Answers to Your Top COVID-19 Questions

A woman resets in bed, she may be recovering from COVID-19

How can I tell whether I have COVID-19 or just the flu?

Unfortunately, both COVID-19 and the flu share a lot of common symptoms, including:

  • Fever and chills
  • Shortness of breath
  • Cough
  • Headache and muscle or body pain
  • Fatigue
  • Sore throat
  • Runny nose

Because of this, it isn’t always readily apparent what an unwell person may be suffering from. Despite the similarities, perhaps the most noted difference between the two illnesses by far is that COVID-19 may be accompanied by a loss of smell and taste in a person who has contracted it. Because only some people experience this side effect, COVID-19 testing is very important.

If you have the flu, can you get COVID-19 at the same time?

Even if you already have the flu, you can still contract COVID-19, and vice versa. This situation could be very taxing on your immune system to deal with, leading to serious medical complications. This is another reason to stay home when you’re not feeling well, even if you don’t have COVID-19; exposing yourself to the virus while your immune system is already weak can be dangerous and detrimental to your health.

If you’ve had COVID-19, does that mean you’re now immune?

Though there has not been enough scientific testing to know for sure, indications are that individuals remain immune for several months after they have contracted COVID-19. At the same time, there have also been several examples from around the world where people became infected with COVID-19 for a second time. Because so little is known about immunity to COVID-19, it is important for people to continue to follow health guidelines including wearing masks in public and social distancing even if they previously had COVID-19.

What does the COVID-19 test feel like?

The most common form of testing for active COVID-19 infection involves the insertion of a nasal swab up one nostril to approximately 3 inches deep. Once it reaches the desired area, it is twirled for 10-15 seconds to ensure proper collection of a sample. There is some discomfort and eye watering during insertion of the swab, and it may be accompanied by a stinging sensation afterwards. Overall, there is not too much pain and the sample collection is relatively fast.

What is an antibody test?

An antibody test is a blood test that can show if you’ve been infected by the COVID-19 virus in the recent past—generally, antibodies, or proteins that are created by your immune system, are present in people who have been exposed to COVID-19 2-3 weeks after an infection and up to several months after. This test, also called serology testing, cannot detect active infections.

If you’ve had COVID-19, should you still get the vaccine?

Yes. There are insufficient studies for indicating how long natural immunity might last for after contracting COVID-19. There is a good chance that the vaccine could be more effective in providing longer lasting immunity.

When are people with COVID-19 most contagious?

Unfortunately, people with COVID-19 are most contagious before they are symptomatic. This means the disease often spreads before the infected person knows they have it. This is why health guidelines such as mask wearing are the same across the board for people whether they are feeling unwell, or not.

Can UV light kill the virus?

Although UV light is used in certain situations to kill bacteria and viruses (such as in hospitals and other healthcare facilities), if UV light was intense enough to kill the virus, it would also be detrimental to human health.

Should I go to the hospital if I have COVID-19?

The CDC has specified certain symptoms that they consider emergency warning signs for COVID-19. Anyone experiencing these should seek emergency medical care immediately:

  • Difficulty breathing
  • Persistent pressure or pain in the chest
  • New confusion
  • Inability to wake or stay awake
  • Bluish lips or face

The CDC notes that there could be other serious symptoms of COVID-19 that would indicate emergency medical care is necessary. If you or someone you know is exhibiting symptoms that are severe or worrisome, call your medical provider.

Is the COVID-19 vaccine safe?

Many people worry about the safety of the new COVID-19 vaccines due mostly to the speed at which they became available. In reality, because of the severity of the virus and the serious global implications, one reason for the quick production and approval of vaccines was because unprecedented resources were available for their development. COVID-19 vaccines still go through rigorous testing and clinical trials before they are approved.

Does the COVID-19 vaccine expose you to a small amount of the virus?

Unlike certain vaccines including the flu vaccine, COVID-19 vaccines don’t actually introduce any of the virus into the recipient. COVID-19 vaccines consist of messenger RNA, commonly called mRNA. This molecule was manipulated so that it enters your body and shows your cells how to create a harmless piece of “spike protein,” which is a protein found on the surface of the virus that causes COVID-19. When the body recognizes that the protein is not supposed to be there, it triggers an immune response to attack the cells which have the unusual protein. Essentially, the vaccine shows a harmless blueprint of the virus to your immune system, your immune system learns how to get rid of it, and then the mRNA is broken down and disposed of by your body.

How does the vaccine cause immunity?

Once your immune system “sees” the vaccine, it is better equipped to fight off the actual virus in the future. The second dose of vaccine is essentially another opportunity for your immune system to learn about the virus. This means you are even better equipped to fight off the actual virus in the future.

Are there any side effects of the COVID-19 vaccine?

In administering the COVID-19 vaccine, there is a low possibility that an allergic reaction can occur in the recipient. To date, there have been some instances of this, but the occurrences are rare. To be cautious, medical professionals monitor vaccine recipients after vaccine administration. This way, appropriate assistance can be provided for anyone who experiences an allergic reaction.


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