COVID-19 Resources for Patients

The COVID-19 pandemic has created some confusion in our daily lives and has made it hard to know how to keep you and your family safe. This page is here to help you and your family feel confident that you are being safe and making healthy choices.

Overview

On March 11, 2020, the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a pandemic. One year later, by March 11, 2021, there had been over 29 million cases and over 530,000 deaths recorded in the United States.1 Thanks to our hardworking healthcare workers, scientists, and other public health officials, there is a light at the end of the tunnel. But we still have more work to do to beat the COVID-19 pandemic. Get vaccinated and save lives.

General information about COVID-19

Get Vaccine Answers (Ad Council)

Top questions from Americans with science-backed, CDC-vetted answers.

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Factsheet on FREE COVID-19 Vaccines for Uninsured Patients

This provide important fact on how uninsured patients can access FREE COVID-19 vaccines, testing, and treatment.

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A Community Toolkit for Addressing Health Misinformation

U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy releases a Community Toolkit for Addressing Health Misinformation to help Americans navigate the serious threat of health misinformation, especially online.

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COVID-19 Variants (CDC)

About variants of the virus that causes COVID-19​​.

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Vaccine Information for Specific Groups (CDC)

Vaccines are widely available for everyone 12 years and older at no cost.

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Variant Classifications and Definitions (CDC)

Information on SARS-CoV-2 variant classifications and definitions.

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Key Things to Know About COVID-19 Vaccines (CDC)

What we do and don’t know about COVID-19 vaccines.

Monoclonal Antibody Therapy (HHS)

Answers to common questions about monoclonal antibody therapy.

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Myths and Facts about COVID-19 Vaccines (CDC)

Before considering vaccine information on the Internet, check that the information comes from a credible source and is updated on a regular basis.

U.S. COVID Risk & Vaccine Tracker (CovidActNow)

Vaccine progress, community risk levels, and trends updated daily.

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Joint Statement from HHS Public Health and Medical Experts on COVID-19 Booster Shots

On August 18, 2021, public health and medical experts from HHS released a statement on the Administration’s plan for COVID-19 booster shots.

Spanish-Language Resources

Resources for those impacted by the pandemic

Resources for parents and families

How to Protect Yourself and Your Loved Ones from COVID-19

Do’s

  • Get vaccinated!
  • Social distance – stay 6 feet away from other people
  • Wear a mask that covers your mouth and nose
  • Avoid large crowds and poorly ventilated spaces
  • Wash your hands often
  • Clean and disinfect high-touch surfaces
  • Monitor your health daily

Don’ts

  • Don’t spend time in crowds in places like in restaurants, bars, fitness centers, or movie theaters
  • Don’t touch your face (eyes, mouth, and nose) with unwashed hands
  • Don’t leave your house if you are feeling unwell
  • Don’t wear a dirty mask2

Who is most at risk for COVID-19?

  • Older adults (aged 65 and older)
  • Pregnant and recently pregnant people3
  • People with certain medical conditions, such as:
    • Cancer, chronic kidney disease, chronic lung diseases, dementia or other neurological conditions, diabetes, Down syndrome, heart conditions, HIV, immunocompromised state, liver disease, obesity, pregnancy, sickle cell disease or thalassemia, smoking, recipients of a solid organ or blood stem cell transplant, and stroke or cerebrovascular disease, substance use disorders4

COVID-19 Vaccinations

The COVID-19 shots are a proven way to help us get back to normal. There are various types of shots available. Please read below to learn about making the next step to get vaccinated!

Where to get the Vaccine

Visit vaccine.gov for updates on vaccine distribution. Vaccines are being offered at many local health centers and private pharmacies.
  • CVS
  • Walgreens
  • Rite Aid
  • Walmart Pharmacies
  • Costco
  • Publix

The full list of participating pharmacies is available on the CDC’s website.

What are the benefits of getting the COVID-19 vaccine?

  • COVID-19 vaccines can protect you from getting the COVID-19 virus
  • COVID-19 vaccines help prevent serious illness even if you do contract COVID-19
  • Getting vaccinated protects people around you, particularly people at increased risk for severe illness
  • Fully vaccinated people with breakthrough infections from the Delta variant appear to be infectious for a shorter period
  • Once you are fully vaccinated, you can resume many activities that you did before the pandemic
  • COVID-19 vaccinations provide strong boosts in protection  if you have recovered from COVID-195

Myths and Facts about COVID-19

There is so much information going around about COVID-19, and this makes it hard for you to know what is true and what is a myth. When we get our information from sources that are not reliable, this can lead us to be more afraid and to make choices that are not in the best interest of our own health. Let’s take a look at some of the common myths that have been going around about COVID-19 and see what the facts are!

Myths

Will the COVID-19 vaccine alter my DNA?

NO. COVID-19 vaccines do not interact with DNA.6

Can the CDC force me to get a COVID-19 vaccine?

NO. The government does not require vaccinations. However, state and local governments as well as employers may require vaccinations for specific purposes.6

Will I test positive for viral COVID-19 after receiving the vaccine?

NO. Current vaccines do not cause recipients to test positive on any viral tests.6

Can the COVID-19 vaccine make me sick with COVID-19?

NO. None of the emergency authorized vaccines use a live virus. Some people may feel symptoms after receiving the vaccine, but these are due to your body’s response to the vaccine as it builds fighter cells called antibodies. Any sickness that you may feel is likely due to your body making fighter cells, and they are not COVID-19 symptoms.6

Facts

Is it safe to get a vaccine if I want to have a baby in the future?

YES. There is no evidence that COVID-19 vaccines cause any problems with pregnancy. In fact, the same number of women have been able to get pregnant after getting a COVID-19 shot when compared to women who have not had the shot at all.6

Are alcohol-based sanitizers safe for everyone’s use?

YES. Alcohol sanitizers have NOT been shown to create any relevant health issues when used properly.7

Will touching a communal bottle of alcohol-based sanitizer infect me?

NO. Once you’ve sanitized your hands, you have disinfected them from any germs that may have been present on the bottle.

Does the extended use of medical masks, when properly worn, cause oxygen deficiency?

NO. Masks will not cause decreases in oxygen level.8

COVID-19 Community Tracker

Covid Act Now has real-time COVID data and risk level for your community. See how your community is doing at covidactnow.org.

COVID-19 Virus Variants

What is a variant?

A variant is a strain of the virus which has changed through mutation. Sometimes new variants emerge and then disappear, and other times they persist. New variants are expected to occur.9 

Are there variants in the US?

As of August 6, 2021, there are 4 variants of concern in the United States: Alpha, Beta, Gamma, and Delta.9

Are these variants more dangerous?

Some variants, such as Delta, spread more easily and quickly than others, which could lead to an increase in cases. An increase in the number of cases will put more strain on healthcare resources, lead to more hospitalizations, and potentially more deaths.9

Do COVID-19 shots protect against the COVID-19 variants?

Currently authorized vaccines are effective against all variants of concern in the U.S. All vaccines are particularly effective against severe illness, hospitalization and death.9

mRNA Vaccines

  • mRNA vaccines are a new type of vaccine that protect against infectious diseases.
  • mRNA vaccines teach our cells how to make a protein — or even just a piece of a protein — that triggers an immune response inside our bodies.
  • The benefit of mRNA vaccines, like all vaccines, is that vaccinated people gain protection without ever having to risk the serious consequences of getting sick with COVID-19.
  • Researchers have been studying and working with mRNA vaccines for decades, including for flu, Zika, rabies, and cytomegalovirus (CMV).10

Shots that use Viral Vectors (FAQ)

Does the viral vector vaccine use a live virus?

  • NO. The vaccines use a modified version of a different virus (the vector).11

How does it work?

  • First, the vector enters a cell in our body and then uses the cell’s machinery to produce a harmless piece of the virus that causes COVID-19. This piece is known as a spike protein and it is only found on the surface of the virus.
  • Next, the cell displays the spike protein on its surface and our immune system recognizes it doesn’t belong there. Our immune system then begins producing antibodies and activates other immune cells to fight off what it thinks is an infection.
  • At the end of the process, our bodies have learned how to protect us against future infection with the virus that causes COVID-19.11

Can viral vector vaccines give me COVID-19?

NO. Viral vectors cannot cause infection with COVID-19.11

Do viral vector vaccines interact with or change my DNA?

NO. Viral vector vaccines do not interact with DNA in any way.11

Which vaccines use viral vectors?

Johnson & Johnson

What to do if you or someone you have been in contact with has tested positive for COVID-19

If you have been vaccinated:

Unless you are showing symptoms of COVID-19, you do not need to quarantine. However, fully vaccinated people should get tested 3-5 days after exposure, even if you don’t have symptoms. If you’ve been exposed to COVID-19 but have no symptoms, you should still wear a mask indoors in public for 14 days following exposure or until your test result is negative.12

If you have not been vaccinated:

Quarantine if you have been in close contact (within 6 feet of someone for a cumulative total of 15 minutes or more over a 24-hour period) with someone who has COVID-19.

  • Stay home for 14 days after your last contact with a person who has COVID-19.
  • Watch for fever (100.4◦F), cough, shortness of breath, or other symptoms of COVID-19.
  • If possible, stay away from people you live with, especially people who are at higher risk for getting very sick from COVID-19.

Your local public health authorities make the final decisions about how long quarantine should last, based on local conditions and needs. Follow the recommendations of your local public health department if you need to quarantine. Options they will consider include stopping quarantine:

  • After day 10 without testing
  • After day 7 after receiving a negative test result (test must occur on day 5 or later)12

What to do if you lose your Vaccine card:

If you have lost your vaccination card or don’t have a copy, contact your vaccination provider directly to access your vaccination record.

  • If you cannot contact your vaccination provider directly, contact your state health department’s immunization information system (IIS). You can find state IIS information on the CDC website. Vaccination providers are required to report COVID-19 vaccinations to their IIS and related systems.
  • If you enrolled in v-safe or VaxText after your first vaccine dose, you can access your vaccination information using those tools.
  • If you have made every effort to locate your vaccination information, are unable to get a copy or replacement of your vaccination card, and still need a second shot, talk to a vaccination provider.

Possible Side Effects for All Shots

Side effects are a result of your body’s immune response in an attempt to create antibodies. Side effects are NOT due to infection of COVID-19. After the second shot, symptoms may be worse. Call your doctor if redness or tenderness of injection site after worsens after 24 hours, or if side effects are concerning and are not going away after a few days.

 

Side effects in the arm:

  • Pain
  • Redness
  • Swelling

Side effects throughout the body:

  • Tiredness
  • Headache
  • Muscle pain
  • Chills
  • Fever
  • Nausea

After vaccination, you should apply a wet, cool compress to the injection site, move/use your arm often, drink fluids, and monitor how you are feeling.13

I Want to Know Why the J&J Vaccine Was Paused, Is It Safe?

The CDC and U.S. FDA recommend the emergency use of the Johnson & Johnson (J&J) shot. The vaccine has resumed use in the U.S. after a temporary pause.14

Why were J&J vaccinations paused?

Reports of adverse events following the use of J&J/Janssen vaccine suggest an increased risk of a rare adverse event called thrombosis with thrombocytopenia syndrome (TTS). Nearly all reports of this serious condition, which involves blood clots with low platelets, have been in adult women younger than 50 years old.14

Why did the pause end?

A review of all available data at this time shows that the J&J/Janssen COVID-19 Vaccine’s known and potential benefits outweigh its known and potential risks.14

Who is the most vulnerable group?

Women younger than 50 years old especially should be aware of the rare but increased risk of this adverse event and that there are other COVID-19 vaccine options available for which this risk has not been seen.14

Getting Tested for COVID-19

Getting tested for COVID-19 is easy and free. Please read below for information on who should get tested and why.

Who should get tested

The following people should get tested for COVID-19:

  • People who have symptoms of COVID-19.
  • People who have had a known exposure to someone with suspected or confirmed COVID-19.
  • People who are fully vaccinated should get tested 3-5 days after exposure, and wear a mask in public indoor settings for 14 days or until they receive a negative test result.
  • People who are not fully vaccinated should quarantine and be tested immediately after being identified, and, if negative, tested again in 5–7 days after last exposure or immediately if symptoms develop during quarantine.
  • People not fully vaccinated with COVID-19 vaccine who are prioritized for expanded community screening for COVID-19.
  • People not fully vaccinated with COVID-19 vaccine who have been asked or referred to get testing by their school, workplace, healthcare provider, state, tribal, local or territorial health department.15

What are the symptoms of COVID-19?

People with COVID-19 have had a wide range of symptoms reported, ranging from mild symptoms to severe illness. Symptoms may appear 2 to 14 days after exposure to the COVID-19 virus. Anyone can have mild to severe symptoms.

People with COVID-19 may have the following symptoms:

  • Fever or chills
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
  • Sleepiness
  • Muscle or body aches
  • Headache
  • New loss of taste or smell
  • Sore throat
  • Congestion or runny nose
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Diarrhea16

What to do if you test positive for COVID-19

  • Stay home, unless you feel too sick and need to go to the hospital
  • Get lots of rest and drink plenty of water
  • Call your doctor, health clinic, or local urgent care if you have any questions
  • If possible, stay in a private room as to avoid passing COVID-19 to family, friends, or roommates17

Citations

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