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Have symptoms or concerns about COVID-19? Our physicians are here to help. Whether you’re looking for answers to questions, guidance on next steps or peace of mind, get text-based care 24/7 from the safety and comfort of home. Download the 98point6 app to sign up and start a visit.
COVID-19 vaccines are safe, effective and a critical tool to end the pandemic. Not only will getting vaccinated help prevent you from getting seriously ill or suffering complications from COVID-19-related illness, it enables you to cautiously resume some activities without wearing a mask or physically distancing. Click here to better understand why the CDC encourages widespread vaccination.
Sign up for V-safe—your participation helps ensure COVID-19 vaccine safety for everyone.
Brad Younggren, MD
98point6 Chief Medical Officer
Virtual care is one of the most impactful tools available in the fight against COVID-19, and we’re as dedicated as ever to providing the diagnosis, treatment and reassurance you need from home. Text-based care allows us to evaluate symptoms without you risking exposure—or potentially passing the illness to others—helping to prevent further spread of the virus.
Vaccine trials generally last many months to ensure that they are safe. We know, from decades of testing vaccines, that any serious side effects, which are rare, typically occur soon after the vaccine is given, and not months later. The trials are monitored by an independent team of experts. If this independent data and the safety monitoring board find the vaccine to be safe, it then goes through two more layers of scrutiny (Food and Drug Administration and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) before being authorized for use in humans. In short, the path to vaccine approval is complex, multilayered and errs on the side of patient safety. Although we are in unprecedented times, you should rest assured that regulatory and scientific bodies (such as the CDC and FDA) are taking every possible precaution to ensure that any vaccine that you receive is both safe and effective. While some rare side-effects have occurred with the authorized COVID-19 vaccines and are understandably concerning, they also demonstrate that COVID-19 vaccine safety is important and the FDA takes reports of adverse effects seriously so they can make their most informed, timely decision. The FDA and the CDC continue to ensure that the safety and benefits of all COVID-19 vaccines far outweigh the associated risks.
The Pfizer vaccine has been authorized by the FDA for use in children ages 5–11, to be administered in a 2-dose series of shots with a 21-day interval between doses. The Pfizer vaccine was authorized for use in patients ages 12–15 earlier this year and is now approved for use in individuals 16+. Click here for the CDC’s guide to finding a vaccine near you.
Other vaccine manufacturers, such as Moderna and Johnson & Johnson, are still conducting clinical trials to ensure vaccine safety and efficacy in children ages 17 and under. These trials have been expanded to ensure the detection of safety signals in children under 12.
All vaccinated individuals ages 12+, as well as children ages 5–11 with immune deficiencies, should get an additional shot. Boosters are recommended 5 months after the completion of the initial series of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccine and 2 months after the J&J vaccine. For individuals who are immunocompromised, the CDC has provided additional guidance. If you have further questions, please start a visit.
Yes. Pfizer studied the safety of the vaccine in more than 3,000 vaccinated children ages 5–11. Localized reactions to the vaccine were slightly higher for redness and swelling in this age group as compared to 16-25 year olds. Systemic reactions (e.g., fever, headache) were equivalent or significantly lower in every category except for swollen lymph glands. There were no cases of myocarditis or pericarditis, no serious adverse events related to the vaccine and no deaths occurred. The vaccine was found to be 90.7% effective in preventing disease in this age group.
Your local health department determines how vaccines are distributed. Click here to select your state or territory via the CDC; you’ll get routed to the appropriate website where you can find relevant resources, answer questions about eligibility and pre-register to reserve a spot to get a vaccine.
Eligible persons 18+ may choose which vaccine they receive as a booster dose. Some people may have a preference for the vaccine type that they originally received, while others may prefer to get a different booster. CDC’s recommendations now allow for this type of mix and match dosing for booster shots.
At present, the Pfizer vaccine is the only one authorized for use in children and adolescents ages 5–17 for both the initial series as well as the booster dose.
The first two vaccines from Moderna and Pfizer are made using mRNA technology that requires two shots 3–4 weeks apart. The Johnson & Johnson vaccine is a one-shot option. Despite different makeups and criteria around storage, these vaccines all work in the same way: teaching your immune system to protect you against COVID-19 by making an antibody to the spike protein on the surface of the virus. Think of the COVID-19 spike protein as a key that unlocks a door on your healthy cells, allowing the virus to enter. Once you make an antibody to the spike protein (with the help of the vaccine), the shape of the key changes and the virus will not be able to enter your cells and make you sick.
Although all currently available COVID-19 vaccines are highly effective at preventing severe illness and death, Moderna and Pfizer vaccines are preferred over the Johnson & Johnson vaccine due to a small but significant risk of the development of a rare blood clotting disorder that has been reported in some patients after receiving the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. Only those persons who cannot receive an mRNA vaccine should undergo vaccination with Johnson & Johnson.
Yes, according to recommendations from the CDC, since there are still unknowns around re-infection (especially with the Delta variant) and how long immunity lasts. If you were treated for COVID-19 with monoclonal antibodies or convalescent plasma, however, speak to your healthcare provider, as some timing restrictions exist.
The most common reactions reported for all 3 approved vaccines are fever, fatigue, headache, muscle aches and pain at the injection site. One thing to note, the symptoms seem to be more significant after the second dose of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, although some people just feel tired for a day or two and others have no side effects at all.
No. Some evidence has indicated that the use of anti-inflammatories may interfere with the body’s immune response. While there is no definitive conclusion, experts recommend avoiding acetaminophen and NSAIDs prior to vaccination to ensure maximum immune response and vaccine effectiveness.
CDC and FDA physicians have reviewed more than 6,000 U.S. post-vaccination deaths reported among the more than 346 million COVID-19 vaccinations. After conducting an updated analysis, evaluation and investigation of reported cases, the FDA has determined that the risk of a rare blood-clotting disorder occurring after receiving the Johnson & Johnson vaccine warrants limiting its use to only those persons who cannot receive an mRNA vaccine.
You may have heard reports of deaths in other countries occurring post-vaccination. While a very small number of these deaths has been linked to vaccination, investigations have not identified any patterns.
The CDC and FDA continue to monitor adverse event reports to detect any safety signals associated with vaccine administration.
You should reach out to a healthcare provider if you experience any of the following:
If you received the J&J vaccine and experience any of the following within 3-6 weeks, start a new visit with 98point6 or get seen right away in an urgent care or emergency room.
The CDC has recently updated public health recommendations for fully vaccinated individuals. This guidance applies to people two weeks after receiving either both doses of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines or those who received the single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine more than two weeks ago.
Visit this webpage from the CDC frequently for the latest public health recommendations around masking, physical distancing and COVID-19 testing for fully vaccinated people.
More than 13 million doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine have been given in the U.S. The CDC and FDA have reviewed cases of blood clots in individuals after getting the vaccine. In the blood clotting cases, the blood clotting was seen with low levels of blood platelets. These were in women 18 years of age and older, and symptoms occurred 6–15 days after vaccination.
On April 23, 2021 the CDC advisory committee on immunization practices (ACIP) met and lifted the temporary pause on the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. The CDC presented significant evidence that the benefits of using this vaccine far outweigh the risks of rare, serious adverse events. The FDA has required Johnson & Johnson to add a warning to the vaccine information describing the clotting risks and the CDC encourages that alternative vaccines (i.e., Pfizer or Moderna) should be considered in women 18+ who are at potentially higher risk for the very rare development of blood clots.
There also appears to be an increased risk of developing a rare neurologic condition called Guillain-Barré syndrome in people who received the J&J vaccine. This condition can cause muscle weakness, tingling/numbness, blurry vision and trouble speaking. The CDC reviewed these data on July 22, 2021 and concluded the safety and benefits of the vaccine far outweigh the very low risk of developing this condition.
If you have concerns about receiving the J&J vaccine, please start a visit with 98point6 or contact your healthcare provider.
Right now, these reported side effects seem to be extremely rare. However, if you got the Johnson & Johnson vaccine and then get a bad headache, stomach pain, leg pain, leg weakness, trouble speaking, numbness/tingling in the extremities, blurry vision, or shortness of breath within six weeks after the vaccine, please start a new visit with 98point6 at any time of day or night, or get seen right away in an urgent care or an emergency room.
Not only will vaccination help keep you from getting COVID-19 or experiencing serious, life-threatening complications from the virus, widespread vaccination is key to ending the pandemic. After you are fully vaccinated for COVID-19, you can also return to some activities that you stopped doing, such as gathering indoors with friends without masks or physical distancing and traveling within the U.S. without testing or self-quarantining. Click here for the CDC’s complete guide to the benefits of getting a COVID-19 vaccine.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), adults of increasing age and people who have serious chronic medical conditions like heart disease, diabetes and lung disease have a higher risk of developing complications from this illness.
Outside this high-risk group, a complete recovery is likely, although reports of complications in a subset of COVID-19 patients include Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome (MIS-C) in children, as well as respiratory, neurological, kidney and vascular effects on adults. Also bear in mind that people of all ages and levels of risk can transmit the infection and increase the spread.
Click here for the most complete and updated list from the CDC of people at highest risk of severe illness from COVID-19.
The best way to prevent illness is to take the right precautions, as guided by the CDC. This includes:
Click here for the latest updates on COVID-19, including a state-by-state map from Johns Hopkins that shows reported cases and community transmission to date by county level.
Yes. CDC data presented by the FDA documented that children ages 5–11 account for 10.6% of all cases in the U.S., with the 5–11 year-old current case rate nearly the highest of any age group. The Pfizer vaccine was proven very effective (90.7%) for preventing COVID-19 in children and is now authorized for use in this age group, making it your strongest defense against serious illness.
In rare cases, some children are experiencing a systemic inflammatory condition similar to Kawasaki disease with fever, eye redness and an unusual rash on the body (including the extremities). Currently being referred to as Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome in Children (MIS-C), this can occur without the usual respiratory symptoms and in children who have recovered from a previous COVID-19 infection. If your child is experiencing any of the above, start a visit with us or contact your pediatrician to see if testing for COVID-19 or an in-person evaluation is appropriate.
The CDC currently defines “close contact” as being within 6 feet of an infected person for a cumulative total of 15 minutes or more over one 24-hour period. The difference between the prior recommendation is the cumulative factor. Whereas previously, 15 consecutive minutes defined close contact, the revised recommendation states that exposures can be added together over one 24-hour period. For example, if you interact on a construction site for three minutes with an infected person, five separate times, for a total of 15 minutes in a workday, that would fit the new definition.
The most common symptoms of COVID-19 are fever, tiredness, shortness of breath and dry cough. Some patients may have aches and pains, nasal congestion, runny nose, sore throat, diarrhea or loss of sense of taste and smell. These symptoms are usually mild, begin gradually and can appear 2–14 days after being exposed. Individuals of increasing age and those with underlying medical conditions like high blood pressure, heart problems, lung conditions or diabetes are more likely to develop serious illness. For a more detailed look at symptoms, visit the CDC page here.
Breakthrough infections with COVID-19 can and do occur. Even if you are fully vaccinated, the CDC recommends getting tested if you develop symptoms consistent with COVID-19.
98point6 encourages widespread use of testing for COVID-19, and your physician may recommend it as part of your medical evaluation. You are also encouraged to discuss any concerns you might have about your personal risk or potential for exposure, as 98point6 doctors can order testing on the basis of these concerns, even in the absence of symptoms. Connecting with a physician will ensure your symptoms get assessed and you are guided towards the right next steps, which may include a visit to a testing center nearest you.
It’s important to get the care you need in a way that prevents the disease from spreading to others. Take advantage of virtual care or contact your healthcare provider (call before visiting). A physician will discuss your symptoms and your risk for COVID-19 and help you decide whether you need testing. It may be recommended you self-isolate in your home for a period of time.
If you live with family or roommates, this entails:
The CDC has revised the recommended times for quarantine. People who have been exposed to COVID-19 and are unvaccinated or are more than 6 months out from their second mRNA dose or 2 months out from their J&J vaccine and have not yet boosted should quarantine for 5 days followed by strict mask use for an additional 5 days. For all those exposed, best practice should include a test at day 5 post-exposure. If symptoms occur, individuals should immediately isolate until a negative test confirms symptoms are not attributable to COVID-19.
Click here for more guidance from the CDC.
Unless you are in a high-risk group (older adults and people who have serious chronic medical conditions) for developing complications, the best thing you can do is self-isolate and monitor your symptoms carefully.
If you develop emergency warning signs for COVID-19, get medical attention immediately. If possible, call your healthcare provider ahead of time and tell them your COVID-19 status. Emergency warning signs include*:
*This list is not all-inclusive. Please consult your medical provider for any other symptoms that are severe or concerning.
Currently, testing is recommended for symptomatic individuals and for asymptomatic unvaccinated individuals who have been in “close contact” with a person who has COVID-19. Close contact is defined as being within 6 feet of a person who has a COVID-19 infection for at least 15 minutes total in the last 24 hours. There are exceptions to this updated recommendation; for example, if you live with someone at high-risk of COVID-19 complications, such as an elderly person or an individual with an underlying health condition, you can discuss with your doctor whether testing might be helpful, even with no symptoms and a lesser degree of exposure.
The CDC also recommends testing for individuals who have taken part in activities where inadequate physical distancing puts them at higher risk for COVID-19, such as travel, attending large social or mass gatherings, or being in crowded indoor settings.
COVID-19 testing is becoming more available across the country every day. While an order from a physician is not always required, you can get one from us at any time if needed. Even if you just want reassurance, you can always speak with a 98point6 physician to determine if a test is right for you.
There are two different types of tests for a COVID-19 infection:
PCR (Polymerase Chain Reaction) tests, considered the “gold standard,” use a sample taken from the nose or mouth by swab or saliva. Results can take anywhere from hours to days.
Antigen testing detects the presence of a specific viral antigen in a sample taken from the nose or mouth by swab or saliva. Results are usually available within 15-30 minutes. Most at home “rapid” tests fall into this category.
Antibody testing is a type of test that can be used to detect prior infection of COVID-19, but these tests are not recommended to assess for immunity after exposure, post-vaccination immunity levels, or to determine the need for vaccination or quarantine.
For more information about testing, visit this resource from the FDA.
Our physicians can provide orders for viral and antigen tests; though most testing locations do not require them. If you are seeking a PCR test or wish to have a rapid antigen test administered, you can search for testing sites in your local area here.
Yes. We are available 24/7 to answer questions about your diagnostic or antibody test results, and offer guidance around next steps.
Please note that our physicians are unable to provide travel clearance documentation related to your COVID-19 status.
It is important to understand that the timing of when a person is tested has an impact on the test results. It can take several days after someone is exposed to the virus for there to be enough virus to be detected. For example, being tested on the day of your exposure or the next day will likely result in a negative (not infected) test result, even in individuals who may later go on to develop infection.
COVID-19 tests are mostly likely to detect an infection three (3) to seven (7) days after exposure. COVID-19 PCR tests, which test for virus DNA, are still considered the gold standard, but antigen tests, which test for viral proteins, are increasingly used for testing symptomatic patients and for screening asymptomatic patients. For those who develop symptoms, the CDC recommends getting tested no later than 7 days after symptom onset or exposure to the virus. A 98point6 physician or your healthcare provider can help you determine the best time to be tested. Whenever you have questions or concerns about COVID-19 exposure, symptoms or testing, a physician is your best source of information, guidance and reassurance.
BEFORE: It is not recommended you premedicate before vaccination for the purpose of trying to prevent side effects, because it is not known how these medications may impact the vaccine’s effectiveness.
AFTER: If you have no other medical reasons to prevent you from taking them, over-the-counter medicines, such as ibuprofen, aspirin, antihistamines or acetaminophen can help any pain or discomfort you may have after receiving your vaccination. If you are unsure, our physicians can help guide your specific situation.
There are oral antiviral medications that can be prescribed by our physicians; however, these medications are recommended only for use in patients who are at risk for progression to severe disease. These medications are also not widely available in all areas. If you have tested positive for COVID-19 within the past 5 days, start a visit with 98point6 and discuss your symptoms. Our doctors will be able to help you determine if and how you can get treatment.