Topical Questions

COVID-19 Vaccine Questions Answered By Experts

COVID-19 questions answered by experts. We continue to update the questions when new data sets are released and developments, as they come up to keep you up-to-date.

Myths and Facts about COVID-19 Vaccines 

Verified COVID-19 TOPICAL QUESTIONS

Influenza (flu) and COVID-19 are both contagious respiratory illnesses, but they are caused by different viruses. COVID-19 is caused by infection with a coronavirus first identified in 2019, and flu is caused by infection with influenza viruses.

COVID-19 seems to spread more easily than flu. However, as more people become fully vaccinated against COVID-19, the spread of the virus that causes COVID-19 should slow down. More information is available about COVID-19 vaccines and how well they work.

Compared to flu, COVID-19 can cause more serious illnesses in some people. COVID-19 can also take longer before people show symptoms and people can be contagious for longer. More information about the differences between flu and COVID-19 is available in the different sections below. (source: CDC)

 

Currently, CDC is recommending that moderately to severely immunocompromised people receive an additional dose. This 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

People should talk to their healthcare provider about their medical condition, and whether getting an additional dose is appropriate for them.

SOURCE: CDC

American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) recommends that pregnant individuals be vaccinated against COVID-19. 

Obstetrician–gynecologists and other obstetric care providers should routinely assess their pregnant patients’ vaccination status. Based on this assessment they should recommend needed vaccines to their pregnant patients. There is no evidence of adverse maternal or fetal effects from vaccinating pregnant individuals with COVID-19 vaccine, and a growing body of data demonstrate the safety of such use. Therefore, individuals who are or will be pregnant should receive the COVID-19 vaccine. 

While pregnant individuals are encouraged to discuss vaccination considerations with their clinical care team when feasible, written permission or documentation of such a discussion should not be required prior to receiving a COVID-19 vaccine.

For more information on vaccinating pregnant women against COVID-19 see ACOG’s Practice Advisory.

SOURCE: American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists

There is accumulating data demonstrating that antibodies are passed to the fetus when a pregnant person is vaccinated.

    • IgG antibodies after maternal vaccination in the third trimester have been shown in observational studies. However, no data is available to demonstrate if this prevents COVID-19 disease in neonates
    • No vaccines are currently available for infants or young children
SOURCE: American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists

CDC recommends everyone ages 5 and older get a COVID-19 vaccine to help protect against COVID-19. 

Widespread vaccination for COVID-19 is a critical tool to best protect everyone, especially those at highest risk, from severe illness and death. People who are fully vaccinated can safely resume many activities that they did prior to the pandemic. Children ages 5 years and older are able to get an age-appropriate dose of Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine. Learn more about what you and your child or teen can do when fully vaccinated.

SOURCE: CDC

  • The federal government is providing the COVID-19 vaccine free of charge to all people living in the United States, regardless of their immigration or health insurance status.
  • Check with your child’s healthcare provider about whether they offer COVID-19 vaccination.
  • Check your local pharmacy’s website to see if vaccination walk-ins or appointments are available for children.
  • Contact your state, territorial, local, or tribal health department for more information.

Find a COVID-19 vaccine: Search vaccines.gov, text your ZIP code to 438829, or call 1-800-232-0233 to find locations near you.

SOURCE: CDC

Your child may have some side effects, which are normal signs that their body is building protection.

These side effects may affect your child’s ability to do daily activities, but they should go away in a few days. Some people have no side effects and severe allergic reactions are rare. If your child experiences a severe allergic reaction after getting a COVID-19 vaccine, vaccine providers can rapidly provide care and call for emergency medical services, if needed.

Ask your child’s healthcare provider for advice on using a non-aspirin pain reliever and other steps you can take at home after your child gets vaccinated. In general, aspirin is not recommended for use in children and adolescents less than 18 years of age. Placing a cool, damp cloth on the injection site can help with discomfort.

Get Started with v-safe
Get started with v-safe, a free, easy-to-use, and confidential smartphone-based tool that uses text messaging and web surveys to provide personalized health check-ins after your child receives a COVID-19 vaccination. Through v-safe, you can report how your child is feeling after getting vaccinated. V-safe also reminds you when to get your child’s second dose. Learn more about v-safe and share this tool with other parents and caregivers to use after vaccination.

SOURCE: CDC

 
  • Adolescents ages 12 years and older receive the same dosage of Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine as adults.
  • The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine for children ages 5 through 11 years has the same active ingredients as the vaccine given to adults and adolescents. However, children ages 5 through 11 years cannot get the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine given to adults and adolescents. In addition, children ages 5 through 11 years receive an age-appropriate dose that is one-third of the adult dose of Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine. Smaller needles, designed specifically for children, are also used for children ages 5 through 11 years.
  • Unlike many medications, COVID-19 vaccine dosage does not vary by patient weight but by age on the day of vaccination.
  • Your child will need a second shot of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine three weeks after their first shot.

SOURCE: CDC

If a COVID-19 vaccine is inadvertently given within 14 days of another vaccine, you do not need to restart the COVID-19 vaccine series; you should still complete the series on schedule. When more data are available on the safety and effectiveness of COVID-19 vaccines administered simultaneously with other vaccines, CDC may update this recommendation.

SOURCE: CDC CDC COVID 19 FAQ.

Wearing a mask serves as another layer of protection against transmission of the SARS-CoV-2 Delta variant that now accounts for more than 80% of cases in the U.S. The CDC also is recommending that children, teachers and staffers in K–12 schools across the nation wear masks in the coming school year, regardless of COVID-19 vaccination status. This brings the agency’s recommendations in line with those of the American Academy of Pediatrics. Learn more about why the CDC is again turning to masks to help stop COVID-19.

SOURCE: American Medical Association (AMA)

Vaccinated people need to mask up again, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. On July 27, 2021, the CDC recommended that everyone in areas with high COVID-19 infection rates wear masks in public indoor spaces, regardless of vaccination status.

SOURCE: CDC

The risk of spreading SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, through ventilation systems is not clear at this time. Viral RNA has reportedly been found on return air grilles, in return air ducts, and on heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) filters, but detecting viral RNA alone does not imply that the virus was capable of transmitting disease. One research group reported that the use of a new air-sampling method allowed them to find viable viral particles within a COVID-19 patient’s hospital roomexternal icon with good ventilation, filtration and ultraviolet (UV) disinfection (at distances as far as 16 feet from the patient). However, the concentration of viable virus detected was believed to be too low to cause disease transmission. There may be some implications for HVAC systems associated with these findings, but it is too early to conclude that with certainty. While airflows within a particular space may help spread disease among people in that space, there is no definitive evidence to date that viable virus has been transmitted through an HVAC system to result in disease transmission to people in other spaces served by the same system.

  1. Healthcare facilities have ventilation requirements in place to help prevent and control infectious diseases that are associated with healthcare environments. For more information, see the CDC Guidelines for Environmental Infection Control in Health-Care Facilities.
  2. Non-healthcare (e.g., businesses and schools) building owners and managers should, at a minimum, maintain building ventilation systems according to state and local building codes and applicable guidelines. Ensuring appropriate outdoor air and ventilation rates is a practical step to ensure good indoor air quality.

SOURCE: CDC

No. While there are approved uses for ivermectin in people and animals, it is not approved for the prevention or treatment of COVID-19. You should not take any medicine to treat or prevent COVID-19 unless it has been prescribed to you by your health care provider and acquired from a legitimate source. 

A recently released research article described the effect of ivermectin on SARS-CoV-2 in a laboratory setting. These types of laboratory studies are commonly used at an early stage of drug development. Additional testing is needed to determine whether ivermectin might be appropriate to prevent or treat coronavirus or COVID-19. Read more about ivermectin.

SOURCE: FDA

Coronavirus and Covid-19 are not the same thing, but sometimes the terms can be used interchangeably.

This “novel coronavirus” is novel because it just emerged in humans in late 2019. There have been six other coronaviruses known to infect humans, such as SARS (circa 2003) and MERS (circa 2012).

“Coronaviruses are named for the crown-like spikes on their surface,” or coronas, the CDC says. The scientific name for this novel coronavirus is SARS-CoV-2, which stands for “severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2.”

Covid-19, however, is the disease caused by the novel coronavirus. The letters and numbers in “Covid-19” come from “Coronavirus disease 2019.”

SOURCE: CNN Top questions on Covid-19 and vaccines

Consistent with clinical guidance from the American Society of Transplantation, The Transplantation Society, and the Association of Organ Procurement Organizations, the OPTN does not recommend transplantation of organs from donors known to have the virus. This guidance may change as more becomes known about the course and treatment of COVID-19.

Donation and transplant clinicians should apply their medical judgment in instances where test results are pending at the time of organ offers.

SOURCE: Health Resources & Services Administration

Each transplant program must continue to weigh the risks and benefits of transplanting an individual candidate against other risks, including the potential for acquiring other illnesses. Each transplant program must also consider the staff and resources available to provide transplant services in addition to other healthcare services.

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) issued guidance (PDF – 25 KB) that identified organ transplants as Tier 3b procedures that should not be postponed. CMS also recommended (PDF – 587 KB) that hospitals continue to provide organ procurement organization (OPO) staff access to hospital facilities for deceased donor organ recovery.

SOURCE: Health Resources & Services Administration

Information that may be useful for patients, donors, and others in the blood stem transplantation community are on the National Marrow Donor Program (NMDP) Be the Match webpage, a HRSA contractor, entrusted to operate the C.W. Bill Young Cell Transplantation Program.

SOURCE: Health Resources & Services Administration

Verified COVID-19 DISPARITIES

We’ve largely built testing off our health care system, with all the inequities built into it. That’s one of the reasons we’re suggesting a call center that’s available to everyone. Even though this virus started in the United States with people returning from cruises or international travel, the populations at greatest risk are low-income minority communities with high rates of chronic illness and insecure housing and food. The initial attention to people who got coronavirus on cruises and international trips has distracted us from the urgency of providing not just testing, but also follow-up services—food, housing, and other supports—for vulnerable populations. It’s the right thing to do as a matter of justice, but it’s also absolutely critical for control of the disease.

SOURCE: Joshua Sharfstein How Health Disparities Are Shaping the Impact of COVID-19

It’s critically important that we have racial and ethnic diversity.

We know that COVID causes increased rates of severe disease in Latinx and Black populations and in Native American populations. We will certainly want to be able to offer these COVID vaccines to these high-risk populations and encourage their use. But we need to know how well these vaccines work in these populations—if different vaccines work differently—so that we can offer the most effective vaccines.

SOURCE: Ruth Karron A Top Vaccine Expert Answers Important Questions About a COVID-19 Vaccine

Before COVID-19, minority communities were already disproportionately impacted by health inequities. People in those communities already have higher rates of obesity, diabetes, heart disease, and lung disease, so these are the folks who were actually going to be at more risk of getting seriously ill with COVID-19. These health inequities result from the financial stresses of being poor and the social stresses of being from a marginalized group with a history of institutionalized, sanctioned mistreatment by law enforcement and other societal institutions.

There’s a confluence of all these different factors—not having access to food, not having access to good quality housing, being crowded in small houses where there are multiple generations and unable to engage in social distancing or stock up on groceries for several weeks at a time, having to use public transportation, to work in essential jobs, and having less access to health care. These are all manifestations of structural racism.

SOURCE: Lisa Cooper Racism and COVID-19

Keeping an eye on the data is an important priority: knowing who is impacted and where they’re impacted.

Communication is also really important—making sure that the public understands why we might be seeing these patterns, and that it’s more about our society and the way our resources and opportunities are allocated than it is about individual behaviors. We need to do what we can to better understand the challenges of those communities, engage with trusted leaders, listen with respect, and show empathy and concern. We need to recognize the remarkable contributions of African American communities and follow our words up with real actions that bring about positive change.

We also need to focus on frontline workers and low-wage workers, and understand their needs—providing protective equipment, safe spaces to work, paid sick leave, hazard pay, or health insurance and access to testing and care. And, we need to provide for people’s basic needs: stable housing, food security, and digital access to education and health care.

SOURCE: Lisa Cooper Racism and COVID-19

Verified COVID-19 Long Covid | Long haulers

Long COVID, or what doctors refer to as post-acute sequelae of COVID-19 (PASC), is a condition marked by the continuation of COVID-19 symptoms—or the emergence of new ones—after recovery from acute (or the initial phase of illness of) COVID-19. While there is not yet a formal definition of long COVID, it generally refers to the persistence of symptoms four weeks or longer after the onset of COVID-19.

SOURCE: Yale Medicine  

COVID-19 can affect the function of multiple organs in the body, including the lungs, heart, brain, kidneys, and liver. Because of this, long COVID is associated with a broad range of symptoms, including respiratory, neurological, cardiac, and psychological problems, among others.

Symptoms of long COVID may include:

  • Fatigue
  • Headache
  • Shortness of breath
  • Chest pain or discomfort
  • Cough
  • Persistent loss of smell and/or taste
  • Joint pain; muscle aches and pain/weakness
  • Sore throat
  • Memory loss
  • Brain fog (difficulty concentrating, sense of confusion or disorientation)
  • Dizziness
  • Low-grade, intermittent fever
  • Rapid or irregular heartbeat (palpitations)
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • Insomnia
  • Earache, hearing loss, and/or ringing in ears (tinnitus)
  • Rashes
  • Diarrhea, nausea, and/or abdominal pain
  • Diminished appetite
  • Hair loss

Some people may experience only one of these symptoms, while others may have two or more. Symptoms can vary greatly from one person to the next.

 

SOURCE: Yale Medicine  

For patients who have multiple symptoms, treatment may involve specialists in cardiology, pulmonology, neurology, psychiatry, rehabilitation, and/or other relevant fields of medicine.

Below, by symptom, are treatments and therapies that may help people with long COVID:

  • Fatigue. Patients may be taught strategies for “Pacing, Planning, Prioritizing, and Positioning” activities, sometimes known as the “4 Ps.” They may also be advised to undertake a physical exercise program that involves stretching, strengthening, and aerobic activities. If exercise worsens symptoms, the patient should stop or reduce the intensity and/or duration of the activity.
  • Respiratory symptoms. Treatment may involve breathing exercises, use of supplemental oxygen, and pulmonary rehabilitation, a medically guided program in which patients perform exercises and learn breathing techniques. Patients may need to use a pulse oximeter to monitor blood oxygen saturation levels. (If blood oxygen saturation levels fall below 92%, they should seek medical attention.) If respiratory symptoms do not improve, patients may be referred to a pulmonologist.
  • Cardiac symptoms. Patients with cardiac symptoms may be referred to a cardiovascular specialist for cardiac symptoms, such as rapid heart rate or chest pain. Treatment may involve cardiac rehabilitation. Medications may also be used to control specific symptoms.
  • Neurological symptoms. If patients have cognitive symptoms such as memory loss and/or brain fog, doctors may recommend exercise and to remain physically active. For patients with memory impairment, treatment might involve memory exercises and the use of memory aids such as calendars and planners. Patients may be referred to a neurologist.
  • Psychological symptoms. Treatment commonly involves counseling, support groups, and medications to manage depression, anxiety, or other conditions.
  • Smell and taste symptoms. Patients who have reduced or lost sense of smell and/or taste, doctors may prescribe topical (drops or sprays) corticosteroids to reduce inflammation in the nose. They may also perform olfactory training, a therapy in which patients regularly sniff various odors for a set period (usually several weeks) with the aim of restoring sense of smell. If symptoms do not resolve, patients may be referred to an ear, nose, and throat (ENT) specialist.

Patients who have symptoms related to kidney, liver, or endocrine function—as well as those related to dermatology and gastrointestinal issues, treatment are usually referred to the appropriate specialist.

SOURCE: Yale Medicine  

Currently, the data is being collected. There are two sources you can refer to:

  1. New England Journal of Medicine study details breakthrough COVID-19 infections in 39 of 1,497 fully vaccinated Israeli healthcare workers, with most cases mild or moderate but 19% with symptoms lingering for more than 6 weeks. A team led by Tel Aviv University researchers used diagnostic testing, antibody assays, genomic sequencing, and contact tracing to evaluate healthcare workers who were symptomatic or had been exposed to an infected person.
  2. Preprint server medRxiv on July 26, compiled the results of a poll conducted by the Survivor Corps, a grassroots COVID-19 organization focused on patient support and research, founded by Diana Berrent. The poll posted to its 169,900 members on the Survivor Corps social media group page (Facebook) asked about breakthrough cases, Long Covid, and hospitalizations. The poll surveyed 1,949 respondents, 44 reported having a symptomatic COVID-19 infection after getting vaccinated. Of that group, 24 reported  symptoms of long COVID. One person said that their infection led to long COVID and hospitalization.

SOURCE: New England Journal of Medicine, Survivor Corps

Monoclonal antibodies for COVID-19 may block the virus that causes COVID-19 from attaching to human cells, making it more difficult for the virus to reproduce and cause harm. Monoclonal antibodies may also neutralize a virus.

SOURCE: FDA COVID-19-Frequently-Asked-Questions

UK Office of National Statistics (ONS) has done a study by following more than 20,000 people who have tested positive since April 2020. In its most recent analyses ONS COVID Study, published on 1 April, the ONS found that 13.7% still reported symptoms after at least 12 weeks (there is no widely agreed definition of long COVID, but the ONS considers it to be COVID-19 symptoms that last more than 4 weeks). In other words, more than one in 10 people who became infected with SARS-CoV-2 have gone on to get long COVID. If the UK prevalence is applicable elsewhere, that’s more than 16 million people worldwide. 

SOURCE: UK Office of National Statistics (ONS)

In December 2020, Congress approved $1.15 billion in funding over four years for NIH to support research into Long COVID and other longer term health effects of COVID-19. In February 2021, NIH launched a new program to identify the risk factors and causes of Long COVID in order to help understand how it can be prevented or treated in the future.

A team of Yale School of Medicine researchers have launched a study to determine the effect of vaccination on people with persistent symptoms months after SARS-CoV-2 infection, which has been termed “Long COVID.” The study is led by Yale faculty members Akiko Iwasaki, Aaron Ring, Wade Schulz, Charles Dela Cruz, Erica Spatz, and Harlan Krumholz.

SOURCE: National Institutes of Health, Yale School of Medicine

verified COVID-19 BASICs

No. Antibiotics do not work against viruses; they only work on bacterial infections. Antibiotics do not prevent or treat COVID-19, because COVID-19 is caused by a virus, not bacteria. Some patients with COVID-19 may also develop a bacterial infection, such as pneumonia. In that case, a health care professional may treat the bacterial infection with an antibiotic.

SOURCE: FDA COVID-19-Frequently-Asked-Questions

There is evidence that under certain conditions, people with COVID-19 seem to have infected others who were more than 6 feet away. This is called airborne transmission. These transmissions occurred within enclosed spaces that had inadequate ventilation. Available data indicate that it is much more common for the virus that causes COVID-19 to spread through close contact with a person who has COVID-19 than through airborne transmission.

Respiratory droplets can also land on surfaces and objects. It is possible that a person could get COVID-19 by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose, or eyes. Spread from touching surfaces is not thought to be a common way that COVID-19 spreads

SOURCE: CDC

The onset and duration of viral shedding and the period of infectiousness for COVID-19 are not yet known with certainty. Based on current evidence, scientists believe that persons with mild to moderate COVID-19 may shed replication-competent SARS-CoV-2 for up to 10 days following symptom onset, while a small fraction of persons with severe COVID-19, including immunocompromised persons, may shed replication-competent virus for up to 20 days. It is possible that SARS-CoV-2 RNA may be detectable in the upper or lower respiratory tract for weeks after illness onset, similar to infections with MERS-CoV and SARS-CoV. However, detection of viral RNA does not necessarily mean that infectious virus is present. Based on existing literature, the incubation period (the time from exposure to development of symptoms) of SARS-CoV-2 and other coronaviruses (e.g.,MERS-CoV, SARS-CoV) ranges from 2–14 days.
 
SOURCE: CDC

Currently, the best marker that we have of protection from future disease is the level of neutralising antibody* in the blood. This is the component of the antibody* repertoire that can stop viral entry into cells. While a decline in neutralising antibody* is seen, it can persist in individuals for at least 8 months, and possibly longer, after infection. B* and T* lymphocytes* recognising SARS-CoV-2 can also be seen after 8 months, and T cells* capable of mounting robust responses have been detected after 6 months. As SARS-CoV-2 has only been around for a year, ongoing research is required over the coming months and years to fully understand how long immunity lasts after infection.          

SOURCE: British Society for Immunology COVID-19 and Immunity

Yes. A lab study suggests that as many as 50% of people who have the disease show no symptoms and are still able to spread the disease.

SOURCE: Dr Gigi Gronvall Asymptomatic spread makes COVID-19 tough to contain

We’re still trying to understand how asymptomatic transmission happens and the extent to which it happens.

A few ways that we think that the virus spreads: if people are talking to each other from relatively short distances, it’s possible for someone who is infected and doesn’t yet have symptoms to put some virus out there that someone who is standing close by could be exposed to. We also know that some outbreaks have occurred in settings where people are singing. The more you force air out of your mouth, the greater possibility of carrying virus with it.

Transmission has also occurred in very close quarters, like between husbands and wives or roommates. We don’t know exactly how that transmission occurred, but you can imagine any number of ways: if people are touching their mouths and then touching surfaces or something along those lines.

There’s a lot of work that still needs to be done to understand the extent to which asymptomatic transmission happens and how exactly it does.

SOURCE: Dr Jennifer Nuzzo Biography of Jennifer Nuzzo with the Center for Health Security

You can be around others after:

  • 10 days since symptoms first appeared AND
  • 24 hours with no fever without the use of fever-reducing medications AND
  • Other symptoms of COVID-19 are improving*

* Loss of taste and smell may persist for weeks or months after recover and need not delay the end of isolation.

SOURCE: CDC When You Can be Around Others After You Had or Likely Had COVID-19

verified COVID-19 COMMON MISUNDERSTANDINGS

There are no vitamins or supplements known to help prevent coronavirus, including COVID-19. Certain nutrients may help your immune system strong and help its ability to fight the virus These include vitamin D, high-dose vitamin C, zinc and potassium if you’re deficient. Eat a diet rich in vegetables, fruit and lean protein. Probiotics may also help. You can get these in yogurt and fermented foods, like kimchi and sauerkraut. Regular exercise and stress management techniques, such as deep breathing exercises or meditation, also help prime your immune system to fight off infections.

SOURCE: Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and WebMD

Reviewed by Michael W. Smith on October 14, 2020

No, mRNA isn’t the same as DNA, and it can’t combine with our DNA  to change our genetic code. It is also relatively fragile, and will only hang around inside a cell for about 72 hours, before being degraded.

SOURCE: Gavi- the Vaccine Alliance Will an mRNA vaccine alter my DNA?

Yes. Due to the severe health risks associated with COVID-19 and the fact that reinfection with COVID-19 is possible, you should be vaccinated regardless of whether you already had a COVID-19 infection. If you were treated for COVID-19 symptoms with monoclonal antibodies or convalescent plasma, you should wait 90 days before getting a COVID-19 vaccine. Talk to your doctor if you are unsure what treatments you received or if you have more questions about getting a COVID-19 vaccine.

Experts do not yet know how long someone is protected from getting sick again after recovering from COVID-19. The immunity someone gains from having an infection, called “natural immunity,” varies from person to person.  It is rare for someone who has had COVID-19 to get infected again. It also is uncommon for people who do get COVID-19 again to get it within 90 days of when they recovered from their first infection.  We won’t know how long immunity produced by a vaccination lasts until we have more data on how well the vaccines work.

SOURCE: CDC CDC COVID 19 FAQ.

Yes. Not enough information is currently available to say if or when CDC will stop recommending that people wear masks and avoid close contact with others to help prevent the spread of the virus that causes COVID-19.

Experts need to understand more about the protection that COVID-19 vaccines provide in real-world conditions before making that decision. Other factors, including how many people get vaccinated and how the virus is spreading in communities, will also affect this decision. We also don’t yet know whether getting a COVID-19 vaccine will prevent you from spreading the virus that causes COVID-19 to other people, even if you don’t get sick yourself. CDC will continue to update this page as we learn more.

While experts learn more about the protection that COVID-19 vaccines provide under real-life conditions, it will be important for everyone to continue using all the tools available to help stop this pandemic.

To protect yourself and others, follow these recommendations:

  • Wear a mask over your nose and mouth
  • Stay at least 6 feet away from others
  • Avoid crowds
  • Avoid poorly ventilated spaces
  • Wash your hands often

SOURCE: CDC CDC COVID 19 FAQ.

verified REOPENING

Updates from August 4, 2021

  • Updated to recommend universal indoor masking for all students, staff, teachers, and visitors to K-12 schools, regardless of vaccination status.
  • Added recommendation for fully vaccinated people who have a known exposure to someone with suspected or confirmed COVID-19 to be tested 3-5 days after exposure, regardless of whether they have symptoms.

SOURCE: CDC

I don’t think things will be completely back to normal until we have a vaccine, especially for things like mass gatherings. There is a cost to keeping everything closed down—and not just an economic cost, but peoples’ health. There is a psychological impact of being locked up and not being able to live your life that really has to be measured.

Everybody wants to get back to normal, but it’s going to take a little bit of time and it has to be done in a really measured and mindful way.Everybody wants to get back to normal, but it’s going to take a little bit of time and it has to be done in a really measured and mindful way. 

SOURCE: Dr Amesh Adalja and National Coronavirus Response: A Roadmap to Reopening

The biggest factor determining risk in schools is what the virus is doing outside of them. In places where you have a very high test positivity, like well into the double digits, that suggests that the outbreak is very widespread and that testing isn’t keeping up.

Regardless of whether schools open online, in person, or with a hybrid approach, there will be learning disruptions to consider. COVID-19 is exacerbating growing inequities around achievement, development, and graduation rates.

Schools can also expect a year of uncertainty and should think about plans for positive cases among students, faculty, and staff, or spikes in community transmission. Teachers and parents will need to help children manage distress caused by uncertainty, distance learning, and fear, and school leaders and educators will need to plan for different scenarios.

SOURCE: Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health

verified COVID-19 BUSINESS PLACE

Employees who have symptoms when they arrive at work or become sick during the day should immediately be separated from other employees, customers, and visitors and sent home. Employees who develop symptoms outside of work should notify their supervisor and stay home.

Sick employees should follow CDC-recommended steps to help prevent the spread of COVID-19. Employees should not return to work until they have met the criteria to discontinue home isolation and have consulted with a healthcare provider.

Employers should not require sick employees to provide a COVID-19 test result or healthcare provider’s note to validate their illness, qualify for sick leave, or return to work. Healthcare provider offices and medical facilities may be extremely busy and not able to provide such documentation in a timely manner.

SOURCE: CDC

CDC does NOT recommend that employers use antibody tests to determine which employees can work. Antibody tests check a blood sample for past infection with SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. CDC does not yet know if people who recover from COVID-19 can get infected againViral tests check a respiratory sample (such as swabs of the inside of the nose) for current infection with SARS-CoV-2.

CDC has published strategies for consideration of incorporating viral testing for SARS-CoV-2 into a workplace COVID-19 preparedness, response, and control plan.

Different states and jurisdictions may have their own guidance and priorities for viral testing in workplaces. Testing in the workplace could be arranged through a company’s occupational health provider or in consultation with the local or state health department.

SOURCE: CDC

Have conversations with employees if they express concerns. Some people may be at higher risk of severe illness. This includes older adults (65 years and older) and people of any age with serious underlying medical conditions. By using strategies that help prevent the spread of COVID-19 in the workplace, you will help protect all employees, including those at higher risk. These strategies include:

  • Implementing telework and other social distancing practices
  • Actively encouraging employees to stay home when sick
  • Providing sick leave
  • Promoting handwashing
  • Providing supplies and appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) for cleaning and disinfecting workspaces
  • Requiring all employees to wear cloth face coverings

In workplaces where it is not possible to eliminate face-to-face contact (such as retail), consider assigning employees who are at higher risk of severe illness work tasks that allow them to maintain a 6-foot distance from others, if feasible.

Employers should not require employees to provide a note from their healthcare provider when they are sick and instead allow them to inform their supervisors or employee health services when they have conditions that put them at higher risk for diseases.

Employers that do not currently offer sick leave to some or all of their employees may want to draft non-punitive “emergency sick leave” policies. Ensure that sick leave policies are flexible and consistent with public health guidance and that employees are aware of and understand these policies.

The Families First Coronavirus Response Actexternal icon (FFCRA or Act) requires certain employers to provide their employees with paid sick leave or expanded family and medical leave for specified reasons related to COVID-19. Employers with fewer than 500 employees are eligible for 100% tax credits for Families First Coronavirus ​Response Act COVID-19 paid leave provided through December 31, 2020, up to certain limits.

SOURCE: CDC

There are 16 critical infrastructure sectors whose assets, systems, and networks, whether physical or virtual, are considered so vital to the United States that their incapacitation or destruction would have a debilitating effect on security, national economic security, national public health or safety, or any combination thereof. Presidential Policy Directive 21 (PPD-21): PPD-21 identifies 16 critical infrastructure sectors.

Chemical Sector

Commercial Facilities Sector

Communications Sector

Critical Manufacturing Sector

Dams Sector

Defense Industrial Base Sector

Emergency Services Sector

Energy Sector

Financial Services Sector

Food and Agriculture Sector

Government Facilities Sector

Healthcare and Public Health Sector

Information Technology Sector

Nuclear Reactors, Materials, and Waste Sector

Transportation Systems Sector

Water and Wastewater Systems Sector

SOURCE: The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) 

COVID-19 Vaccines Are Not Mandated Under Emergency Use Authorizations (EUAs)

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not mandate vaccination. However, whether a state, local government, or employer, for example, may require or mandate COVID-19 vaccination is a matter of state or other applicable law.

SOURCE: CDC

Two types of exemptions can be implemented:

  • Medical exemptions
    Some people may be at risk for an adverse reaction because of an allergy to one of the vaccine components or a medical condition. This is referred to as a medical exemption.
  • Religious exemptions
    Some people may decline vaccination because of a religious belief. This is referred to as a religious exemption.

Employers offering vaccination to workers should keep a record of the offer to vaccinate and the employee’s decision to accept or decline vaccination.

SOURCE: CDC

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) provides guidance on mandatory vaccination against H1N1 influenza. The EEOC guidance may be applicable to COVID-19 vaccination, which became available in December 2020. Learn more about EEOC’s Pandemic Preparedness in the Workplace and the Americans with Disabilities Actexternal icon.

For employers covered by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), “…an employee may be entitled to an exemption based on an ADA disability that prevents him from taking the influenza vaccine.”

For employers covered under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, “once an employer receives notice that an employee’s sincerely held religious belief, practice, or observance prevents him from taking the influenza vaccine, the employer must provide a reasonable accommodation unless it would pose an undue hardship.”

See question 13 in the Pandemic Preparedness in the Workplace and the Americans with Disabilities Actexternal icon 

SOURCE: Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC)

COVID-19 WORKPLACE

COVID-19 Vaccines Are Not Mandated Under Emergency Use Authorizations (EUAs)

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not mandate vaccination. However, whether a state, local government, or employer, for example, may require or mandate COVID-19 vaccination is a matter of state or other applicable law.

However, once the vaccines are approved by the FDA mandates by employers is legal. 

Private companies have been increasingly mandating vaccines for employees. Such mandates are legally allowed and have been upheld in court challenges.  Legal base: U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has stated that it is legal under federal law for companies to require their workers to get the COVID-19 vaccine, with a few exceptions related to other health complications, pregnancy, religious beliefs and other reasonable accommodations.

SOURCE: CDC, FDA, Equal Employment Opportunity Commission

Nothing in a liability waiver prevents or precludes an employee’s right to file a complaint under the Occupational Safety and Health Act. The worker continues to have the right to file a safety or health complaint under section 8(f) and/or a retaliation complaint under section 11(c), regardless of any language contained in the waiver.

SOURCE: Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA)  COVID-19 – Frequently Asked Questions

See the Guidance on Returning to Work, which was developed to help employers and workers return to work safely and reopen workplaces that were previously closed because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Employers can use the guidance to develop policies and procedures to ensure the safety and health of their employees.

OSHA’s COVID-19 Safety and Health Topics page also provides information for workers and employers that can be adapted to better suit evolving risk levels and necessary control measures in workplaces as states or regions satisfy the gating criteria to progress through the phases of the White House Guidelines for Opening up America Again.

SOURCE: Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) COVID-19 – Frequently Asked Question

verified COVID-19 CONSUMER SAFETY

The Food & Drug Administration (FDA) has established a cross-agency team dedicated to closely monitoring for fraudulent COVID-19 products. In response to internet scammers, the FDA has taken – and continues to take – actions to stop those selling unapproved products that fraudulently claim to prevent, treat, diagnose or cure COVID-19. The FDA and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) issue warning letters to companies and individuals that are unlawfully selling unapproved products with fraudulent COVID-19 claims. The FDA also has taken enforcement action against certain sellers that continued to illegally market products for the prevention or treatment of COVID-19. 

SOURCE: FDA

Report a website that you think is illegally selling human drugs, animal drugs, medical devices, biological products, foods, dietary supplements or cosmetics.

Report Unlawful Sales  | En Español

SOURCE: FDA

English

Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) Frequently Asked Questions

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Preguntas frecuentes sobre la Enfermedad del Coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19)

SOURCE: FDA