Goodman Community Center | COVID-19 FAQs with UW Health's James…
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COVID-19 FAQs with UW Health's James Bigham MD, MPH

Common questions answered about the COVID-19 vaccine and current wave of omicron-variant COVID-19.

January 19, 2022 |
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Our Older Adult Program Manager Gayle Laszewski recently worked with UW Health Family Medicine Physician James Bigham MD, MPH to create some helpful FAQs about the COVID-19 vaccine and current wave of omicron-variant COVID-19. Although intended for our older adults, we want to share these FAQs with anyone looking for more information on best ways to protect yourself, your family and your community.

Why should I get vaccinated or boosted?

Getting vaccinated for COVID-19

All of the COVID vaccines approved for use in the US are proven to be extremely effective at preventing severe disease, hospitalization, and death. Current research shows that people who are vaccinated are:

  • 4 times less likely to catch COVID-19
  • 13 times less likely to die from COVID-19

Why do some people get COVID-19 even if they are vaccinated?

All COVID-19 vaccines approved for use in the United States are proven effective to help prevent infection, but they are not perfect. The most recent type of COVID-19 (Omicron) is much more infectious than other types and may still cause an infection in some individuals who have been fully vaccinated. Vaccines are still the best tool we have for reducing your risk for getting infected AND more importantly, reducing your risk for severe illness or death.

How long is COVID-19 contagious?

Typically, 10 days. For most individuals, this would be 10 days from the time symptoms start or if you test positive for COVID-19.

What should I do if I test positive for COVID-19?

Regardless of your vaccination status, it’s important to stay home for 5 days, isolate yourself from others in your home, and follow the guidelines below.

For people who have COVID-19 but no symptoms

  • Stay home and isolate from others for 5 days.
  • Then use a mask for another 5 days when around others (through day 10).

For people who have COVID-19 and have symptoms

  • Stay home and isolate from others for 5 days.
  • After 5 days, if fever free for 24 hours without use of a fever lowering medication AND symptoms are improving, you can stop isolation.
  • Then use a mask for another 5 days when around others (through day 10).

For people who have COVID-19 and severe illness

  • Isolate for 10 days, and contact your healthcare team about when to end isolation.

Can you get more than one type (variant) of COVID-19 at a time?

Yes, this is called a super-infection. Vaccination can help prevent this and will certainly help reduce the risk of severe illness in the event of a super-infection.

“I started to think of the vaccine less as protecting myself and more about it being a duty to my community. All of this helps support your community. Helps support your family.”

If I test positive for COVID-19, who should I tell?

It’s important to notify anyone you came in contact with in the past 24 hours. That includes your workplace, school, community center, etc.

  • A contact is someone you have been with within 6 feet distance for 15 minutes or longer.
  • Ideally, it’s best to notify anyone you have been in contact with in the past 72 hours before you tested positive or developed symptoms. It’s possible to shed the virus before you know you have COVID-19.

What should I do if I am exposed to someone with COVID-19?

It depends upon whether or not you have been vaccinated (another reason to get vaccinated) and if you have had a COVID-19 infection in the last 90 days.

If you are not vaccinated:

  • Stay home and quarantine for at least 5 days. Get tested at day 5 (sooner if you develop symptoms). Watch for symptoms for 10 days AND wear a mask for 10 days when around others. If you develop symptoms, isolate and get tested. Avoid high-risk individuals.

If you are fully vaccinated:

  • No quarantine needed if you have no symptoms. Get tested at day 5 (sooner if you develop symptoms). Watch for symptoms for 10 days AND wear a mask for 10 days when around others. Avoid high-risk individuals.

If you had COVID-19 in the last 90 days:

  • No quarantine needed. No testing unless symptoms develop. Watch for symptoms for 10 days AND wear a mask for 10 days when around others. Avoid high risk individuals.

If I have COVID-19, am I now immune at the same level as the vaccine?

No. Research indicates that individuals who get COVID-19 have at least 90 days of protection from getting infected with COVID-19 again. However, immunity is not permanent AND it does not last as long as a vaccine.

  • After 90 days, if an individual is not fully vaccinated, they would be considered at risk again for COVID-19 infection.

Source: Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC), UW School of Medicine & Public Health

This information is provided as an educational service to our community. It's current as of 1/15/2022. Please consult with your healthcare provider if you have additional questions or concerns.

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