COVID-19 Frequently Asked Questions

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

COVID-19 Vaccine Appointment FAQs

Can I make an appointment to get the COVID-19 vaccine?

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 must have a parent or guardian present to be vaccinated.

I think I’ve scheduled an appointment but I haven’t gotten any notifications and I can't see the appointment on MyMercy. What's wrong?

If you schedule your appointment through, 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.

What do I need to bring to my appointment?

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 and complete your consent form and bring to your appointment:

How will the COVID-19 vaccine be given?

The COVID-19 vaccination is administered as a shot in the arm. Of the three vaccines that are currently available for Emergency Use Authorization (EUA), two require a second dose to be fully effective. Current guidance recommends 21-28 days between the first and second vaccinations.

Who do I call if I have a reaction?

You’ll 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.

How can I cancel or reschedule my COVID-19 vaccine appointment?

To cancel or reschedule your vaccine appointment with Mercy, please call 833-364-6777 and follow the prompts to cancel or reschedule your appointment. 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 land line 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.

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COVID-19 Vaccine FAQs

Who will get the COVID-19 vaccine first?

Healthcare workers will be prioritized to get the vaccine for the protection of our patients, Mercy co-workers, physicians and the community. Residents of long-term care facilities have also been prioritzed by the CDC.

Is the COVID-19 vaccine free?

Yes. You won’t be charged for the 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.

How does the COVID-19 vaccine work?

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.

Who should get the COVID-19 vaccine?

Everyone should get vaccinated against COVID-19. The vaccine will be a major factor in reducing the public health threat posed by the pandemic and will ultimately save lives and reduce hospitalizations. We will follow CDC guidelines to distribute the vaccine in a fair, ethical and transparent way.

I’ve had COVID-19 and recovered. Should I still get the vaccine?

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

Are there side effects to the COVID-19 vaccine?

Any vaccine or medication can cause side effects. You may experience common side effects 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.

How long does immunity last after I’m vaccinated for COVID-19?

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.

What are the long-term effects of the COVID-19 vaccine?

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.

Should I get the COVID-19 vaccine if I'm pregnant?

Pregnant women were not part of clinical trials, but experts cited real-world examples to explain their confidence in vaccine safety. In accordance with the FDA and CDC guidance, healthcare workers who are pregnant or breastfeeding may receive the vaccine at their own discretion. Talk with your Mercy provider about any specific concerns you may have. 

What if you have another condition – can you get the COVID-19 vaccine?

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.

Do I need the COVID-19 vaccine if I have the flu vaccine?

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

Should we wait to see if it’s effective before getting the COVID-19 vaccine?

These vaccines have been proven effective and are available for use with Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) from the FDA. When the FDA grants EUA, it’s in the absence of adequate, approved, or available alternatives to prevent serious or life-threatening diseases, including public health emergencies like the COVID-19 pandemic.

Can I stop wearing a mask and social distancing after I've been fully vaccinated against COVID-19?

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

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COVID-19 Virus FAQs

What is COVID-19 a.k.a. Coronavirus and how does it spread?

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.

What are the symptoms? 

90% of patients will have 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.

I want to get tested. Where can I go to do that? 

Not everyone should be tested. 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 of symptoms, please contact your primary physician’s office.

How can I help protect myself?

People can help protect themselves from respiratory illness 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.

How many cases are there?

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

How long does it last/how long does it take to recover?

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

Is the Coronavirus over?

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.

How does COVID-19 impact my upcoming appointment/procedure?

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.

Can I have COVID-19 and the flu at the same time? 

The seasonal flu affects tens of thousands of Americans each year. This year, it's 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.

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COVID-19 & Kids FAQs

What are emergency symptoms in kids with COVID-19?

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

What are non-emergency symptoms in kids, and what can parents do about them?

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 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 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.

If my child has asthma, what should I know during the COVID-19 pandemic?

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.

When should I schedule a sick visit for my 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.

What is multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children (MIS-C)?

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). The 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 plus any of the following:

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

How do I keep the rest of my family safe when my child has COVID-19?

Here are some ways others in the household can protect themselves when kids have COVID-19:

  • 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 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.

How can families avoid infection with COVID-19?

  • Do the following to help your family members avoid the 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.

When can kids return to school or daycare after they’ve had COVID-19?

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.

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Visitor Restrictions

COVID-19 Birthplace Update

Changes have been made at Mercy Birthplace locations to protect our patients, the community and our co-workers. Read our COVID-19 Birthplace FAQs.