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You probably have questions about COVID-19, and we’re here to help. You can find more information on the CDC’s COVID-19 website.


What is COVID-19?

What is COVID-19, and how is it spreading?
COVID-19 is a respiratory (lung) disease caused by a virus. The most common way for the virus to spread is through person-to-person transmission, including:
  • Through the air (by coughing or sneezing).
  • Through close, personal contact (like touching or shaking hands).
  • By touching an object or surface that has the virus on it, then touching your eyes, nose, or mouth.
Information from the CDC about how COVID-19 spreads

How long do I need to isolate?

How long do I need to isolate if I think I’ve been exposed to COVID-19?
Isolation protects the public by separating sick people with a contagious disease from people who are not sick. The CDC provides recommendations for isolation and exposure.


What are the potential symptoms of COVID-19?
People with COVID-19 have mild to severe symptoms, including some or all of the following:
  • Fever or chills
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
  • Muscle or body aches
  • Fatigue
  • Headache
  • New loss of taste or smell
  • Sore throat
  • Congestion or a runny nose
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Diarrhea
This list does not contain all possible symptoms. These symptoms may appear 2-14 days after exposure. Older people and individuals with health conditions like heart disease, lung disease, and diabetes are at a higher risk for developing serious COVID-19 symptoms.

Information from the CDC about COVID-19 symptoms

What can I do?

Take preventive actions:
  • If you are sick, stay home.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and running water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use hand sanitizer that contains at least 60 percent alcohol.
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a mask and practice social distancing when you are around others.
  • Monitor your health daily.
  • Cover coughs and sneezes.
  • Frequently clean and disinfect high-touch surfaces.

Information from the CDC about how to protect yourself and others

Mask guidelines

Are masks still useful?
A mask is a preventive tool that you can use as an extra safety precaution in certain situations. Remember, your mask should fit snugly against the side of your face and should not have any gaps.

If you need additional information, you can read more about when to wear a mask in the CDC’s guide to masks.



I think I might have COVID-19. How do I get tested?
Visit our COVID-19 testing page to read about how to get tested for COVID-19.
How much will testing cost?
Visit our COVID-19 coverage for members page for more information about the cost of diagnostic COVID-19 testing based on your coverage type.


What else is covered if I need care related to COVID-19?
Visit our COVID-19 coverage for members page for more information about what’s covered based on your coverage type.



Can you schedule an appointment for me at UPMC?
If you wish to receive a vaccine or booster, call a Health Care Concierge at the number on your member ID card or chat with us.


Does UPMC Health Plan cover the COVID-19 vaccine? Is it covered at no cost?
Yes. The COVID-19 vaccine is covered when obtained from an in-network provider.

Why get vaccinated?

Getting a vaccine will help protect you and those around you from COVID-19. According to the CDC, getting vaccinated may protect you from getting seriously ill, having to be hospitalized, or possibly dying.

What about the COVID-19 vaccine and pregnant women?

The 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.

For those who use UPMC Magee-Womens Hospital for their care, visit the UPMC Magee-Womens webpage for information regarding safety, visits, and more during the COVID-19 pandemic.

What about the COVID-19 vaccine and children?

Questions your child may have about the COVID vaccine

Is the vaccine safe?
Yes, vaccines are safe. All of the COVID-19 vaccines you can get went through a lot of testing. Health experts are also still monitoring the vaccines. Millions of people in the United States and around the world have already been safely vaccinated.
Will getting a vaccine hurt?
At first, it will feel like any shot you get. For the first few hours and up to a few days after you get the shot, your arm may be sore. You also might feel a little tired and achy. You could have a fever or a headache. Remind your child to tell you right away if he or she notices any of these things.
Why should I get the vaccine?
Like all vaccines (“shots”), this one will help keep you from getting sick. If you do get an infection, it will also help keep you from giving COVID-19 to your family, teachers, coaches, friends, and others that you are around.
Does the vaccine work? What does it do?
Yes! The COVID-19 vaccine helps your body learn how to protect you against the COVID-19 virus (germs). If you do get sick, it also helps prevent serious complications.

General questions about vaccinating your child

Are any COVID-19 vaccines or boosters authorized for use in children?
Yes. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) provides up-to-date guidance on COVID-19 vaccines for children.
What are the side effects of the vaccine?
COVID-19 vaccines are safe. However, your child could have some short-term side effects. These are signs that the body is building protection.

Possible side effects on the arm where your child got the shot:
  • Pain
  • Redness
  • Swelling

Possible side effects throughout the rest of the body:
  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Headache
  • Tiredness
  • Nausea
  • Muscle pain
Call your pediatrician and ask about medicines that can reduce these symptoms. Symptoms usually go away in a few days.

While very rare, serious allergic reactions to the COVID-19 vaccine have been reported. This is why your child will need to wait for 15 to 30 minutes after receiving a vaccine. If your child has a reaction, there are medications to quickly treat it.

As for long-term side effects, the CDC says that these are unlikely. Research and monitoring on other vaccines show that side effects almost always happen within six weeks of getting a vaccine. While it is important to monitor for both allergic reactions and other side effects after vaccination, the current vaccines have been safely given to more than 200 million people across the United States (and many millions more worldwide) under the most intense safety monitoring in U.S. history. Allergic reactions are rare and no long-term side effects have been detected.

What happens after I get my vaccine?

What happens after I get my vaccine?
After getting your vaccine, you may feel some common side effects like pain and swelling where you got the shot, fever, chills, fatigue, and headache. These should go away after a few days. Even when you are up to date with your vaccines, you should still follow the current CDC guidelines to protect yourself and those around you.
When do I get a COVID-19 vaccine card and what do I do with it?
When you go to your first COVID-19 vaccine appointment, you should receive a vaccine card. It should include the following information:
  • What COVID-19 vaccine you received
  • The date you received it
  • The place where you received it
If you didn’t get a card at your vaccine appointment, contact the health care provider office or site where you got vaccinated. If you receive a vaccine from UPMC you can access MyUPMC for a list of all of your immunizations.

If you have questions about your coverage, see your plan documents or contact a health care concierge for the most up-to-date information regarding your benefits.