COVID-19 is a disease caused by the novel coronavirus Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2). It is a respiratory illness that can spread from person to person.
SARS-CoV-2 typically spreads from person to person through respiratory droplets. When an infected person sneezes, coughs, talks, or breathes, it releases droplets. Someone nearby can inhale the droplets into their lungs, or the droplets can land in their eyes, nose, or mouth, infecting them.
Infected droplets also can land on surfaces or objects. When a person touches those surfaces and then touches their nose, mouth, or eyes without washing their hands, this also can cause an infection.
If a person is infected, they can spread the coronavirus even if they don't have symptoms of COVID-19.
People who have been in close contact with someone who has COVID-19 are at the greatest risk of infection. However, the COVID-19 vaccine can significantly reduce your risk of infection. The COVID-19 vaccines are effective against COVID-19, especially in preventing severe illness, hospitalization, and death.
Certain groups of people also are more at risk of severe illness from COVID-19, including hospitalization and death. People more at risk of COVID-19 complications include older adults and people with existing medical conditions like cancer, diabetes, heart disease, kidney disease, and more. Unvaccinated people also are at greater risk for severe illness than vaccinated people.
The most common symptoms of COVID-19 include:
Symptoms usually appear within 2-14 days after exposure. They can range from mild to severe. Some people may experience no symptoms at all. However, even asymptomatic people can spread the coronavirus.
To prevent the spread of this virus:
Get vaccinated. Ensure you are fully vaccinated, and encourage your family members and loved ones to get vaccinated. To schedule a vaccine, go to Vaccine.UPMC.com. The COVID-19 vaccines available are safe and effective against COVID-19. They are especially effective in preventing severe illness, hospitalization, and death.
Wear a mask. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends people 2 years old and up who are not fully vaccinated wear a cloth facemask in indoor public places. People who are fully vaccinated should wear a mask in indoor public places if they are in an area with high transmission rates of COVID-19, or if they are immunocompromised. Please be advised that guidelines vary by state or even by business. Be sure to follow all laws and guidelines about wearing a mask, whether you are fully vaccinated or not.
Other ways you can protect yourself include:
If you are experiencing mild COVID-19 symptoms without breathing problems, or if you believe you have been exposed to COVID-19, the best way for you to get tested at UPMC is by visiting one of our UPMC Collection Center testing sites or UPMC Urgent Care locations.
The UPMC Emergency Department is not the place to get a COVID-19 test, unless you are experiencing breathing problems or other severe symptoms. Test results do not come back more quickly by coming to the Emergency Department. For more information on COVID-19 testing, please visit our testing page.
The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act requires providers to list the “cash price" of COVID-19 tests on their public websites. UPMC's standard charge for a COVID-19 diagnostic lab test is $125, and the standard charge for the specimen collection is $30. If you have insurance, most plans will waive cost-sharing for COVID-19 testing, so there should be no out-of-pocket cost to you for this test.
Please contact your insurer if you have questions about your plan. Similarly, if you do not have insurance, you will not have an out-of-pocket cost for the COVID-19 diagnostic lab test. The CARES Act provides a financial support mechanism for hospitals and providers that conduct COVID-19 diagnostic testing on uninsured patients during the public health emergency.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has authorized several different treatments for COVID-19. If you are experiencing COVID-19 symptoms, talk to your doctor about treatment.
One promising COVID-19 treatment is monoclonal antibodies. UPMC is a national leader in providing monoclonal antibodies, which significantly reduce the risk of hospitalization and death in people with COVID-19. To learn more about monoclonal antibodies and to see who is eligible for this treatment, visit UPMC.com/AntibodyTreatment.
UPMC is monitoring the COVID-19 situation around the clock. We have implemented all recommendations from our local and state departments of health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
If you are under regular care for a chronic condition, have postponed necessary care, or are urgently ill, talk to your doctor about whether you need an office visit or a medically necessary procedure or surgery. If you do need to come to one of our facilities for treatment, we are taking every measure to keep you safe during this challenging time:
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has authorized or approved three COVID-19 vaccines:
UPMC is providing all three vaccines.
In the United States, people 5 and older are eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine.
To schedule a vaccine appointment with UPMC, visit Vaccine.UPMC.com and follow the instructions there. You also can schedule an appointment by calling 844-876-2822 between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m., seven days a week.
The COVID-19 vaccine is free.
After being vaccinated, you may receive a notice electronically or in the mail from your insurance company, called an Explanation of Benefits (EOB), that a charge to give the vaccine was submitted. It is not a bill, and it is not a charge for the vaccine. The government allows your vaccine provider to charge your insurance for the cost of giving/administering the vaccine.
For those who do not have insurance, or if insurance does not cover the fee, you will not be responsible for the fee. If you receive an EOB and would like more information, please contact your health insurer.
Yes. UPMC offers second dose vaccine appointments, regardless of where you received your first dose. However, we encourage you to get your second dose from the same provider when it is possible and practical for you to do so.
Please visit Vaccine.UPMC.com, and follow the process for scheduling a vaccine online or by phone. In the online system, there will be an option for you to indicate that this is your second dose. You should have your vaccine card handy so you can provide important details about your first dose. If you are scheduling by phone, please indicate that this is your second dose and that UPMC did not provide your first dose.
The Pfizer and Moderna vaccines both require two doses for full protection. The recommended date to get the second dose of the Pfizer vaccine is at least 21 days after your first dose. The recommended date to get the second dose of the Moderna vaccine is at least 28 days after your first dose. You should not get your second dose before that time.
The CDC says you should get your second dose as closely as possible to the recommended date. However, if it is not possible to get the second dose on that exact date, you still can receive it later. According to the CDC, you can receive the second dose of both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines up to six weeks after your first dose.
The J&J vaccine does not currently require a second dose.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), you can get your COVID-19 vaccine without regard to the timing of other vaccines. You can even get the COVID-19 vaccine on the same day as another vaccine.
You are not considered fully vaccinated until two weeks after receiving your final dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. That's two weeks after your second dose of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine, or two weeks after receiving the single-dose J&J vaccine.
Until you are fully vaccinated, you should continue to follow COVID-19 preventive tactics. That includes wearing a mask and physically distancing in indoor public places.
Once you are fully vaccinated, you may safely resume many activities without wearing a mask and physically distancing. However, you should continue to follow any laws, regulations, or guidelines about wearing a mask, even after you are fully vaccinated. Also, people who are immunocompromised should consider continuing to wear a mask and physically distancing in indoor public places even after being fully vaccinated.
You should not get the vaccine if you are currently infected with COVID-19, if you have been exposed to COVID-19, or if you have another respiratory illness. If you have symptomatic or asymptomatic COVID-19 or have been exposed to COVID-19, you should not get vaccinated until you meet the CDC’s guidelines for ending isolation. Talk to your provider about rescheduling.
If you have another respiratory illness, talk to your provider about when it is safe for you to receive the vaccine.
Yes, and UPMC is currently offering additional doses of the Pfizer, Moderna, and J&J vaccines to those who are eligible, following the guidelines of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
For more information, visit Vaccine.UPMC.com or call 844-876-2822 between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m., seven days a week.
The three vaccines in distribution all are effective against COVID-19. They are especially effective in preventing severe illness, hospitalization, and death.
Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, multiple variants of SARS-CoV-2 have emerged. The most significant current variant circulating in the United States is the Delta variant (B.1.617.2). Delta is more contagious than the original version of the virus.
The vaccines continue to be effective in preventing COVID-19, even with the variants. They are most effective in preventing severe illness from COVID-19, including hospitalizations and deaths.
Yes. The vaccine is safe and effective against COVID-19.
Before the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) authorized the vaccines, they underwent a thorough safety review. All available data from clinical trials and since distribution began report the vaccines are safe. Health officials are continuing to monitor the safety and effectiveness of the vaccines.
The most common side effects of the vaccines include pain and swelling where you received the shot, fever, chills, fatigue, and headache. These are common for many vaccines because a vaccine triggers an immune response. The side effects should go away within a few days.
There have been some reports of isolated allergic reactions to the vaccine, which scientists are investigating. Allergic reactions to vaccines are not common and are typically mild.
If you have a history of anaphylaxis or severe allergic reaction to a vaccine, vaccine component, or injectable medication, you should consult your primary care physician or allergist before receiving the COVID-19 vaccine.
If you have allergies that don’t relate to vaccines or injectable medicines, the CDC recommends you get the COVID-19 vaccine.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends vaccination for women who are pregnant, breastfeeding, trying to become pregnant now, or who may become pregnant in the future. Pregnant women are at higher risk for COVID-19 complications, including severe illness, so vaccination is a key preventive step. The benefits of receiving a COVID-19 vaccination outweigh any known or potential risks of vaccination during pregnancy.
The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) and the Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine (SMFM) also recommend COVID-19 vaccination for pregnant women.
Despite online rumors that the COVID-19 vaccine can affect fertility, this is not true. The COVID-19 vaccine has no impact on fertility in men or women.
Like any vaccine, getting the COVID-19 vaccine is your personal choice. You can choose to get it or not when it becomes available to you. However, getting the vaccine can protect both you and the people around you, including our most vulnerable individuals. The vaccine is a crucial step to slow the spread of COVID-19 in our communities.
The following people should not get the vaccine:
People with a history of certain health conditions should talk to their doctor before scheduling their COVID-19 vaccine appointment.