Most people who have had COVID-19 get better just by resting, drinking fluids, and taking fever-reducing medicine.
If you are at high risk for severe disease (are overweight or have other medical conditions, or are over 50–with increasing risk as you get older), contact your healthcare provider immediately after you test positive. Treatments must start in the first few days of illness to help you get well.
Oral antiviral medications (such as Paxlovid) target specific parts of the SARS-CoV-2 virus and can help reduce its spread through a person’s body. They have been shown to significantly reduce the chance of developing severe COVID. Read more about treatments.
Call your healthcare provider to discuss if oral antivirals could help you.
For healthcare providers, please visit the Philadelphia Health Information Portal and look for the following HAN: COVID-19 Therapeutics: Oral Antivirals – Nirmatrelvir/Ritonavir & Molnupiravir (May 11, 2022) for more information.
If you have trouble breathing, worsening cough, chest pain or pressure, new confusion, inability to wake or stay awake, or bluish lips or face, call 911 or go to the Emergency Department immediately.
It’s possible that people who have had COVID-19 can become re-infected. People who have had COVID-19 will have some short-term immunity to the virus, but it’s possible for those who had COVID-19 to become re-infected.
If you’ve recovered from a previous COVID-19 illness but develop new COVID-19 symptoms, you should isolate and test immediately with a rapid antigen test. You should test even if it’s been less than 90 days since your previous illness.
People with serious underlying health problems are more likely to develop severe COVID-19. If you develop new symptoms, you should always consult with your personal physician or provider about treatments for people with underlying health problems. See the question above (How do you treat COVID-19?) for more information.
Does the Health Department do any contact tracing for COVID-19?
Yes, the COVID-19 vaccine is available for children ages six months and up. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the American Academy of Pediatrics have all recommended that children six months and older be vaccinated against COVID-19 as soon as they can.
Children six months and older should get at least one additional COVID-19 bivalent vaccine when they’re eligible.
Note: Children under the age of 11 must have a parent or guardian present to be vaccinated. Those 11-17 can consent for their own COVID-19 vaccination, subject to the vaccine provider’s determination that they can provide informed consent, but must provide documentation such as:
Access school or health care portals via phone.
Copy of school or sports health forms.
Birth certificates or photos of their birth certificate.
Any other documents with the child’s name and date of birth.
Not all sites will vaccinate people under the age of 16. Make sure to call ahead to confirm a vaccination site has pediatric vaccines and will vaccinate your child. For more information, find a vaccination clinic.
Are there any treatments available for children with COVID-19?
Most children with COVID-19 get better just by resting, drinking fluids, and taking fever-reducing medicine.
If your child has trouble breathing, worsening cough, chest pain or pressure, new confusion, inability to wake or stay awake, or bluish lips or face, call 911 or go to the Emergency Department immediately.
For children 28 days or older who have COVID-19 and are at risk for progressing to severe disease or hospitalized, various treatment options are available. You should discuss these options with your pediatrician.
Can I get my mammogram after I get my shot? Does the shot cause breast cancer?
The shot can cause swollen lymph nodes for a few days to weeks. This swelling is a normal reaction that your body is building protection to the virus that causes COVID-19 and is NOT a sign of cancer. However, these swollen lymph nodes could cause a false reading on a mammogram. This means that something looks abnormal on the test but doesn’t mean that you have cancer. To avoid these false readings, you should get your mammogram before the vaccine or wait 4-6 weeks after your vaccine to get your screening, or annual mammogram. If your doctor is ordering a test because you have breast cancer, or because a previous test looking for breast cancer was abnormal, you should not delay your test. Tell your doctor when you had your shot so that they are aware.
Yes. Pregnant people are especially at risk for poor outcomes from COVID-19 disease. Getting vaccinated is the best way to reduce the chance of complications for pregnant people and the fetus. The vaccine is recommended for people who are pregnant, breastfeeding, trying to get pregnant now, or might become pregnant in the future.
Pregnant and recently pregnant people are more likely to get severely ill from COVID-19 compared to people who are not pregnant.
COVID-19 during pregnancy also increases the risk of delivering a preterm (earlier than 37 weeks) or stillborn infant. Babies born to women who had COVID-19 during pregnancy have an increased risk of admission to a neonatal intensive care unit (NICU).
COVID-19 may pass to the fetus during pregnancy, but this is rare. More commonly, COVID-19 infection in a pregnant person can lead to growth restriction, premature birth, post-birth hospitalization, or stillbirth in the infant as well as medical complications for the birthing person.
Getting vaccinated is the best way to prevent severe complications for both the birthing person and baby. The vaccine is recommended for people who are pregnant, breastfeeding, trying to get pregnant now, or might become pregnant in the future.
Infants born to people with COVID-19 have increased risk of prematurity, stillbirth, and ICU admission.
Getting vaccinated is the best way to prevent these complications. The vaccine is recommended for people who are pregnant, breastfeeding, trying to get pregnant now, or might become pregnant in the future.
COVID-19 does not pass through breast milk and does not cause infection in the baby. You should continue to breastfeed your baby while you have COVID-19 but be sure to take precautions including wearing a masking, washing hands, and sterilizing pumping equipment.
Masking is no longer a requirement in Philadelphia. However, masking is still an important tool to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 and other respiratory viruses. You may decide to wear a mask or respirator (like an N95 or KN95) when you are indoors in public settings. Some instances where you may want to wear a mask include:
Any time you or a family member are going to be around people more vulnerable to COVID, such as the unvaccinated, the elderly, or those with health risks.
When students and staff return after having a COVID-19 infection or exposure they must mask in accordance with CDC guidelines. Schools may set their own, more restrictive, mask policies.
It is strongly encouraged that students and teachers continue to keep each other safe by wearing a mask at specific times, such as after an extended break/holiday or after a gathering such as a prom or other indoor event.
No. Someone with COVID-19 may unknowingly spread it while wearing this type of mask. That’s because these masks are designed to help you exhale more easily. But the valve/vent allows you to breathe out unfiltered air. These masks do not protect other people in your vicinity from your respiratory droplets. Read the CDC’s guidance about the use and care of masks.
When can employees who have had COVID-19 or possible COVID-19 return to work safely?
People who have COVID-19 or suspected COVID-19 infection should stay out of work until all of the following are true:
It has been at least five days after the onset of symptoms AND
They have been fever-free without fever-reducing medications for 24 hours AND
Their symptoms are improving.
Masks MUST be worn at all times upon return to work for another five days.
Please do not require proof of COVID-19 testing either to qualify for sick leave or to return to work. Tests can remain positive for weeks after infection due to dead virus remaining in the body, but this does not mean that people are contagious.
If you have been exposed to someone with COVID-19 you should immediately take precautions (mask around others) and test on or after day five. If your test result is positive, you must isolate. For more information, see Isolation, exposure, and testing guidance (PDF).
While isolating, you should wear a well-fitting mask anytime you are around others. Although you may leave isolation after five days if you are fever free and symptoms are improving, you should continue to wear a well-fitting mask for an additional five days at home when around others.
If you are at risk for severe disease or are over 50, talk to your provider about antiviral treatments as soon as you have symptoms or test positive. Antiviral pills (like Paxlovid) can significantly reduce your risk of hospitalization and death but must be taken within 5 days of illness onset, and as soon as possible, to be effective.
People who should be tested include:
People who have been exposed to someone with COVID-19.
Most people with breathing problems and asthma are able to wear masks comfortably to protect themselves at times of high risk. These individuals are at higher risk from severe outcomes from COVID-19 infection and should wear masks in times of high risk. Someone who is actively having trouble breathing such as an asthma attack should take off their face mask and use their asthma medication or get medical attention if needed.
Anyone who is in isolation or quarantine should try to stay away from other people in the home. Only one person should take care of the person who is isolating. This person should take precautions around the sick person including wearing a mask and washing hands after being in contact.
We strongly recommend getting vaccinated, as it significantly decreases the chance of severe COVID-19 disease. Vaccination is the best way to protect yourself from COVID-19-related hospitalization and death.
If you do not get vaccinated, you put not only yourself at risk, but also those you love or care about. Getting a COVID-19 vaccine is a safer choice.
COVID-19 vaccines are part of the Vaccines for Children (VFC) program and continue to be free for all children up to age 18. For adults, vaccines will be covered by insurance. Uninsured and underinsured people will still have access to vaccine through a federal program and can get vaccinated at their provider’s office.
Yes. Even if you already have had COVID-19, you can get it again, and studies show worse outcomes with repeat infections. Getting vaccinated may also help protect against Long COVID.
However, if you recently had COVID-19, you must first complete your isolation period. See above, Should I get the vaccine if my blood test is positive for COVID-19 antibodies?
If you were treated for COVID-19 illness with convalescent plasma, you do not need to wait to get a COVID-19 vaccine. Please talk to your doctor if you have questions about the treatments you received.
No vaccine can protect 100% against infection. For most people with two original and one updated vaccine, there is good protection against severe disease. The Health Department recommends everyone receive all vaccines for which they are eligible. It’s important to stay up to date, especially for those at increased risk (advanced age or medical conditions).
Before a vaccine is emergency authorized or approved by both the FDA and the CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP), it must first be tested in clinical trials with thousands of volunteers that are followed for at least two months after completing the series. In the case of the mRNA COVID-19 vaccines this group included almost 40,000 people. After many years of studying vaccine science, we know that almost all vaccine associated adverse events occur within six weeks.
There is also continued monitoring for very rare side effects when the vaccine is in widespread use both by passive monitoring (reporting from the public and health care providers) and active monitoring (mining electronic health records data to look for safety signals).
More than 600 million doses of mRNA (the most common) COVID-19 vaccine have been administered in the U.S. alone with clear benefit to vaccination over getting sick. Although there is a small risk of post-vaccine myocarditis in young males, the risk of myocarditis is significantly higher in COVID-19 illness and the condition tends to be more severe and longer lasting than what is seen with vaccination.
Having a safe and effective vaccine is a top priority in Philadelphia. Approving vaccines as safe, and making sure they work, is the responsibility of the FDA and CDC. The CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) and other groups look at information about a vaccine and make informed decisions about the risks and benefits of using it. In addition to these groups, the Health Department is committed to making a vaccine available only after we are confident that it is safe and effective.
The large clinical trials for Pfizer and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines included about 3,000 Black or African American participants each, about 10% of the total. In these trials, efficacy of the vaccine was consistent across demographic groups and there were no safety concerns when these groups were individually analyzed.
No. There is no living COVID-19 virus in the vaccines now available, and it will not give you COVID-19 infection. Receiving the vaccine, however, will greatly reduce your chances of getting very sick or dying from COVID-19 in the future.
COVID-19 vaccination is not mandatory in Philadelphia. Individual organizations and businesses may require employees to get vaccinated in order to work at these establishments. In addition, all healthcare workers must be vaccinated. If you have concerns about receiving the vaccine, please discuss them with your healthcare provider or contact the Health Department.
Get vaccinated. Vaccination is the safest and most effective way to stop the spread of the COVID-19 virus.
Screen yourself and other travelers in your group for symptoms of COVID-19. Do not travel if you are feeling ill or have any COVID-like symptoms, which you can find in the questions below.
Test yourself before and after traveling to screen for infection. Although not required, testing can help ensure your infection is identified early and does not spread to those around you.
Check your airline carrier for individual requirements prior to travel for additional information. Your carrier will have the most up-to-date information for your trip. Any links provided are subject to change.
Wear a face mask completely covering your mouth and nose. The Health Department strongly recommends wearing a mask.
Do I need to wear a face mask on public transportation?
Masks are not required on public transportation. The CDC continues to recommend that people wear masks when using public transportation or waiting for it indoors, especially if hospitalizations are high in your area. Masks should completely cover the mouth and nose and fit snugly against the sides of the face.