Over-the-counter (OTC) COVID-19 test kits
Symptoms of COVID-19
According to the CDC, symptoms of COVID-19 can range from mild to severe and may appear 2-14 days after being exposed to the virus. Symptoms seen with the infection with COVID-19 are not specific, with symptoms ranging from cold-like symptoms in mild cases to severe illness and death.
Tips on preventing COVID-19:
• Wash your hands
• Avoid handshakes
• Avoid public gatherings
• Stay away from those who are sick
What are the risks of contracting COVID-19? What are the risks of not vaccinating?COVID-19 is a highly contagious respiratory virus that has infected millions of people and caused millions of deaths according to the World Health Organization and United States-specific information, according to the CDC.
Older adults and people who have severe underlying medical conditions like heart or lung disease or diabetes seem to be at higher risk for developing more serious complications from COVID-19 illness. Severe illness from COVID-19 is defined as hospitalization, admission to the ICU, intubation or mechanical ventilation, or death. There have also been increasing reports of long-term complications of COVID-19 including brain fog, difficulty breathing, extreme fatigue and depression.
The sooner one is vaccinated, the sooner one can develop immunity to the virus. Safety measures you can practice to slow the spread of COVID-19 include wearing a mask, social distancing, diligent handwashing and receiving the COVID-19 vaccination.
How do COVID-19 vaccines work?
According to the CDC, COVID-19 vaccines help our bodies produce antibodies and develop immunity to the virus that causes COVID-19 without us having to get the illness. Additionally, the vaccine causes the body to produce “memory” lymphocytes that will remember how to fight that virus in the future.
It typically takes a few weeks for the body to produce antibodies and immunity after vaccination. Therefore, it is possible that a person could be infected with the virus that causes COVID-19 just before or just after vaccination and then get sick because the vaccine did not have enough time to provide protection.
Two of the vaccines approved for Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) by the FDA that use the same novel mRNA technology (Pfizer and Moderna), inject small pieces of genetic material that the body's cells use to produce a protein similar to the coronavirus. In response to this protein, the body then creates antibodies that are primed to fight off the virus.
The vaccine developed by Janssen (Johnson & Johnson) that was approved for Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) is a viral vector vaccine that uses a weakened version of a different virus to teach our cells to make a protein that triggers an immune response inside our bodies. That immune response, which produces antibodies, is what protects us from getting infected if the real virus enters our bodies. The vaccine will not cause an infection of either COVID-19 or the virus that is used as the vector. Vaccines of this type have been well-studied in clinical trials and have been used to respond to recent Ebola outbreaks.
Sometimes after vaccination, the process of producing antibodies and building immunity can cause symptoms, such as fever. These symptoms are normal and are a sign that the body is building immunity.
Do patients have to pay for the COVID-19 vaccine?According to the CDC, COVID-19 vaccines will be given at no cost to patients. However, vaccination providers can charge an administration fee for administering the vaccine. This fee is reimbursed by the patient’s public or private insurance company or, for uninsured patients, it is paid by the Health Resources and Services Administration’s Provider Relief Fund. There is no out of pocket cost for vaccine recipients.
Does the flu vaccine cover COVID-19 too?No. The flu vaccine is important to protect you from influenza, particularly during the current coronavirus pandemic, but it does not vaccinate you for COVID-19. Receiving both a flu vaccine and COVID-19 vaccine are important to stay healthy. The flu vaccine is important to protect you from influenza, particularly during the current coronavirus pandemic, but it does not vaccinate you for COVID-19. Receiving the COVID-19 vaccine will help protect you and prevent the spread of the coronavirus.
What are the benefits of getting a COVID-19 vaccination?
According to the CDC:
• Vaccination will make it less likely for you to get COVID-19
• Vaccination will be a safer way to help build protection through community immunity
• Vaccination will be an important tool to help stop the pandemic
How many doses of the vaccine will I need? Do they need to be from the same manufacturer?
According to the CDC, all but one of the COVID-19 vaccines currently in Phase 3 clinical trials in the United States need two shots to be effective. For vaccines that require two doses, both doses must be from the same manufacturer.
The Pfizer BioNTech BNT162b2 vaccine requires 2 doses, 21 days apart. Doses administered at or after day 17 are considered valid.
The Moderna mRNA-1273 vaccine requires 2 doses, 28 days apart. Doses administered at or after day 24 are considered.
The Janssen (Johnson and Johnson) vaccine requires 1 dose.
Both doses of the vaccine need to be from the same manufacturer. You will receive patient fact sheets that will note which vaccine you received. We encourage you to communicate with your provider about the vaccine you received both when you schedule and when you receive your second dose. When you receive your first dose, you should receive documentation noting which vaccine you received. Keep that document and bring it with you for your second dose (if needed).
If I tested positive and have recovered from COVID-19, do I still need the vaccination?
Data from clinical trials indicate that COVID-19 vaccines are safe in persons with evidence of a prior SARS-CoV-2 infection. Vaccination should be offered to persons regardless of history of prior symptomatic or asymptomatic SARS-CoV-2 infection. Viral testing to assess for acute SARS-CoV-2 infection or serologic testing to assess for prior infection solely for the purposes of vaccine decision-making is not recommended.
Vaccination of persons with known current SARS-CoV-2 infection should be deferred until the person has recovered from the acute illness (if the person had symptoms) and criteria have been met for them to discontinue isolation. This recommendation applies to persons who develop SARS-CoV-2 infection before receiving any vaccine doses as well as those who develop SARS-CoV-2 infection after the first dose but before receipt of the second dose. While there is otherwise no recommended minimum interval between infection and vaccination, current evidence suggests that reinfection is uncommon in the 90 days after initial infection. Thus, persons with documented acute SARS-CoV-2 infection in the preceding 90 days may delay vaccination until near the end of this period, if desired.
What are the risks of the vaccine?The FDA’s rigorous testing helps ensure that vaccines are safe and highly effective. However, all medications, including vaccines, carry a small risk of side effects. Most common side effects are identified in clinical trials before the vaccine is approved, but less-common side effects may not be detected until the medicines or vaccines are more widely available. That’s why vaccines are continuously, carefully monitored for possible side effects even after they are licensed.
After receiving the vaccine, what side effects could I experience? Is it true that more side effects can be experienced after the second dose?
COVID-19 vaccine recipients can expect to experience symptoms such as pain, swelling, reddening at the injection site, swelling in lymph nodes on the same side as the vaccinated arm, fever, fatigue, headache, chills, and muscle/joint pain after vaccination. Depending on vaccine product, age group, and vaccine dose, approximately 80–89% of vaccinated persons develop at least one symptom around the injection site and 55–83% develop at symptoms like fever, fatigue, headache, chills, and muscle/joint pain following vaccination.
Symptoms like fever, fatigue, headache, chills, and muscle/joint pain are typically mild to moderate in severity, occur within the first three days of vaccination, and resolve within 1–3 days of onset. For two dose vaccinations, these symptoms are more frequent and severe following the second dose and among younger persons (less than 55 years old) compared to older persons (greater than 65 years old) and the intensity of side effects after the second dose tends to be more common as your body develops greater immunity to COVID-19. Unless persons experience severe allergic reactions to vaccination, they should be encouraged to complete the series even if they develop symptoms following the first dose to increase protection against COVID-19.
When will a COVID-19 vaccine be available for children?
Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine has been granted emergency use authorization (EUA) approval by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for adolescents ages 5-15 years, after the vaccine was shown to have an efficacy of 100% in this age range and generally well tolerated, as it has been seen in teenagers and adults. The vaccine previously was authorized for people ages 16 and older.
Several vaccine manufacturers also are conducting trials in younger children, beginning at age 6 months. Speak to your child’s pediatrician to confirm when your child could receive a vaccine.
Is the COVID-19 vaccine safe for my child?
• To date, Pfizer-BioNTech has started testing its COVID-19 vaccine in children younger than 12 and completed a study in 12-15 year olds. The FDA has granted an extension for the 12-15 year old age group for its EUA for vaccination indications that was approved in December 2020.
• Clinical trials showed the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine was 100% effective and presented no serious safety concerns in adolescents (12-15 years of age), leading the FDA to grant the EUA.
• Pfizer and BioNTech conducted clinical trials in 2,260 adolescents with half randomized to receive the vaccine (2 doses, 3 weeks apart) and half to receive a placebo. Participants were followed for two months.
• Among 1,005 vaccine recipients, there were no cases of COVID-19, and 16 cases reported among 978 placebo recipients. An immunogenicity analysis in 190 participants also showed the immune response for 12-15 year olds was just as favorable as the response for those ages 16-25 years.
Are there concerns about fertility after receiving the COVID-19 vaccine?There is currently no evidence that any vaccines, including COVID-19 vaccines, cause fertility problems or problems trying to get pregnant. The CDC does not recommend routine pregnancy testing before COVID-19 vaccination. As with all vaccines, scientists continue to carefully study COVID-19 vaccines for side effects and will report findings as they become available.
How do I know the COVID-19 vaccine is safe?
All vaccines require extensive research, documentation and closely monitored clinical trials to determine effectiveness and safety before being submitted by pharmaceutical companies for approval. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is responsible for ensuring the safety, effectiveness and availability of vaccines in the United States. The FDA requires extensive testing by manufacturers before making vaccines available to the public to protect safety and identify any potential side effects.
If the FDA determines that a vaccine meets its safety and effectiveness standards, it can make these vaccines available for use in the United States by approval or Emergency Use Authorization (EUA).
Where can I find additional information about COVID-19?