Author: Community Health Net

Do I need to get vaccinated if I had COVID?

“I’ve heard people say, “Well, I have had COVID so I’ve been exposed. Therefore, my immune system is producing the proteins or antibodies. So I should be good, right?” And we’re even telling the people that have been exposed to get vaccinated because we don’t know how long that natural immunity, that production of natural antibodies when you get exposed to it will actually last. We don’t know if it’s three months, six months, a year.”

How much do we know about mRNA?

“I have been doing clinical and basic science research for most of my career. I am a clinician-scientist. I started the Center for Women’s Health Research at Meharry, which was the first center that looked at diseases that disproportionately impacted women of color almost 15 or so years ago. So, I’ve been involved in research for a long period of time. So, one of the things that I knew is that the mRNA—the messenger RNA technology—has been in development for the last 12 years. So even though you hear this thing about warp speed, believe me, that did not warp speed. It just happened to be at a time, at a point in time, where it was ready for prime time. And, so, looking for a candidate vaccine to actually showcase this technology. So, I was very comfortable with that.”

Were Black people included in the COVID vaccine research studies?

“I was a part of the expert African American panel, which is a group of providers like myself, nurses, doctors, community, people, et cetera. That was created through the NIH to review the various different vaccine protocols for the different companies that were developing the vaccine. Taking off my hat as a clinician and a researcher, I have to go home and have conversations with my mom, with my dad and my grandparents about the vaccine and why taking the vaccine is important. Being on that—on the panel—and reviewing the protocols with the rest of my colleagues, it gave me great insight. So now I can have this conversation with you. I can have it with my family, and I can say, “Actually, we were represented in the trials, and this is the, you know, these are the numbers, et cetera.” And it makes, even with my patients, it makes for better conversations because I can have that discussion with them.”

What is emergency use authorization?

“The vaccines that are currently available were approved through a process called emergency authorization, which we need. We need to have the ability when there is an emergency to have medications on the market to meet that need. There are going to be future emergencies. This is not the first and it won’t be the last. There’s an opportunity for us to really say, “Yes, we have an average time that it takes to make—take a medication to market.” And if that’s on average, there are some medicines that take longer. I mean, and there are some medicines that we need today. And, so, we know that hundreds of thousands of people are dying in the United States alone, much less around the world. And, so, having an emergency authorization for these medications was critical, but that doesn’t mean any steps were cut. That doesn’t mean that it’s not safe and it’s not effective. That just means we needed it today. And we did. And we’re happy that it’s here.”

A Message from the CEO

It is well documented that African American communities have suffered far more from COVID-19.  Chronic diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, substance abuse, living conditions, poverty,  poor access to quality healthcare, lack of access to fresh fruits and vegetables all contribute to an unfair experience with this pandemic.

Equally well known is the distrust of government, health care professionals, institutions, and science-based information by many Black Americans. The specter of the Tuskegee Syphilis Study, the experience of Henrietta Lacks, and other examples complicate the response to the COVID-19 pandemic in communities.

With vaccine distribution ramping up across the country, it is more important than ever that Erie’s African American community have credible and accurate information to fight against this deadly disease. That is why CHN is presenting content from Greater Than COVID’s “The Conversation.”  This weekly journal of over 50 videos from black health care workers answer questions and dispel misinformation that has filled social media and is an assault on Black communities.

Join the Conversation 

What about side effects from the COVID vaccine?

“I think when people in their mind think of side effects, it’s something that happens that’s not supposed to happen. And when you look at what’s happening after some people get the COVID vaccine the common things soreness at the injection site, headache, fever, maybe a swollen lymph node. Those are vaccine anticipated reactions. So, I always tell people, “Those are good signs.” You want to see that cause, you know, the vaccine is working in your body and those are very brief and short lasting. And so, the abnormal reactions or the true side effects are very, very rare.”

Let’s talk about the different COVID vaccines

“As of March 2021, we have three COVID-19 vaccines that have been authorized by the FDA for emergency use. Those include the Moderna vaccine, the Pfizer vaccine, and the J and J or Janssen vaccine. The questions I’m hearing from the Black community about the Johnson and Johnson vaccines is, “Does it work as well as the other vaccines?” And the second most common question is, “Which one would you get?” They all basically do the same thing. They’re all really, really good at preventing people from getting seriously sick that would result in them, you know, ending up in the hospital or dying. One of the things that’s confusing about comparing the J and J vaccine to the Moderna and the Pfizer vaccines is that people are comparing these numbers, the efficacy. For the Johnson and Johnson vaccine, the number is around 72%, compared to 94 and 95% for the other vaccines. Efficacy refers to the degree in which the intervention works in a study. You know, in a study it’s called efficacy, but in a real world application, it would be called effectiveness. So if you compare the raw numbers, 72 versus 94 I know it doesn’t sound, it doesn’t sound great for J and J that it’s 72 versus 94. The truth, is trying to compare them, is like comparing apples and oranges. It’s actually not a fair comparison. And the reason is because the Johnson and Johnson vaccine was tested when we had the mutations versus the other two vaccines. They weren’t tested against the mutations. Considering all three vaccines, the similarities being that they all work really well to prevent serious illness leading to hospitalizations and deaths. Our biggest concern should be whether or not we are saving lives. Are people dying? Are people being hospitalized? All of these vaccines are preventing deaths. If I had a choice between them, I would probably take the J and J vaccine. I would choose it because it’s only one shot. And the vaccine is just as good. I’m not a person who enjoys being shot or given an injection, so, if I can get a vaccine that only has one shot, you know, that works for me. Get whichever vaccine is available to you first. If you’re offered the Pfizer, take it. If you’re offered the Moderna, take it. If you’re offered the J and J, take it. It’s been a long road and vaccinations will help us get there.”e

May is National High Blood Pressure Education Month

High blood pressure is a common condition that is a leading risk factor for heart disease, stroke, and vascular dementia.

Get The Facts.

  • Certain factors increase your risk for high blood pressure, such as:
    • Being overweight
    • Having a family history of high blood pressure
    • Eating too much salt
    • Drinking too much alcohol
    • Increasing age

Take Action.

  • Get regular check-ups and talk to your doctor about any of your concerns
  • Stay at a healthy weight or lose extra weight.
  • Eat heart-healthy foods and limit sodium.
  • Exercise regularly.
  • Limit alcohol to 2 drinks a day for men and 1 drink a day for women.

What is High Blood Pressure?

Another name for high blood pressure is hypertension. Blood pressure is a measure of how hard the blood pushes against the walls of your arteries as it moves through your body. Your blood pressure naturally goes up and down throughout the day. When blood pressure is high, it causes damage to your blood vessel walls that worsen over time. High blood pressure is serious, but the good news is that there are many ways to manage blood pressure.


Call Community Health Net to schedule an appointment with a provider today: (814) 455-7222. Or visit for more information.

Our health information does not replace the advice of a doctor. Please be advised that this information is made available to assist the public to learn more about their health. Community Health Net providers may not see and/or treat all topics found herein.

Health Facts is a public service partnership of Community Health Net and CF Cares of Country Fair Stores, Inc.


PA Department of Health Identifies Community Health Net as “Best-in-Class Equity Performer”

COVID-19 vaccinations on par or in greater proportions to county racial/ethnic minority.

Erie, Pa. – April 28, 2021 – Community Health Net (CHN), the leading Federally Qualified Health Center (FQHC) serving the Lake Erie region, announced it was named “Best-in-Class Equity Performer” by the Pennsylvania Department of Health.  The designation, issued by Parker Beene, Executive Advisor, Secretary of Health,  states that CHN facilities are vaccinating on par or in greater proportions to Erie County’s racial/ethnic minority populations.  The conclusion is an affirmation of Community Health Net’s efforts to distribute doses of the COVID-19 vaccine throughout the region equitably.

“This recognition is aligned with our mission to improve the quality of life in our region by providing professional healthcare services with compassion, respect, and dignity to all,“ said Craig Ulmer, CEO of Community Health Net.  “It highlights the success, tremendous work, and positive impact of distributing vaccines equitably to our community by the CHN team during this public health crisis.“

To distribute its Moderna supply equitably, Community Health Net focused on reaching out to minority populations through dialogue and engagement with community leaders and influencers.  The health center also used targeted efforts through flyers, mailings, and other media channels to inform individuals while providing easy access to online registration for the vaccine.  Additionally, CHN maintained open communication channels with state and federal agencies while providing consistent availability to community members throughout the crisis.

“We are proud of Community Health Net and excited by this designation and what it means for the people of Erie.  It is a testimonial to the resolve of our health centers to help ensure equitable health outcomes for all of our communities,” said Cheri Rinehart, President & Chief Executive Officer of the Pennsylvania Association of Community Health Centers.  The organization is the state primary care association (PCA) for community health centers, serving more than 900,000 patients annually at 300-plus sites in underserved rural and urban areas. “This finding is reflective of our commitment to provide affordable, quality health care for all by supporting the largest network of primary health care providers in the commonwealth.”

Get Active

If you feel stress or anxiety during the COVID-19 health crisis, you’re not alone. Staying active during this time may improve both your mood and your physical health. And when you find the right exercise, it can be fun. For many people, being active can reduce stress, blood pressure and improve sleep. You may want to start by walking for just 10 minutes. Try walking around the block every morning or take a stroll during your lunch break.

Staying Active at Home During the Pandemic

  • If you have kids, involve them in activities. Have a dance party, play chase, or jump rope. Be silly with kids. They’ll love it.
  • Do relaxation and flexibility exercises like yoga or Pilates.
  • Try an exercise routine that uses your body weight as resistance. Pushups, crunches, and squats are examples of this kind of exercise. Many routines are available for free online.
  • Find creative ways to be active. Walk around during TV commercial breaks, read standing up, or make a standing desk. Daily routines like cooking, cleaning, and gardening can get you moving.

Living through a pandemic can take a toll on a person’s motivation. Remember that there are many ways to stay safe during this time while remaining active. Make a plan. Invite some of your friends to get active with you!

Call us at (814) 455-7222