Questions and Answers

What is COVID-19?

COVID-19 is a respiratory virus. It is thought to spread mainly between people who are in close contact with one another through respiratory droplets from an infected person. ▶ Read More

What are the symptoms?

Symptoms appear within a few days to 2 weeks after exposure. Symptoms include fever, cough, fatigue, aches, sore throat, congestion, nausea and a loss of taste or smell. ▶ Read More

When should I seek emergency medical attention?

When you have trouble breathing, persistent pain or pressure in the chest, new confusion, inability to wake or stay awake. ▶ Read More

What treatments exist for COVID-19?

Getting the vaccine is the best option. Once ill, rest, hydration and acetaminophen are basic treatments. More aggressive medical treatments are very limited.

How can I protect myself?

Vaccines are the best way to prevent severe illness. Fully vaccinated individuals are far less likely to be hospitalized or die from COVID-19. ▶ Read More

How can I protect others?

The best way to protect others is to get vaccinated; then encourage those around you to get the vaccine. Vaccines shorten the length of illness should you still get sick. The less time you are sick, the less time you can get your loved ones sick.

What do vaccinations cost?

Vaccinations are free.

Where do I get a vaccine locally?

At many clinics and pharmacies. Here is a list of locations. Find locations

What are my options if I do not want the vaccine?

Without a vaccine, the best protection is to avoid close contact with others.

Do people who get COVID-19 have other illnesses or weak immune systems?

Not necessarily. Anyone is susceptible to contracting COVID-19, though severe symptoms primarily impact those with underlying conditions.

Why is COVID-19 considered a pandemic?

A pandemic occurs when a virus spreads worldwide and infects many people. It is larger than an epidemic, which occurs in a given area or among a specific group of people.

What are the long-term effects of COVID-19?

Individuals can experience prolonged symptoms lasting many weeks or months. Described as long COVID, breathing and abdominal issues linger for 6-8 months in about one-third of cases. COVID-19 can cause long-term damage to the heart, lungs and brain.

Are masks a replacement for vaccinations?

No. Masks add an extra layer for you and those around you by minimizing the spread of respiratory droplets.

Are there other options apart from vaccines?

One criterion the FDA must verify before issuing an emergency use authorization is that there are no adequate, approved, and available alternatives to the vaccine.

Are the vaccines proven to be safe and effective?

The vaccines were given emergency use authorization by FDA which must be satisfied that benefits outweigh any risks. This includes scientific panels reviewing clinical trials, follow-up and safety data. In August 2021, the Pfizer vaccine received full FDA approval for people age 16 and older. Others are not far behind.

Was the vaccine rushed?

No, although this was a much faster timeline for vaccine development and approval. Emergency use authorization allowed production and shipping timelines to be condensed, and vaccine manufacturing to occur in parallel with clinical trials so no steps were skipped. These vaccines have and continue to receive the most intensive safety monitoring in the history of vaccines.

Are there short-term side effects from the vaccines?

Side effects sometimes include temporary swelling or redness at the injection site, headache, muscle pain, tiredness, chills or fever. More serious side effects are extremely rare and generally occur within six weeks of receiving a vaccine.

Are vaccines safe for those who are or want to become pregnant?

Yes. The American College of Obstetricians & Gynecologists, the Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention all recommend that pregnant individuals take a COVID-19 vaccine. Pregnant individuals face an increased risk of severe complications or death due to COVID-19.

Why are all kids not yet eligible for vaccines?

Pfizer and Moderna are studying the vaccines in younger children and expect to receive authorization for children as young as 5 in late 2021. The companies expect data about children under 5 to be released shortly after that.

How did other viruses go away?

Some have been suppressed through widespread vaccine use, including polio and smallpox. Others faded due to a lack of transmission. Many viruses linger in the wild.

Might our bodies develop immunity naturally?

Maybe. Experts continue to study COVID-19 natural immunity and vaccine-induced immunity. Studies to-date indicate that those who were infected without vaccination are twice as likely to be infected again as compared to those vaccinated.

Why is there such a push for vaccinations?

Vaccines are the best-known way to avoid severe illness and minimize the spread of COVID-19.

What is the difference between COVID-19 and the delta variant?

The delta variant is a new version of COVID-19, and it is much more contagious. The variant accounts for nearly every COVID-19 case in the U.S. as of September 2021. While the symptoms are the same, they have been found to be more intense in the delta variant, particularly among young people.

Can an individual still get sick after receiving the vaccine?

It is possible and breakthrough cases are being reported. The small percentage of vaccinated people infected with the delta variant generally have milder symptoms.

What will it take to end the pandemic and move beyond COVID-19?

The pandemic ends when the virus is no longer prevalent throughout the word as determined by the World Health Organization.

When will we get to “herd immunity?”

To achieve herd immunity against COVID-19, a substantial portion of the population would need to be vaccinated. This was thought to be about 70 percent, although the emergence of variants makes herd immunity more challenging.

Will booster vaccinations be required?

The Food and Drug Administration has authorized booster shots for the Moderna, Pfizer and Johnson & Johnson vaccines. Eligible individuals include those 65 years and older, as well as those 18 years and older who live in long-term care settings, who have underlying medical conditions, or who work or live in high-risk settings. Individuals can receive booster vaccines that differ from the vaccines they originally received. ▶ Read More