencing flu-like symptoms, please call ahead to describe your symptoms BEFORE seeking care in an office, urgent care, or emergency department. Keep yourself separated from other household members as much as possible.
A visit is required for an FCN provider to place an order for COVID-19 testing. Testing is typically performed at an FCN location. Patients with an order can also schedule a COVID-19 test at NW Laboratory in Bellingham.
COVID-19 testing is available in Whatcom and Skagit County without an order from a healthcare provider. Learn more here:
COVID-19 Vaccine - updated 10/22/2021
Family Care Network strongly recommend getting a COVID-19 vaccine to protect yourself and others. All available vaccines offer exceptional protection from serious illness or hospitlaization from COVID, including the delta variant.
Multiple local healthcare organizations, pharmacies and health departments offer COVID vaccine. Local health departments are also holding pop-up vaccination clinics in various locations each week. Check pharmacy and/or health department websites, or the Department of Health Vaccine Locator for more information. FCN locations no longer offer COVID-19 vaccine.
COVID-19 vaccine during pregnancy
Getting vaccinated is the most important thing you can do to protect yourself and your baby against COVID. Pregnant women who become infected with COVID have increased risk for pregnancy and personal health complications. COVID vaccines are safe and effective and strongly recommended by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, the Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine, the CDC, and Family Care Network. Please review the links below and let your doctor know if you have any questions.
Booster vaccine doses
On September 24, the CDC approved a booster dose of Pfizer vaccine for additional groups. This includes adults age 65 and older; people in institutions, homeless shelters, and long-term care facilities; and people with underlying medical conditions. It is also recommended for people who work in high-risk occupations, such as healthcare, education, day care, corrections, public transit, postal service, food and agriculture, manufacturing, and grocery stores. The Pfizer booster shot should be given at least six months after the second dose.
On October 21, the CDC approved booster doses for the Janssen (J&J) vaccine and the Moderna vaccine. The Moderna booster vaccine is recommended for the same groups identified for the Pfiizer booster (see above), at least six months after completing the original series. J&J booster shots are recommended for those who are 18 and older and who were vaccinated two or more months ago. The CDC recommendations also allow for mixing different brands of vaccine for the booster dose. For example, if you initially received Moderna vaccine, it would be acceptable to get a booster dose of Pfizer vaccine.
FCN does not offer booster doses, but they are widely available through local pharmacies or health departments. Use the Vaccine Locator to find a location near you.
Refer to your vaccination card for the type and date of COVID-19 vaccine received. You can also get personal vaccination records through the Washington State Immunization Information System (WAIIS) at wa.myir.net.
Third dose for immunocompromised individuals
On August 16, the CDC recommended a third dose of mRNA vaccine (Pfizer or Moderna) for moderately to severely immunocompromised people, which includes people who have:
- Been receiving active cancer treatment for tumors or cancers of the blood
- Received an organ transplant and are taking medicine to suppress the immune system
- Received a stem cell transplant within the last 2 years or are taking medicine to suppress the immune system
- Moderate or severe primary immunodeficiency (such as DiGeorge syndrome, Wiskott-Aldrich syndrome)
- Advanced or untreated HIV infection
- Active treatment with high-dose corticosteroids or other drugs that may suppress your immune response
For people in this group, the recommendation is to get an additional dose of mRNA vaccine (Pfizer or Moderna) at least 28 days after the second dose is administered. It is also recommended that the third dose is the same brand as what was received initially. The third dose recommendation does not apply to the Janssen (Johnson & Johnson) vaccine.
Please schedule an appointment with your healthcare provider to discuss your individual medical condition(s), to determine if additional vaccine is right for you.
What to expect after vaccination:
Side effects from a COVID vaccine generally occur within two days and last about a day. Not all people experience side effects; those that have been reported include:
- Injection site reactions: pain, tenderness and swelling of the lymph nodes in the same arm of the injection, swelling (hardness), and localized rash/redness
- General side effects: fatigue, headache, muscle pain, joint pain, chills, nausea and vomiting, and fever
There is a remote chance that a COVID vaccine could cause a severe allergic reaction. For this reason, patients are asked to remain at the location where they receive their vaccine for 15 minutes for monitoring. We recommend that patients with a history of severe reaction to vaccines schedule an appointment at a clinic location (not our drive-through) to support additional monitoring.
Complete vaccine information is available on the CDC website.
To help track side effects, the CDC offers v-safe, a smartphone-based tool that uses text messaging and web surveys to provide personalized health check-ins after you receive a COVID-19 vaccination. Participation in v-safe is optional. To register, go to vsafe.cdc.gov.
General vaccine info:
Please check the CDC website for up-to-date vaccine information regarding safety, benefits, the different vaccines being considered, and how the CDC is making recommendations for vaccination.
The Washington State Department of Health website also posts current information about vaccines, or you can call their COVID-19 Assistance Hotline at 1-800-525-0127.
COVID-19 Antibody Testing
An antibody test detects coronavirus antibodies in individuals who have been exposed to the virus. It is unknown what a positive antibody test means for COVID-19. For some viruses, a person with a positive antibody test would be considered “immune” to re-infection, however we do not know if this is true for COVID-19. Antibody testing provides valuable data for medical research and our understanding of the virus, however it should not be used to change our approach to the pandemic.
Antibody lab testing at FCN:
FCN providers are able to order a COVID-19 IgG antibody test for their patients when deemed appropriate.
If you are interested in this test, please follow these recommendations:
- Contact your regular primary care provider to discuss the test and its limitations. Your provider may need to schedule a telephone consult or telemedicine visit with you.
- Contact your insurance company to ask if the test is covered under your specific benefit plan. The cost of the test will likely include both a draw fee and a processing fee.
COVID-19 is a new strain of a respiratory coronavirus. It has symptoms similar to the flu or other upper respiratory illness: fever, cough, muscle aches, sore throat, fatigue, runny nose, etc.
To reduce the risk of contracting COVID-19, all eligible individuals are strongly encouraged to get vaccincated. This applies particularly to people at higher risk of severe illness: people over 60 years of age; people with underlying health conditions including heart disease, lung disease or diabetes; people with weakened immune systems; and pregnant women. Until you are fully vaccinated, it is best to restrict close interactions with other people and wear a mask in public places.
People without symptoms can be infected with the virus, which means they can unknowingly spread it to others. Check with state and county health departments for restrictions on businesses, schools, and public gatherings.
We recommend the following resources for current, trustworthy information about COVID-19:
- CDC: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html
- Whatcom County Health Department: www.whatcomcounty.us/3329/Novel-Coronavirus-COVID-19
- Skagit County Health Department: www.skagitcounty.net/Departments/HealthDiseases/coronavirus.htm
- Washington State Health Department: www.doh.wa.gov/emergencies/coronavirus
- Washington State Coronavirus Response: https://www.coronavirus.wa.gov/
Last updated: 9/27/2021