COVID-19 FAQs

COVID-19 Questions & Answers

Following are answers from Mercy experts to some of the most common questions about the COVID-19 virus, vaccine, vaccination appointments and caring for children. We’ll continue to update these as new information becomes available.

Mercy is offering booster doses of the COVID-19 vaccine for moderately to severely immunocompromised individuals ages 12 and older, individuals ages 65 and older, individuals 18-64 with chronic conditions and individuals 18-64 with occupational risk. 

 

Immunocompromised individuals seeking a booster dose of the COVID-19 vaccine must have a medical condition or currently receiving treatment for:
 

  • Active treatment for solid tumor and hematologic malignancies
  • Receipt of solid-organ transplant and taking immunosuppressive therapy
  • Receipt of CAR-T-cell or hematopoietic stem cell transplant (within 2 years of transplantation or taking immunosuppression therapy)
  • Moderate or severe primary immunodeficiency
  • Advanced or untreated HIV infection
  • Active treatment with high-dose corticosteroids, alkylating agents, antimetabolites, transplant-related immunosuppressive drugs, cancer chemotherapeutic agents classified as severely immunosuppressive, TNF blockers, and other biologic agents that are immunosuppressive or immunomodulatory. A link to a list of medications that would indicate eligibility can be found here.
     

Individuals considered to be moderately to severely immunocompromised who have been vaccinated with the two-dose series of Pfizer or Moderna vaccine should receive the same vaccine for their third dose at least 28 days after completion of their initial two-dose COVID-19 vaccine series. Johnson & Johnson is not included in the booster recommendation for immunocompromised individuals.

 

Individuals ages 18-64, who qualify for a booster dose of the COVID-19 vaccine due to chronic conditions or occupational risk and received the two-dose series of Pfizer vaccine, should receive their booster dose at least 6 months after their initial two-dose Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine series. Moderna and Johnson & Johnson are not included in the booster recommendations for individuals with chronic conditions or occupational risk.
 

Individuals ages 12-17 should only schedule appointments at locations providing the Pfizer vaccine and a parent or guardian must be present to be vaccinated.

Mercy is offering COVID-19 vaccine appointments to anyone age 12 and older in most of the communities we serve. We encourage you to schedule a COVID-19 vaccine appointment at the location nearest you. Patients ages 12-17 should only schedule appointments at locations providing the Pfizer vaccine and a parent or guardian must be present to be vaccinated.

If you schedule your COVID-19 vaccine appointment through mercy.net, your appointment information will be available on the final screen where you confirm your appointment. If you are a MyMercy user, your appointment will be accessible in MyMercy and you will receive appointment reminders through MyMercy.

Please bring a valid ID and insurance card. Patients under the age of 18 must have a parent or guardian present to be vaccinated. If you are able to do so, please print, complete and bring your consent form to your appointment.

 

The COVID-19 vaccination is administered as a shot in the arm. There are currently three vaccines available; the Pfizer vaccine has received full FDA approval, while Moderna and Johnson & Johnson have Emergency Use Authorization (EUA). Both Pfizer and Moderna require a second dose to be fully effective. Current guidance recommends 21-28 days between the first and second vaccines.

 

Following your COVID-19 vaccination, you will be monitored for a reaction for 15 to 30 minutes at the vaccine clinic. Information will be provided on how to report side effects after you leave. In the rare event you develop a severe allergic reaction after leaving, go to your nearest emergency room or call 911.

To cancel or reschedule your COVID-19 vaccine appointment with Mercy, please call 833-364-6777 and follow the prompts. If you request to reschedule, a Mercy team member will call you to schedule your new appointment time.

 

If you provided a cell phone number when you registered for your vaccine appointment, you’ll receive a text message within 24 hours of your appointment giving you the option to confirm, reschedule or cancel your appointment via text message. If you request to reschedule, a Mercy team member will call you to schedule your new appointment time.

 

If you provided a landline number when you registered for your vaccine appointment, you’ll receive a phone call within 24 hours of your appointment giving you the option to confirm, reschedule or cancel your appointment. If you request to reschedule, a Mercy team member will call you to schedule your new appointment time.

Mercy cannot replace your vaccine card, but you can retrieve your vaccination verification through MyMercy or by contacting the medical records department in your community.

 

Log into your MyMercy account from your web browser or mobile app (please be sure your app is updated to the latest available version) and do the following:

 

  1. Click “menu” at the top left of the screen
  2. Under My Record, click “COVID-19”
  3. Download your vaccination record
  4. Print or screenshot this page to use as verification for your vaccination.

 

If you received your COVID-19 vaccination at Mercy and do not have an existing MyMercy account, visit MyMercy.net to setup your MyMercy account using your patient information. Once your account is setup, login and follow the steps above.

 

If you have difficulty setting up your account, please call 888-986-3729 for technical support.

 

If you are unable to setup a MyMercy account, please contact the Mercy medical records department* in your community to get a copy of your immunization records.

 

*There may be a cost associated with any records provided by Mercy’s medical records department.

Yes. You won’t be charged for the COVID-19 vaccine, but state guidelines allow Mercy to charge health plans a small fee to cover the costs of providing staff and space for vaccination clinics.

While the first COVID-19 vaccines are new to people, they are based on science that is more than 30 years old. These vaccines provide our bodies with only part of the genetic code of COVID (not a full weakened or dead virus-like some vaccines). From that code, our bodies produce proteins that are harmless on their own, but they allow our immune systems to produce antibodies in response. Those antibodies will then be able to recognize and attack COVID-19 if we're exposed and it’s introduced into our body.

Yes. Due to serious health risks with the virus and the possibility of reinfection, the CDC says you should get vaccinated even if you have previously had COVID-19. Ask your Mercy provider about timing based on how long you’ve been symptom-free.

Any vaccine or medication can cause side effects. You may experience common side effects from the COVID-19 vaccine such as swelling and sore arm where you got the shot along with an overall low-grade fever, chills, tiredness or headache that goes away within a few days. These symptoms are normal and are a sign that the body is building immunity. Safety is the top priority of any vaccine. Early results from the first COVID-19 vaccines tested in people show they worked as intended with no serious side effects. Talk with your Mercy provider about any specific concerns you may have.

Until we have more data on how well the COVID-19 vaccines work, we won’t know how long immunity lasts after vaccination. Experts are working to learn more about both vaccine-induced immunity and natural immunity. The CDC will provide updates as new information becomes available.

We won’t know how long immunity lasts until we have more data on how well it works over a longer period of time. The protection someone gains from having an infection (called natural immunity) varies depending on the disease, and it varies from person to person. Since this virus is new, we don’t know how long natural immunity might last.

COVID-19 vaccination is recommended for all people aged 12 years and older, including people who are pregnant, breastfeeding, trying to get pregnant now, or who might become pregnant in the future. Pregnant women and those who were recently pregnant are more likely to get severely ill with COVID-19 compared with non-pregnant women. Getting a COVID-19 vaccine can protect you from severe illness from COVID-19. Talk with your Mercy provider about any specific concerns you may have.

Those with certain underlying medical conditions are at high risk for developing severe COVID-19 illness and, regardless of age, are a high priority group for receiving the vaccine. Mercy providers will work to get you the best information so you can make an informed decision about the vaccine for yourself and your family.

Yes, the seasonal flu vaccine is unable to provide immunity against the COVID-19 virus.

On Monday, Aug. 23, the FDA announced full approval of the Pfizer vaccine. The Pfizer vaccine and other COVID-19 vaccines had already met the FDA’s rigorous, scientific standards for emergency use authorization (EUA).  COVID-19 vaccines have been proven effective in preventing serious illness and hospitalizations from COVID-19.

The CDC still recommends wearing a mask, proper handwashing and social distancing after COVID-19 vaccination. Additionally, the annual flu vaccination is still recommended. This guidance may change with more data about how effective the vaccine is over the long term.

COVID-19 vaccines help protect kids from getting infected with the virus that causes COVID-19. The vaccine also helps keep them from getting seriously ill if they do get the virus. And getting vaccinated helps prevent kids from spreading COVID-19 to others in their families and schools.

All kids age 12 and older should get a COVID-19 vaccine. If your child isn’t vaccinated yet, talk with their Mercy doctor about getting it done as soon as possible.

Yes. COVID-19 vaccination provides kids with safe and effective protection against the virus. COVID-19 vaccines have been used under the most intensive safety monitoring in U.S. history. The Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine is now available to kids ages 12 and older.

 

In a clinical trial for kids ages 12-15, no safety concerns were identified with the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine. The trial also showed the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine was 100% effective at preventing infection with the virus in kids ages 12-15. In addition, children’s immune systems responded to the vaccine similarly to older teens and young adults. To get the most protection, kids need two shots given three weeks (21 days) apart.

Yes. Your child can get a COVID-19 vaccine and other vaccines during the same visit. The body’s immune response and possible side effects are generally the same when the COVID-19 vaccine is given alone or with other vaccines. Talk with your health care provider to learn more.

CDC guidelines say kids who are vaccinated don’t need to quarantine if exposed to COVID-19, as long as they stay symptom-free. 

 

Source: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/downloads/vaccines/toolkits/COVID-19-Vaccine-for-Preteens_Teens-508.pdf

Novel Coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19) is a respiratory illness that can spread from person to person, mainly when they are in close contact with one another (less than six feet).  When an infected person coughs or sneezes, this spreads respiratory droplets that can then infect another person nearby.  It also may be possible that a person can get COVID-19 by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose or possibly their eyes, but this is not thought to be the main way the virus spreads. Some recent studies also have suggested that COVID-19 may be spread by people who are not showing symptoms.

90% of COVID-19 patients will have a fever and 70% will have a dry cough. Some will have diarrhea, although by itself this is not usually a sign of COVID-19.  Those who become acutely ill will experience shortness of breath.
 

Most patients who have the virus will have symptoms but in most cases (about 80%) the symptoms will be mild.  People who are older, have chronic diseases or have a weakened immune system are at higher risk of complications if infected.
 

If you have difficulty breathing - call ahead to your nearest emergency room and let them know your symptoms and that you’re on your way. That will help them prepare for your arrival.

Not everyone should be tested for COVID-19. If you are symptomatic, you should also stay home and away from others and take care of yourself as you would with other viruses. If you are experiencing worsening symptoms, please contact your primary physician’s office.

People can help protect themselves from respiratory illnesses like COVID-19 with everyday preventive actions.
 

  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick, even inside your home.

    • If possible, maintain 6 feet between the person who is sick and other household members.
       
  • Put distance between yourself and other people outside of your home.

    • Stay at least 6 feet (about 2 arms’ length) from other people.
    • Do not gather in groups.
    • Stay out of crowded places and avoid mass gatherings.
       
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a cloth face cover when around others.

    • Everyone should wear a cloth face cover when they have to go out in public, for example to the grocery store or to pick up other necessities.
    • Cloth face coverings should not be placed on young children under age 2, anyone who has trouble breathing, or is unconscious, incapacitated or otherwise unable to remove the mask without assistance.
    • The cloth face cover is meant to protect other people in case you are infected.
    • Do NOT use a facemask meant for a health care worker, i.e. an N95 mask.
    • Continue to keep about six feet between yourself and others. The cloth face cover is not a substitute for social distancing.
    • Avoid touching the mask with your hands.
       
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth, especially with unwashed hands.

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.

  • Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol if soap and water are not available.

  • Clean AND disinfect frequently touched surfaces daily. This includes tables, doorknobs, light switches, countertops, handles, desks, phones, keyboards, toilets, faucets, and sinks.
     

If you are sick, to keep from spreading respiratory illness to others, you should:
 

  • Stay home when you are sick.

    • As much as possible, stay in a specific room and away from other people and pets in your home. Here is additional guidance from the Centers for Disease Control.
       
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.

  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.

This information changes daily, so please visit the Centers for Disease Control website for the most up-to-date COVID-19 information. 

According to the World Health Organization, people with mild forms of COVID-19 recover in about two weeks, while people with severe or critical forms of COVID-19 recover within three to six weeks.

No. This is a pandemic that will continue until a large percentage of the population is inoculated. The best ways to keep yourself safe are:
 

  • Stay home unless you absolutely have to go out.
  • Wear a mask any time you are in public.
  • Practice social distancing, that is, stay at least six feet away from others.
  • Perform hand hygiene frequently.

All Mercy locations and services are now open, with strict standards to keep patients and caregivers safe. Please bring a cloth mask with you and wear it from the time you enter the facility until you leave. This is not only for your protection but for that of the other patients and caregivers around you.

For your convenience and comfort, we also offer video visits. Meet with a primary care provider or specialist on your phone, tablet, laptop or desktop computer. Existing patients can schedule a video visit through MyMercy. If you don’t currently have a MyMercy account, you can quickly create one.

The seasonal flu affects tens of thousands of Americans each year and this year, it is possible to get the flu at the same time as COVID-19. Protecting yourself and others is more important than ever. Please do your part by getting a flu shot and following other CDC guidelines. Learn more about the flu and schedule an appointment for your flu shot.

COVID-19 is a respiratory virus that usually causes mild symptoms in kids. However, emergencies can occur. Seek care immediately if your child develops the following symptoms:
 

  • Fever higher than 100.4⁰ in a baby less than 8 weeks old or a child with a weakened immune system
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing (such as breathing very quickly or using extra muscles in the chest or neck to take breaths)
  • Dehydration (not drinking, not keeping fluids down, or not urinating at least once every six hours)
  • Neck stiffness
  • Not responding appropriately

For most kids, the symptoms of COVID-19 are similar to other respiratory illnesses. Here are the common signs and ways parents can help:
 

  • Fever – fever is defined as a temperature of 100.4⁰ or higher. In most viral infections, fever is common and isn’t dangerous. It’s a sign your child’s immune system is responding to an infection. Treat fever with ibuprofen (for children older than 6 months) or acetaminophen (for children older than 2 months). For babies, a fever lasting more than 3–5 days should be evaluated for another infection like an ear infection or pneumonia. Learn more about fevers and taking accurate temperatures.

  • Chills – chills (shivering) may occur with an infection and is common with fever. Ibuprofen (for children older than 6 months) or acetaminophen (for children older than 2 months) can help.

  • Runny nose or congestion – many respiratory infections cause runny nose and congestion, including COVID-19. Tips for managing hygiene and symptoms include: 
    • Encourage kids to sneeze into the bends of their elbows (not into their hands).
    • Older kids may use tissues, but they should throw them away immediately.
    • Clear nasal passages in babies and young children using saline drops or spray, plus suction.
    • Use a humidifier in kids’ rooms.
       
  • Cough – cough is a common COVID-19 symptom. Cough suppressant medication isn’t recommended for kids. Other ways to help include:
    • Encourage kids to cough into the bends of their elbows (not into their hands).
    • Give older kids cough drops or lozenges.
    • Keep kids hydrated.
    • Use a humidifier in kids’ rooms.
    • Clear nasal passages in babies and young children using saline drops or spray, plus suction.
    • Give children older than 1 year a spoonful of honey, which can help coat the throat and suppress the cough. Babies shouldn’t be given honey.
       
  • New loss of taste and/or smell – this symptom is very specific to COVID-19. Kids with this symptom should be evaluated by a Mercy provider, tested for COVID-19 and should quarantine. In most cases, taste and smell return to normal over time.

  • Sore throat – treat with ibuprofen (for children older than 6 months) or acetaminophen (for children older than 2 months). Keeping kids hydrated will also help. A sore throat lasting more than a few days might need to be evaluated or tested for other infections like strep throat.

  • Body and muscle aches – treat with ibuprofen (for children older than 6 months) or acetaminophen (for children older than 2 months).

  • Headache – treat with ibuprofen (for children older than 6 months) or acetaminophen (for children older than 2 months).

  • Nausea or vomiting – ways to treat nausea or vomiting symptoms include:
    • Encourage plenty of liquids in small sips versus large volumes.
    • It’s OK if your child has less of an appetite but watch for signs of dehydration. Call your child’s Mercy provider with any concerns.
       
  • Diarrhea – anti-diarrheal medication isn’t recommended for kids. Encourage plenty of fluids, and call your child’s Mercy provider with any concerns.

Asthma and COVID-19 both affect the lungs, so it’s important to keep your child’s asthma well-controlled. Continue following your child’s asthma action plan and contact their Mercy provider with any concerns. Make sure you have enough asthma medication and supplies and work with your child’s doctor if you need refills. Experts say using a nebulizer may increase the amount of virus in the air if your child has COVID-19, potentially spreading the virus to others more easily. Talk with your Mercy provider about whether an inhaler is appropriate for your child.

If your child has a fever or other COVID-19 symptoms, you can schedule a video visit or in-person visit with your Mercy provider for evaluation and testing based on their recommendation. Your child may need a follow-up visit if symptoms persist. Viral infections can sometimes progress to infections that need treatment with antibiotics, such as a sinus infection, ear infection or pneumonia.

While most kids with COVID-19 have mild symptoms that get better on their own, a very small percentage can develop a condition known as multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children (MIS-C). This syndrome causes inflammation that can lead to lasting organ damage, especially to the heart. Symptoms can develop within four weeks of exposure to the new COVID-19. MIS-C seems to affect children ages 2 to 15 and hasn’t been reported in babies. Fortunately, MIS-C is treatable with medications. Kids with potential MIS-C symptoms should be seen by a Mercy provider. Symptoms include a fever higher than 100.4⁰ in addition to any of the following symptoms:
 

  • Weakness and fatigue
  • Red rash
  • Abdominal pain
  • Vomiting and diarrhea
  • Red, cracked lips
  • Red eyes
  • Swollen hands or feet

When a child has COVID-19, here are some ways others in the household can protect themselves:
 

  • Wear a mask or face covering over the nose and mouth when close to a sick child.
  • Clean counters, doorknobs, phones and tablets frequently with disinfectant cleaners or wipes.
  • Avoid sharing things like utensils and towels with a child who is ill.
  • Wash your hands for at least 20 seconds after sneezing, blowing your nose, coughing or using the bathroom, and before preparing or eating food.
  • Cough or sneeze into the bends of your elbows.
  • After using tissues, throw them away immediately.

Do the following to help your family members avoid the COVID-19 virus:
 

  • Stay home as much as possible.
  • If you must go out, avoid crowds and large gatherings.
  • Wear a mask or face covering anywhere outside your home.
  • At home, clean often-touched surfaces such as doors and doorknobs, cabinet handles, bathroom hardware, tabletops, phones, tablets and keyboards regularly with disinfectant.
  • Practice good hand hygiene.

Many schools and daycare facilities require release-from-quarantine letters from a physician or public health department before kids can return. Children who become severely ill from COVID-19 or who have weakened immune systems may need to quarantine differently. Contact your child’s Mercy provider for more information.

Contact your Mercy OB/GYN to discuss the appropriate schedule and location for your prenatal visits. This will vary depending on your stage of pregnancy and health. 


To help prevent the spread of COVID-19, please wear a mask to your appointment. All Mercy Clinic locations are limiting visitors to one per patient. These temporary visitor limits are in place for the safety of our patients, care teams and communities. 

Rest assured Mercy is following all guidelines to protect you and your baby during childbirth. We're taking measures like isolating patients who test positive for the virus, screening patients and visitors at hospital entrances and limiting visitors.
 

In addition, all Mercy caregivers must pass daily screenings and use personal protective equipment (PPE) while on duty. Mercy also supports the early discharge recommendations from the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists when both mother and baby are healthy.

Doulas are considered part of your healthcare team and do not count as a visitor.
 

*Exceptions apply in our Joplin/Carthage, Ada and Ardmore communities. 

You're allowed two support people during childbirth. After delivery, the additional support person must leave. Both people in your support team must be at least 18 years old and must be symptom-free.  For safety reasons, your main support person must be the same person throughout your stay. Your support person will be screened at the hospital entrance each time they enter.

 

*Exceptions apply in our Joplin/Carthage, Ada and Ardmore communities.