Frequently Asked Questions
What is COVID-19?
COVID-19, or coronavirus disease 2019, is an upper respiratory tract disease. Symptoms include fever, cough and shortness of breath. The infection can range from very mild to full-blown pneumonia, with 80% of cases appearing to be mild. Symptoms may appear 2–14 days after exposure to the virus.
When should I be tested?
You should consider being tested if you are experiencing any of the following symptoms, or if you have had a known exposure as asymptomatic cases are on the rise:
- Fever or chills
- Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
- Muscle or body aches
- New loss of taste or smell
- Sore throat
- Congestion or runny nose
- Nausea or vomiting
If you are experiencing symptoms, it is recommended that you self-quarantine for 14 days or until you have received a negative test result. Quarantining and symptom monitoring should also be considered if you have traveled abroad.
What warrants emergency medical attention versus a visit to a testing site?
If you or someone in your household is experiencing any of the following, seek emergency medical care by calling 911 or your local emergency facility. Notify the operator that you need care for someone who has or may have COVID-19 so they can prepare accordingly:
- Trouble breathing
- Persistent pain or pressure in the chest
- New confusion
- Inability to wake or stay awake
- Bluish lips or face
This list may not be all-inclusive. Please call a medical provider for any other severe or concerning symptoms. Older adults, immunocompromised individuals, and those with pre-existing medical conditions (e.g., diabetes, immunocompromised people, lung/heart/liver/kidney disease, neurological disorders, etc.) are most at risk for developing serious complications.
Why should I schedule an appointment versus drop in?
Scheduling an appointment offers two advantages:
- You are guaranteed a time slot if location traffic is high
- You can complete the registration process in advance of your appointment, meaning less time on site
How soon can I expect results?
We list all our locations in order of the shortest anticipated time to results, from the moment you connect with a provider. While not guaranteed, we take into account appointment availability, pre-screening requirements, and test administration and processing times to help calculate the most accurate window. Once your test has been administered, we work to get you your results as soon as possible, most within 24-48 hours.
What should I expect during the test?
To administer a COVID-19 test, we insert a swab into the patient’s nasal passage. The procedure takes just a few seconds.
What will the process be when I get to my testing location?
When you request an appointment, the provider you’ve chosen will give detailed information regarding what to expect when you arrive.
Is it safe to visit a testing location?
All clinical staff are undergoing daily health screenings and temperature checks and wear protective equipment while on site. Anyone experiencing symptoms will be sent home. Additionally, the various locations have protocols in place to ensure social distancing is practiced.
Do I need to have insurance?
We accept any patient who needs a COVID test, regardless of if you have insurance. All of our COVID tests are offered at no out-of-pocket costs for most patients.
Who will get the vaccine first? How will the vaccine be distributed?
Please visit the State of Ohio COVID website for the most updated information about vaccine distribution plans and updates. At first, there will be a limited supply of COVID-19 vaccine, with a phased approach to offering the vaccines. Those who are at highest risk of contracting and transmitting the virus will be among the first to be vaccinated.
Ohio is committed to making it widely available for those that want to receive it, as quickly as possible, as shipments of vaccine arrive. Ohio has identified who will be among the first to receive those very early shipments in Phase 1A, should they choose to be vaccinated, listed below.
- Healthcare workers and personnel who are routinely involved in the care of COVID-19 patients.
- Residents and staff in nursing homes.
- Residents and staff in assisted living facilities.
- Patients and staff at state psychiatric hospitals.
- People with developmental disabilities and those with mental health disorders, including substance use disorders, who live in group homes, residential facilities, or centers, and staff at those locations.
- Residents and staff at our two state-run homes for Ohio veterans.
- EMS responders.
The goals of Phase 1B are to save lives and to have students back in school full-time by March 1. This phase will specifically include:
- Ohioans, age 65 and up.
- Ohioans with severe congenital, developmental, or early onset medical disorders that make them particularly vulnerable. This includes cerebral palsy; spina bifida; congenital heart disease; type 1 diabetes; inherited metabolic disorders; severe neurological disorders. including epilepsy; severe genetic disorders, including Down syndrome, fragile X syndrome, Prader-Willi syndrome, and Turner syndrome; severe lung disease, including cystic fibrosis and severe asthma; sickle cell anemia; and alpha and beta thalassemia.
- Adults/employees in all schools that want to go back, or to remain, educating in person.
The vaccine distribution plan for future priority populations are still under development and will be shared publicly as soon as they are finalized. As more information becomes available on who can receive the vaccine, and when they can receive the vaccine, we will communicate this information publicly through the news media and share information at coronavirus.ohio.gov/vaccine.
How does the COVID vaccine work? Can I get COVID from the vaccine?
The mRNA from COVID-19 vaccines can most easily be described as a set of instructions for your body on how to make a harmless piece of “spike protein” to allow our immune systems to recognize that this protein doesn’t belong there and begin building an immune response and making antibodies. Essentially, COVID-19 vaccines that use mRNA work with the body’s natural defenses to safely develop immunity to the virus, giving your cells a blueprint of how to make antibodies.
None of the COVID-19 vaccines currently available in the United States use a live virus that causes COVID-19. The Pfizer- BioNTech and Moderna vaccines are messenger ribonucleic acid, or mRNA, vaccines. The goal of these COVID-19 vaccines is to teach our immune systems how to recognize and fight the virus that causes COVID-19. Sometimes this process can cause side effects, such as fatigue, headache, soreness or redness at the injection site, and muscle or joint pain. These symptoms are normal and are a sign that the body is building immunity. It typically takes a few weeks for the body to build immunity after vaccination, and some vaccines require two doses. That means it is possible that a person could be infected with the virus that causes COVID-19 just before, or just after, getting the vaccination and become sick, since it takes the vaccine time to provide protection.
Will the vaccine be safe?
Yes. the vaccines are being held to the same rigorous safety and effectiveness standards as all other types of vaccines in the United States. The only COVID-19 vaccines the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) will make available for use in the United States (by approval or emergency use authorization) are those that meet these standards.
Safety is a top priority of the U.S. vaccine safety development and approval process. The development process for COVID-19 vaccines involved several steps comparable with those used to develop other vaccines such as the flu or measles vaccine, which have successfully protected millions of Ohioans for decades. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), as well as independent medical experts, have ensured that every detail of COVID-19 vaccines is thoroughly and rigorously evaluated. Evidence shows that COVID-19 vaccines are safe and work to prevent COVID-19. Of the first two vaccines to be granted FDA emergency use authorization, the Pfizer BioNTech vaccine was 95% effective, and the Moderna vaccine was 94% effective in phase 3 clinical trials with more than 70,000 participants between the two studies. Although the COVID-19 vaccines themselves have been developed recently, the technology used in mRNA vaccines, like those developed by Pfizer BioNTech and Moderna, has been studied for decades.
How many doses of COVID-19 vaccine will be needed? When is the second dose due?
Both the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine and the Moderna vaccine, which have been granted emergency use authorization, require two doses. Ohioans who receive a dose of a particular vaccine must receive a second dose of the vaccine from the same manufacturer, and they are not interchangeable. For example, if you receive a first dose of the Moderna vaccine, your second dose must be the Moderna vaccine, administered 28 days after the first dose. These recommended intervals, with a standard four-day grace period, should be followed as closely as possible to receive full protection. There is a vaccine in development and Phase 3 clinical trials that uses one dose. When you receive your vaccine, you’ll receive information on when and how you will receive your second dose.
Why is a COVID-19 vaccine needed if social distancing & wearing masks prevent the COVID-19 virus from spreading?
Getting us through the pandemic requires using all the tools available. Vaccines boost your immune system, so it will be ready to fight the virus if you are exposed. Other steps, like masks and social distancing, help reduce your chance of being exposed to or spreading the virus. Together, the coming COVID-19 vaccines and proper prevention measures will offer the best protection from COVID-19.
I had COVID. Do I still need to get the vaccine?
Yes, you should still get the vaccine even if you have recovered from COVID. At this time, experts do not know how long someone is protected from getting sick again after recovering from COVID-19. Due to the severe health risks associated with COVID-19, and because re-infection with COVID-19 is possible, people may be advised to get a COVID-19 vaccine even if they have been sick with COVID-19 before. The immunity someone gains from having an infection, called natural immunity, varies from person to person.
Who is paying for the COVID-19 vaccine?
Vaccine doses will be given to Ohioans who choose to receive them at no cost.
Once I get a vaccine, can I relax some of the safety measures I’ve been taking?
You should continue to wear a mask and practice social distancing after being vaccinated. The vaccine will protect you from getting sick from COVID-19, however, not enough is known about whether or not you can still carry the virus and spread it to others. At this time, those who get the vaccine should continue to wear masks and practice social distancing. It will likely be some time before we can relax any safety measures.
- Centers for Disease Control – Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19)
- Cleveland Department of Public Health – Coronavirus updates page
- Cuyahoga County Board of Health – Coronavirus updates page
- Ohio Department of Health – Coronavirus updates page
- MetroHealth Quarantine Resources page – Information about where to get additional resources including food and medicine
Vaccination information source: CDC & Ohio Department of Health