Frequently Asked QuestionsHere are answers to some common questions about COVID-19, the vaccines, and guidance.
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01. COVID-19 (3)
Many people with COVID-19 don’t have any symptoms. Some people have symptoms similar to a cold or flu. Some people get very sick and need to be taken care of in the hospital. The most common symptoms include: fever, chills, cough, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, fatigue, muscle or body aches, headache, loss of taste or smell, sore throat, congestion or runny nose, nausea or vomiting, and diarrhea. Symptoms may appear 2-14 days after exposure to the virus.
Anyone can get sick with COVID-19. Older adults, people who have heart, lung, kidney or liver disease, people with diabetes, and people who are overweight or obese, seem to be at higher risk for getting seriously ill if they get COVID-19. Some people get seriously ill from COVID-19 even without any of these conditions.
02. Vaccines (37)
Yes. All of the COVID-19 vaccines available in the United States are effective at reducing your chances of getting COVID-19, getting very sick, and dying from COVID-19. To maximize protection from the Delta variant and prevent possibly spreading it to others, you should continue to wear a mask indoors when in public, even if you are fully vaccinated.
Yes, effective July 1, 2021, the COVID-19 Vaccination Rights for Employees and Employer Obligations Ordinance went into effect. In Cook County, employers cannot require workers to get vaccinated outside of work hours. If your employer requires you to be vaccinated and your appointment is during your shift, you are to be compensated up to four hours per dose. If your employer does not require you to be vaccinated, you can use paid sick leave or paid time off to get vaccinated, but your employer cannot require you to find coverage for your shift during that time. Learn more or file a complaint with Cook County’s Commission on Human Rights: https://bit.ly/VaxRights
If you work in healthcare, at a school, college, university, state-owned or operated church or place of worship, and you are not fully vaccinated, you are required to get tested weekly. Employees who are exempt from the vaccine requirement due to a medical or religious reason must get tested weekly.
Many people have no side effects from the COVID-19 vaccination. Some people experience soreness where they received the vaccine, a headache or other side effects that make them feel under the weather for one or two days. These side effects are normal signs that your body is building protection against the virus.
Can health care workers, school personnel, higher education personnel, and higher education students choose to be tested rather than be vaccinated, even if they do not meet the requirements for a medical or religious exemption?
Yes. If you are required to get vaccinated (because you work in healthcare, at a school, college/university or state-owned or operated church or place of worship), you do have the option to be tested weekly instead. However, your employer may have stricter requirements.
Can people who received Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen (J&J/Janssen) COVID-19 vaccine get a booster dose of an mRNA vaccine?
No. The company’s research suggests that a 2nd dose of the J&J vaccine, more than six months after your original dose, may increase the effectiveness of the vaccine against COVID. However, the FDA and CDC are reviewing data to see if a booster will be recommended. At this time we do not recommend mixing vaccine types.
Yes. In Illinois, as long as you can medically tolerate it, everyone 2 years and older should wear a mask over their nose and mouth in indoor public places. Masking is also recommended for crowded outdoor settings and activities that involve close contact with others who are not fully vaccinated.
You can remove your face covering while actively eating or drinking (including in bars or restaurants). While working, workers can remove their masks as long as they consistently maintain six feet of distance. An example of this would be if you’re working in your own office room or cubicle.
Everyone is required to wear a face covering on planes, buses, trains, and other forms of public transportation; in transportation hubs such as airports, train and bus stations; in congregate facilities such as correctional facilities and homeless shelters; and in healthcare settings.
How do I access the IDPH Vax Verify portal (also known as Illinois Resident Immunization Portal) for my immunization record(s)?
All steps have been taken to ensure the vaccines are safe and effective.
Millions of people in the United States have received COVID-19 vaccines under the most intense safety monitoring in U.S. history.
The CDC recommends you get a COVID-19 vaccine as soon as you can.
I received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, which was described as a single-dose. Will a need a booster shot of J&J
It is true that children are less likely to have symptoms. If children have symptoms they are usually mild. Children do get infected with COVID-19 and can spread it to others. We do not know what impact COVID-19 infection might have on a child’s future health so it is important to do everything we can to protect them.
The vaccines are working very well to prevent the worst cases of COVID-19 that lead to hospitalization or death, even against the highly contagious Delta variant. The virus is constantly changing and scientists are seeing reduced protection against mild and moderate disease. Booster shots are recommended for some people to ensure the best protection.
Yes. The 2-part Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine is safe and effective for children aged 12-17 years old. The FDA examines the data on testing, safety, and effectiveness before allowing emergency use authorization.
COVID-19 vaccines are safe and effective for children 12 and older. They have been approved by the FDA under the most intensive safety monitoring in U.S. history.
Yes. COVID-19 vaccines are safe and recommended for most people with any medical conditions. Vaccination helps to prevent severe illness, hospitalization and death from COVID-19. If you have a medical condition, speak with your healthcare provider about steps you can take to manage your health and risks. Getting vaccinated, wearing a mask, washing your hands, and keeping your distance from others are all very important to keep you safe from COVID-19.
People with moderately to severely compromised immune systems should receive an additional dose of mRNA COVID-19 vaccine after the initial 2 doses. https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/vaccines/different-vaccines.html
The active ingredient in the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines is Messenger RNA (or mRNA). Messenger RNA is a protein that helps the body make antibodies to the COVID-19 virus. Antibodies are like soldiers that fight the virus. The vaccine gets your body ready to fight for when it recognizes the real virus.
Most side effects will go away on their own.
If you gave pain, redness or swelling on the arm where you got the shot, you can put a clean, cool, wet washcloth over the area. Keep using your arm as you usually do.
If you are feeling feverish, drink plenty of fluids and dress lightly. Talk to your doctor about taking an over-the-counter medicine, such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen.
If your side effects don’t go away within 3-4 days, talk to your doctor.
A booster shot is recommended due to concern that the effectiveness of the vaccine decreases over time and may not protect against a new strain, such as delta. Doctors use the term third dose when referring to people with compromised immune systems who may not have gotten the level of protection they need from the first two doses. The third dose provides that level of immunity.
As long as you are no longer in isolation or infectious, it is safe to get the vaccine. If you had symptoms of COVID-19, you are no longer infectious 10 days after your symptoms started. If you never had any symptoms of COVID-19, you are no longer infectious 10 days after the day you tested positive.
Why is CCDPH recommending vaccines for pregnant or breastfeeding people and kids 12 and up, but not for kids under 12?
Data shows the benefits of COVID-19 vaccination for all people 12 and older, including people who are pregnant, breastfeeding, trying to get pregnant now, or might become pregnant in the future. Scientists are still researching which vaccines and doses best protect children under 12 years safely and effectively. The FDA and CDC is expected to approve a vaccine for children ages 5-11 years old in the coming weeks.
03. Testing (11)
How can Schools, Health Care Facilities and Higher Education Institutions verify an employee’s or student’s negative test results?
Test results must be provided in writing (paper or electronic copy) and must include information that confirms the person’s identity, the type of test that was done (must be NAAT or antigen test), the test result, the clinic or compant that is providing the test result, and the date the test was performed.
If you are fully vaccinated, you should get tested 3-5 days after you were exposed to someone with COVID-19. If you are not fully vaccinated, you should get tested right away. If your first test is negative, get tested again 5-7 days after you were exposed. Quarantine yourself for at least 7 days from exposure and make sure you have a negative test before leaving quarantine. To be extra safe, stay in quarantine for 14 days. If you are vaccinated you don’t need to quarantine. Both people who are vaccinated and unvaccinated should monitor themselves for symptoms of COVID-19 for 14 days after their exposure.
What resources are available for institutions and individuals covered by the Executive Order to meet the testing requirement?
All Cook County residents aged 12 years or older are eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. Currently, children under 18 can only receive the Pfizer vaccine and must be accompanied by a parent or guardian. In some cases, parental consent can be given in advance. Vaccinations are free, regardless of insurance or immigration status. Visit myshotcookcounty.com or cookcountypublichealth.org to find a site near you.
Schools and other community-based testing sites do not need a Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendments (CLIA) waiver when collaborating with a testing provider for screening, such as SHIELD Illinois. The testing provider will be responsible for obtaining a CLIA waiver. Go here for info: https://shieldillinois.com/
04. Prevention (1)
05. Masking (10)
Can customers sitting inside at bars or restaurants remove their face coverings when eating and drinking?
Yes. Customers can remove their face coverings when actively eating and drinking but should wear face coverings at all other times when inside a bar or restaurant. It is recommended that tables be arranged so that seated patrons are a minimum of six feet away from patrons at other tables.
Do I have to wear a face covering indoors if I’m able to maintain six feet of physical distancing some or most of the time?
Do people have to wear face coverings in health and fitness centers if they can stay six feet apart?
People are strongly encouraged to wear face coverings in crowded outdoor settings and for activities that involve close contact with people who are not fully vaccinated. Individual businesses can institute their own policies around masking outdoors, such as concert venues.
Persons who cannot medically tolerate a face covering are exempt from the Order. Individuals and businesses might consider the following alternatives: – Allow the customer to wear a scarf, loose face covering, or full-face shield instead of a face covering. – Allow the customer to wear a scarf, loose face covering, or full-face shield instead of a face covering. – Allow the customer to wear a scarf, loose face covering, or full-face shield instead of a face covering. – Allow the customer to wait in a car for an appointment and enter the building when called or texted. – Offer appointments by telephone or video.
06. Guidance/Mandates (8)
Tents, including those used for weddings, must have at least 50% of the sides open in order to be considered an outdoor area. Tents that do not have at least 50% of the sides open are considered public indoor places and occupants must wear face coverings, regardless of vaccination status or physical distancing.
No. There are no domestic or international travel restrictions but the CDC does recommend delaying travel until you are fully vaccinated.
If you are not fully vaccinated and must travel, follow the CDC’s recommendations found here.
Guidance for domestic travel can be found here.
Guidance for international travel can be found here.
No. School-aged children do not have to quarantine after returning from domestic travel. They should continue to attend school in-person. However, they should get tested 3-5 days after returning from their trip and should monitor for symptoms of COVID-19 for 14 days.
If a specific medical practice is not identified in the Executive Order, does that mean they are exempt?
Yes. Businesses and venues should post clear signage for patrons and the public instructing them on face covering requirements. Signage should be posted at entrances and in various locations throughout the premises, especially those where individuals may congregate. You can download signs in English and Spanish here: https://cookcountypublichealth.org/ccdph-covid-19-communications/
What does the Governor’s latest order [Executive Order 21-22 (09/03/21)] say regarding face covering and vaccination requirements?
Governor Pritzker signed Executive Order 21-22 on September 3, 2021. This Order requires all individuals over the age of 2 and who can medically tolerate a face covering to wear a face covering when in indoor public places. The Executive Order also requires health care workers, school personnel, higher education personnel and students, and employees and contractors of state-owned or operated congregate facilities to be fully vaccinated.
07. Resources (1)
Yes. IDPH will provide free testing for all public PK-12 schools (includes tiers 1, 2, 3 and 4) and private schools through June 30, 2022 through the SHIELD Illinois program. For info, go here: http://shieldillinois.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/09/IDPH-SHIELD-IL-overview-091621.pdf
08. Contact Tracing (1)
If an employee who undergoes regular, weekly testing receives a postive COVID test result, they should immediately isolate at home. If they have symptoms, isolation should continue for 10 days starting with the day symptoms began. If they have no symptoms, isolation should continue for 10 days starting with the day the positive test was collected.
09. Misinformation (2)
10. Miscellaneous (7)
Do health care workers, such as a receptionist at a clinic, have to get vaccinated, or does the mandate apply only to healthcare workers who see patients?
Examples of Health Care Facilities include: pharmacies, ambulatory surgical treatment centers, free-standing emergency centers, birth centers, hospices, hospitals, physician offices, and dental offices. Health Care Facilities also include places that provide: urgent care, post-surgical recovery care, end-stage renal disease care, long-term care, specialized mental health rehabilitation, assistance with activities of daily living, mental health care, and public health services.
Examples of healthcare workers include: physicians, nurses, nursing assistants, physician assistants, pharmacists, EMS personnel, first responders, chiropractors, optometrists, dentists, dental hygienists, public health personnel, aides, staff and other personnel working in a health care facility.
A “public indoor place” is an indoor event space, facility, or building where people visit or work. Examples of public indoor places include businesses, retail establishments, office buildings, entertainment venues, hotel meeting rooms and ballrooms, lobby areas, and indoor sports complexes.
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