Thursday, April 15, 2021

Vaccine FAQs. Pt.1

This page uses the official term COVID-19 to refer to the disease caused by the 2019 novel coronavirus.

Many rumors related to COVID-19 circulating on social media are false or contain misinformation. People should be skeptical of rumors they hear on social media that aren’t being reported by reputable health organizations or mainstream media outlets and should not share or repost items unless they are able to confirm that they are true. False and inaccurate social media posts can cause a great deal of harm.

Source: State of

What is novel coronavirus, or COVID-19?

COVID-19 is a disease caused by a new strain of coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2), so people most likely have no immunity to it. It causes a respiratory illness ranging from mild flu-like symptoms to severe pneumonia.

The symptoms of COVID-19 are similar to what someone may get from a seasonal illness:

  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath
  • Muscle aches
  • Sore throat
  • A decrease in smell or taste 

Most people with COVID-19 will have mild to moderate symptoms. However, people of any age with certain underlying medical conditions are at increased risk for severe illness from COVID-19. 

There is currently no vaccine or antiviral treatment for COVID-19.

What does COVID-19 mean?

This is the official name for the disease caused by the 2019 novel coronavirus. The World Health Organization (WHO) renamed 2019-nCoV to COVID-19 using a combination of the words coronavirus (CO), virus (VI), and disease (D). The number “19” is for the year the outbreak was first identified. The name was chosen to avoid references to a specific geographical location, animal species, or group of people to prevent stigma.

How is the virus spread?

The virus is thought to spread mainly from person-to-person:

  • Between people who are in close contact with one another (within 6 feet).
  • By respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes.
  • These droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby or possibly be inhaled into the lungs.

Are there any specific medicines to prevent or treat COVID-19?
Currently, there are no specific medicines or vaccines for the new virus, and antibiotics do not work either (they fight off bacteria). Most people get better on their own. Scientists are working to develop a vaccine, but this will have to be tested in trials first, so it could be some time before it is ready. Scientists are also conducting studies to determine if medications already on the market could be effective in treating COVID-19. Treatment is only to manage symptoms, such as drinking lots of fluids, getting plenty of rest, etc. 

Who is most affected by COVID-19?
People of any age with the following conditions are at increased risk of severe illness from COVID-19: 

  • Cancer
  • Chronic kidney disease
  • COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease)
  • Immunocompromised (weakened immune system) from solid organ transplant
  • Obesity (body mass index [BMI] of 30 or higher)
  • Serious heart conditions, such as heart failure, coronary artery disease, or cardiomyopathies
  • Sickle cell disease
  • Type 2 diabetes

Based on what we know now, people with the following health conditions might be at increased risk for severe illness from COVID-19:

  • Asthma (moderate to severe)
  • Cerebrovascular disease (a disease which affects blood vessels and blood supply to the brain)
  • Cystic fibrosis
  • Immunocompromised state (weakened immune system) from blood or bone marrow transplant, immune deficiencies, HIV/ • AIDS, use of corticosteroids, or use of other immune weakening medicines
  • High blood pressure or hypertension
  • Liver disease
  • Neurologic conditions such as dementia
  • Pregnancy
  • Pulmonary fibrosis (having damaged or scarred lung tissues)
  • Thalassemia (a type of blood disorder)
  • Type 1 diabetes

Children who have special health care needs or are medically complex are also at higher risk for severe illness from COVID-19. These children may have neurologic, genetic, or metabolic health conditions or a congenital heart disease. 

Smoking may also increase the risk of severe illness from COVID-19. For more information on who may be at higher risk for severe illness from COVID-19 and what precautions these individuals should take, visit need-extra-precautions/people-with-medical-conditions.html

What is multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children?  

Multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children (MIS-C) is a condition where different body parts can become inflamed, including the heart, lungs, kidneys, brain, skin, eyes, or gastrointestinal organs. We do not yet know what causes MIS-C. However, we know that many children with MIS-C had the virus that causes COVID-19, or had been around someone with COVID-19. MIS-C can be serious, even deadly, but most children who were diagnosed with this condition have gotten better with medical care.

Contact your child’s doctor, nurse, or clinic right away if your child is showing symptoms of MIS-C. Seek emergency care right away if your child is showing any of these emergency warning signs of MIS-C or other concerning signs.

Does everyone with COVID-19 end up in the hospital?

No. People of any age with certain underlying medical conditions are at increased risk for severe illness from COVID-19 which may include hospitalization. 

Most people will be able to recover at home under the care of a healthcare provider. It’s not known what the long-term health effects of COVID-19 are. 

Is COVID-19 more dangerous than influenza (flu)?

COVID-19 is especially dangerous because we don’t have a vaccine to prevent it or treatment for it. COVID-19 appears to be more infectious than influenza.

Everyone should get an influenza vaccine (flu shot) when they become available this fall. 

Do you have immunity once you get COVID?

There is still a lot we don't know about COVID-19 including how much immunity a person will have after being infected with the virus. 

Will warm weather stop COVID-19?

COVID-19 is a new form of virus, so it is not yet known how temperature will affect transmission. COVID-19 has been spreading in areas of the world with warmer climates, but there is much to learn about the transmissibility of the disease.

Can COVID-19 be spread through water?

COVID-19 has not been detected in drinking water. Conventional water treatment methods should remove or inactivate the virus. There is also no evidence that COVID-19 can be spread to humans through the use of pools and hot tubs.

How long does COVID-19 survive on surfaces?

Studies show the virus that causes COVID-19 may last on surfaces for up to 72 hours depending on the surface. That's why it is so important to not touch your face, clean and disinfect surfaces and objects that are touched often (such as counters, tabletops, doorknobs, bathroom fixtures, toilets, phones, keyboards, tablets, and bedside tables), and wash your hands with soap and water or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.

There's a lot we still don't know, such as how different conditions, including exposure to sunlight, heat, or cold, can affect these survival times.

What cleaning agents work best to kill COVID-19?

Most common EPA-registered household disinfectants will work. For more information, visit

Can I get COVID-19 from pets or animals?

There have been a small number of pets (dogs and cats) which have been infected with the virus that causes COVID-19, mostly after close contact with someone who had COVID-19. Based on what we know right now, the risk of animals spreading COVID-19 to humans is considered low. 

For more information, visit

If I get a package from an area with coronavirus and open it, will I get COVID-19?

People receiving packages from areas with coronavirus are not at risk of contracting COVID-19. Coronaviruses do not survive long on objects, such as letters or packages. These viruses are generally thought to be spread most often by respiratory droplets, such as coughing and sneezing. There have not been any cases of COVID-19 in the U.S. associated with imported goods.

Can I get COVID-19 from food, including food from restaurants or take-out? 

There is no evidence to support transmission of COVID-19 associated with food. It may be possible that a person can get COVID-19 by touching a surface or object, like a packaging container, that has the virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose, or possibly their eyes, but this is not thought to be the main way the virus spreads.

In general, because of poor survivability of these coronaviruses on surfaces, there is likely very low risk of spread from food products or packaging.

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