Frequently Asked Questions
It can be difficult to understand all the facts about COVID-19. There can be lots of misinformation, and we are learning more about the virus as we go. Below are frequently asked questions that can help you better understand the risks of the virus and how to best protect yourself and your community.
The following links will take you directly to each section:
FAQs about Maryland COVID-19 Vaccinations
– Trending Questions and Answers
– COVID-19 Vaccines
– Eligibility for COVID-19 Vaccine
– Pediatric COVID-19 Vaccinations
– COVID-19 Boosters
– Registering for a COVID-19 Vaccine
– Post COVID-19 Vaccination
If you have questions about COVID-19 that are not answered here, call your local health department or dial 2-1-1.
FAQs about COVID-19
What is COVID-19?
COVID-19 is a disease caused by a virus called SARS-CoV-2. Most people with COVID-19 have mild symptoms, but some people become severely ill. Older adults and people who have certain underlying medical conditions are more likely to get severely ill. Post-COVID conditions are a wide range of health problems people can experience four or more weeks after first getting COVID-19. Even those who do not become severely ill from COVID-19 may experience post-COVID conditions.
What is the current COVID-19 situation in Maryland?
What are risk factors for serious illness from COVID-19?
Everyone is at risk for COVID-19. However, symptoms can range from mild to severe and may have different complications for each person. Older people, age 60 and above, and those with pre-existing medical conditions have a higher risk for serious illness from COVID-19. Examples of pre-existing medical conditions include cancer, diabetes, heart disease or other conditions impacting the immune system’s ability to fight germs.
While older people and those with pre-existing conditions are at a higher risk, current MDH data shows that the majority of infections are in adults under 60 years of age. People of all ages need to practice social distancing to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
How does COVID-19 spread?
COVID-19 spreads when an infected person breathes out droplets and very small particles that contain the virus. These droplets and particles can be breathed in by other people or land on their eyes, noses, or mouth. In some circumstances, they may contaminate surfaces they touch. People who are closer than 6 feet from the infected person are most likely to get infected.
COVID-19 is spread in three main ways:
- Breathing in air when close to an infected person who is exhaling small droplets and particles that contain the virus.
- Having these small droplets and particles that contain virus land on the eyes, nose, or mouth, especially through splashes and sprays like a cough or sneeze.
- Touching eyes, nose, or mouth with hands that have the virus on them.
What are the symptoms of COVID-19?
Symptoms, or combinations of symptoms, that may appear 2-14 days after exposure include:
- Fever or chills
- Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
- Muscle or body aches
- New loss of taste or smell
- Sore throat
- Congestion or runny nose
- Nausea or vomiting
What should I do if I think I am sick with COVID-19?
If you become sick with fever, cough or have difficulty breathing, contact your health care provider, especially if you are over 60 years of age or have pre-existing medical conditions. If you do not have a health care provider, contact your local health department. Follow these steps:
- Call your health care provider, local health department or emergency room before you go
- Tell them about your symptoms, any recent travel and close contacts (such as people in your household)
- Wear a mask
If someone has COVID-19, what will happen to them?
The vast majority of people recover from this infection. Most people will have mild or moderate symptoms. Most people may be advised to recover at home and isolate themselves from others. These individuals should call their physicians or health care practitioners if their symptoms get worse.
Some COVID-19 infections can lead to serious illness, and in some cases death. If someone has a more serious illness from COVID-19, they may be admitted to the hospital.
Should I make plans to travel?
The CDC recommends people make sure they are up to date with their COVID-19 vaccines before travel.
Some people should not travel. People who are sick, have recently tested positive for the virus that causes COVID-19, or have been exposed to a person with COVID-19 pose a very high risk to others during travel.
If you are not fully vaccinated and must travel, take preventive measures to protect yourself and others, such as getting tested before and after travel and wearing a mask for the duration of your trip.
For additional travel resources and guidance, visit the CDC travel advisory site.
What can I do to protect myself and others?
Take preventive steps to slow the spread of COVID-19:
- Get vaccinated and boosted – Visit covidvax.maryland.gov to find a vaccination clinic near you
- Wash your hands often with soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds
- Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60 percent alcohol if soap and water are not available
- Cover your coughs and sneezes with a tissue, your sleeve or your elbow
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using standard cleaning practices
- Practice social distancing — keep distance between yourself and others and avoid crowds
- Cover your mouth and nose with a cloth face cover when around others
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick
- If you are sick, stay home, except when seeking medical care
What treatments are available for COVID-19?
If you recently tested positive for COVID-19, you may be eligible for treatment options to reduce the severity of the illness. Learn more about Treatment Options.
How can I be more prepared for COVID-19?
- Have an adequate supply of non-prescriptive drugs and other health supplies on hand, including pain relievers, stomach remedies, cough and cold medicines
- Check your regular prescription drugs to make sure you have an adequate supply; refill your prescriptions if needed
- Have a thermometer, tissues and hand sanitizer in case you become ill and must stay at home to recover
- Talk with family members and loved ones about how they would be cared for if they got sick and what will be needed to care for them at home
- Have a two-week supply of water and food available at home
Can I get tested for COVID-19?
Will the Maryland Department of Health test animals for coronavirus?
In accordance with current federal guidelines, the Maryland Department of Health will not be testing the general companion animal population. Based on the limited information available to date, the risk of animals spreading COVID-19 to people is considered to be low. Since the situation is ever-evolving, public and animal health officials may decide to test certain animals out of an abundance of caution. The decision to test will be made collaboratively between local, state and/or federal public and animal health officials.
Is there anything else I should know?
Do not stigmatize people of any specific ethnicities or racial background. Viruses do not target people from specific populations, ethnicities or racial backgrounds.
Stay informed and seek information from reliable, official sources. Be wary of myths, rumors and misinformation circulating online and elsewhere. Health information shared through social media is frequently inaccurate, unless coming from an official, reliable source such as the CDC, MDH or local health departments.
FAQs about COVID-19 Treatment Options
What COVID-19 treatment options are available?
Treatments for COVID-19 are now widely available, and include oral antivirals (pills) and monoclonal antibodies. COVID-19 medications are now available through your doctor, local pharmacies, and health clinics. If you have COVID-19 symptoms and test positive, do not wait to get treated. You must begin oral COVID-19 medication within 5 days of your first COVID-19 symptoms. Although these treatments are not cures, they may lessen the severity of symptoms and help keep high-risk patients out of the hospital.
Marylanders with symptoms can visit the State Center Vaccination, Testing, and Treatment Center for Test to Treat services Monday through Saturday, during testing hours. Test to Treat includes rapid testing and on-site clinical evaluation and COVID medication, depending on what treatment is appropriate for the person. These services are free to patients and insurance is not required.
More than 80 other Maryland pharmacies and health partners are participating in the federal Test to Treat (T2T) initiative to expand access to potentially life-saving COVID-19 treatments for all residents. To find a T2T location near you, visit the HHS Test to Treat Locator.
Marylanders who test positive for COVID at home can use the BCCFH COVID Task Force COVID Treatment Program. Using the simple online form, anyone can self refer and answer a few questions to learn if they are eligible for treatment. They will be given the option to schedule a telehealth or phone consultation through the site — and if treatment is recommended — receive a prescription filled at the nearest participating pharmacy to them. For more information about treatment options, including monoclonal antibodies, call 410-649-6200, the BCCFH Covid Task Force Call Center, for next steps.
What should I do to prepare for a COVID provider visit?
Before you see a provider to be evaluated, make a note of when your symptoms started, the date of your positive at-home covid test if you took one, and have a list of any current medications you are on so that your provider can check for dangerous interactions with COVID treatments.
How can I access telehealth to get a rapid clinical evaluation for treatments?
There are many telehealth options available through individual healthcare providers. There are also options available statewide for people without ready access to a primary care physician, including:
- The Baltimore Convention Center Field Hospital (BCCFH) – COVID Task Force: Maryland operates an outpatient COVID-19 treatment program with a self-referral telehealth COVID-19 treatment program for people who are not able to see a provider in a timely way. The BCCFH is able to guide patients through telehealth, prescriptions, or a referral for monoclonal antibody infusion at the BCCFH Infusion Center or at home. Call 410-649-6200, the BCCFH COVID Task Force Call Center, with questions. Services are at no charge to the patient.
- Medstar Health provides 24/7/365 access for acute conditions via MedStar eVisit for telehealth visits. The MedStar eVisit clinical team has significant COVID experience. Patients with symptoms, positive home COVID tests, or other concerns can be evaluated remotely and determine a plan for care, including prescribing medications, referral for monoclonal infusion or being directed to in-person care when needed. Visit MedStar Health E-visit or download the MedStar eVisit app from the Apple or Android app store. Most insurance is accepted to cover the visit; patients not using insurance have a $59 charge.
- CVS Telehealth: Visit the CVS Covid-19 Resource Center if you are experiencing symptoms and are seeking a COVID-19 test. If you have already tested positive for COVID-19 you can schedule an appointment with a MinuteClinic provider from the site, who can assess your diagnosis. Eligible patients will be able to receive a prescription for an oral antiviral if that treatment is appropriate. Most insurance is accepted to cover the visit; patients not using insurance have a $59 charge.
What is Evusheld, and who can take it?
Evusheld is a long-acting monoclonal antibody approved by the FDA for emergency use which can prevent COVID-19 infection in some patients. It is administered as two separate intramuscular injections in a clinical setting.
Evusheld is available to patients who cannot receive a COVID-19 vaccination, either because they are moderately to severely immunocompromised or because they are allergic to all COVID-19 vaccines. Candidates for Evusheld include:
- Transplant recipients
- Cancer patients,
- People who are HIV positive
- Patients receiving immunosuppressive therapy for various reasons
Evusheld is not a substitute for vaccination. Evusheld is preventive. It is not currently available for patients who are already symptomatic or have known exposure to COVID-19.
Where can I get Evusheld?
Your doctor must prescribe Evusheld and refer you to a facility for treatment. MDH is expanding clinical partnerships to include hospitals, select physician practices, specialty pharmacies, federally qualified health centers, ambulatory care organizations and other locations. If you cannot locate a healthcare provider, a self-referral form is available HERE.
How can I get treatment for COVID-19?
Talk to your health care provider as soon as you test positive for COVID-19 or are aware that you have been exposed to COVID-19 so they can determine if COVID-19 treatments are the right treatment for you. Oral antivirals are only effective if started within the first five days of illness, so test early and seek medical advice as soon as symptoms begin.
Where are COVID-19 treatments being offered?
There are many pharmacies and healthcare facilities offering COVID-19 treatment in Maryland. Oral antivirals are available at pharmacies throughout Maryland with a prescription.
Maryland pharmacies and health partners are participating in the federal Test to Treat (T2T) initiative to expand access to potentially life-saving COVID-19 treatments for all residents. Through T2T, people are able to get a rapid COVID-19 test and – if they test positive and treatments are appropriate for them – immediately receive a prescription and have their prescription filled all at one location. There may be a charge associated with these services.
You can find T2T sites in Maryland listed on the new T2T locator, published by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). Maryland is working with health partners to expand T2T locations and promote equitable access. The T2T locator, which also includes pharmacies that dispense oral antivirals with a prescription, is updated regularly with new locations added.
Can I access COVID-19 treatments if I don’t have a primary care physician?
You can receive rapid testing, clinical evaluation, and COVID medications (if they are right for you) without a primary care physician at one of more than 80 Test to Treat centers across Maryland. Visit covidTEST.maryland.gov to find a Test to Treat location near you. Remember that oral treatments are only effective if started within 5 days of your symptoms appearing, so test early and treat quickly.
You may self-refer to certain sites that offer monoclonal antibody treatment, such as the Baltimore City Convention Center Field Hospital Infusion Center.
What are the differences between the treatments available?
There are several important differences between these treatment options.
|Treatment||What kind of treatment is it?||Who is eligible to receive it?||When do you receive the treatment?||How long is the treatment?|
|Paxlovid||Oral antiviral (pill)||Anyone age 12+ at risk for severe COVID-19||Must begin within 5 days of symptom onset||5-day pill regimen|
|Molnupiravir||Oral antiviral (pill)||Anyone age 18+ at risk for severe COVID-19||Must begin within 5 days of symptom onset||5-day pill regimen|
|Monoclonal Antibody Treatments (mAb)||IV infusion||Anyone age 12+ at risk for severe COVID-19||Should begin within 5 days of symptoms onset||30-second IV infusion followed by 1-hour observation|
|Remdesivir||IV infusion||Infants, children, and adults at risk of severe COVID-19||Should begin within 7 days of symptoms onset||Three infusions given over three days|
Will my insurance cover COVID-19 treatment options?
While COVID-19 treatments are free if you meet the requirements, there may be an administration fee or other associated costs related to the process of treatment infusing the antibodies that may be covered by insurance. Please check with your insurance provider.
Can I get vaccinated if I have received treatment for COVID-19 ?
Those who have had a COVID-19 treatment should wait 90 days before getting vaccinated.
Where can I find additional resources about COVID-19 treatment options?
For more information about COVID-19 Treatments options, visit https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/hcp/therapeutic-options.html
Where can I find information and resources for providers?
For provider information and resources, visit https://coronavirus.maryland.gov/pages/provider-resources
FAQs about Testing
Who should get tested for COVID-19?
The CDC recommends the following people should get tested for COVID-19:
- People who have symptoms of COVID-19, regardless of vaccination status or prior infection.
- Most people who have had close contact (within 6 feet for a total of 15 minutes or more over a 24-hour period) with someone with confirmed COVID-19.
- People who have been asked or referred to get tested by their healthcare provider, or local, state, or federal jurisdiction, or who are required to test in order to travel. Check the current Travel Recommendations by Location /CDC.
Note: People who have tested positive for COVID-19 within the past 3 months and recovered do not need to get tested following an exposure as long as they do not develop new symptoms.
Do I need to get tested for COVID-19 once I have been fully vaccinated?
Yes. Even if you are up to date, meaning you have received all recommended vaccine doses, including boosters, you should get tested:
- Immediately if you develop COVID-19 symptoms, or
- 5 days after the last date of exposure to someone with COVID-19.
Additionally, for international travel, a negative COVID-19 test result may be needed to enter the country you intend to visit. Check the current Travel Recommendations by Location / CDC. Currently, all air passengers over age 2 coming to the United States from a foreign country, including U.S. citizens and fully vaccinated people, are required to have a negative COVID-19 test result before travel or documentation of recovery from COVID-19 in the past 90 days.
Where do I get tested?
There are hundreds of testing sites available throughout Maryland. Location, contact, and scheduling information for many of the COVD-19 test sites in Maryland can be found at covidtest.maryland.gov.
What does the test consist of and how do I get results?
Generally, the COVID-19 test involves a swab (“q-tip”) inserted into the back of the patient’s nostrils or the lower portion of the nose (both methods are accurate and effective). Most patients report minor, temporary discomfort at most.
For a PCR test, which is the standard with lab results, the results are usually available within approximately 48 hours, depending on laboratory testing demands and resources. In most cases, you will have the option to be contacted with your results via text message or phone call or to retrieve your results through an online patient portal. Rapid antigen tests give results in approximately 15 minutes.
Does insurance cover testing and treatment for COVID-19?
In many circumstances, tests are provided at no out-of-pocket cost to individuals. However, individuals should contact their health plan prior to receiving a COVID-19 test to determine whether testing is covered by the plan in their circumstance. Out-of-pocket expenses may apply if the test is not covered by the health plan. Maryland Medicaid will cover the costs of COVID-19 testing for its beneficiaries.
Marylanders who test positive for COVID at home can use the BCCFH COVID Task Force COVID Treatment Program to secure treatment. Using the simple online form, anyone can self refer and answer a few questions to learn if they are eligible for treatment. They will be given the option to schedule a telehealth or phone consultation through the site — and if treatment is recommended — receive a prescription filled at the nearest participating pharmacy to them.
Health insurance plans cover medically necessary treatment for disease, but the treatment may be subject to deductibles, copayments, and/or coinsurance. If you have a limited-benefits plan, there may be additional restrictions on what is covered.
What is the Test to Treat (T2T) program?
The State Center Vaccination, Testing and Treatment Center, located at 301 W. Preston Street, now offers Test to Treat services Monday – Thursday during testing hours. Visitors can receive a rapid test and – if they are positive and treatments are appropriate for them – receive an on-site clinical evaluation and prescription for oral medication filled on-site, at no charge to the patient. Insurance is not required, and medical interpreters are available.
More than 80 other Maryland pharmacies and health partners are participating in the federal Test to Treat (T2T) initiative to expand access to potentially life-saving COVID-19 treatments for all residents. To find a T2T location near you, visit the covidTEST.maryland.gov.
Marylanders who test positive for COVID at home and don’t have ready access to telehealth or a primary care provider to obtain evaluation for treatment can use the BCCFH COVID Task Force COVID Treatment Program. Using the simple online form, anyone can self refer and answer a few questions to learn if they are eligible for treatment. They will be given the option to schedule a telehealth or phone consultation through the site — and if treatment is recommended — receive a prescription filled at the nearest participating pharmacy to them. For more information about treatment options, including monoclonal antibodies, call 410-649-6200, the BCCFH Covid Task Force Call Center, for next steps.
Where can I get an at-home test for COVID-19?
Contact your local health department to find out where to receive a free test in your area, while supplies last. You can also get free at-home tests at three MDH-run testing and vaccination sites, while supplies last: Annapolis Annex, State Center (Baltimore City), and City of Praise Family Ministries (Lanham). Learn more at covidTEST.maryland.gov. At-home self-tests are also available over-the-counter or from your healthcare provider.
Who should use the at-home self test?
The self test is indicated for all people aged 15 years or older, and for children as young as 2 years old when samples are collected by an adult. The test can be used for people with and without symptoms, regardless of vaccination status.
Using the free at-home self tests is simple, even for people who have never tested themselves before. Everything is included in the box. Each test comes with an illustrated quick reference guide in English and Spanish.
What do the results of my at-home test mean?
If the result is positive, you are likely infectious, even if you have no symptoms and feel good.
Seek follow-up care from your healthcare provider as soon as possible, as you may need additional testing and treatment. See the full list of COVID-19 symptoms and emergency warning signs here.
Ask your provider if you are eligible for COVID-19 treatments which may lessen symptom severity. Learn more about COVID-19 Treatment Options.
You should let your close contacts know they were exposed to COVID-19. You may also report your positive test result using the Maryland COVID Positive At-Home Test Report Portal.
If you get a negative result on your at-home test, you should test again at least 36 hours after the first test. A negative test result likely means you do not have COVID-19 if you followed all instructions carefully. However, it is possible for a test to give a false negative result in some people who have COVID-19.
I tested positive on an at-home test. Can I get a letter to excuse me from work?
MDH can provide excuse letters for people who participate in contact tracing, which happens when positive test results are reported to MDH.
To report your recent positive test result to MDH and initiate the contact tracing process, you can do one of two things:
- If your at-home test includes a mobile app you can use that to report your positive results
- Visit the Maryland COVID Positive At-Home Test Report Portal to report your positive results
How does the Maryland COVID Positive At-Home Test Report Portal work?
If you test positive using an at-home test, we encourage you to follow the step-by-step instructions on the Maryland COVID Positive At-Home Test Report Portal website to report your result to MDH.
This allows the contact tracing process to begin, which includes providing you with:
- A MD COVID Alert verification code
- excuse and release letters for work and school
- additional guidance and resources
The portal only accepts recent positive at-home test results for Maryland residents.
FAQs about Contact Tracing
What is contact tracing?
Contact tracing is the process of identifying people who may have come into contact with an individual with an infectious disease. The process involves identifying people who have been infected, determining who they have been in close contact with while infectious and asking people who are potentially infected to stay home until it is clear they are not sick. Contact tracers also provide important guidance, answer questions and facilitate access to testing, treatment and vaccination when appropriate.
I tested positive, why haven't I gotten a call?
Following guidance from the CDC, Maryland moved away from universal contact tracing in April 2022. While talking to all reported cases and all of their named contacts is no longer the goal, contact tracers continue to call those at risk for of severe illness (e.g. elderly, certain pre-existing conditions), and those residing in congregate settings (e.g. nursing homes and rehabilitation centers).
The Maryland Department of Health has implemented a web survey to aid in the contact tracing process and will continue to use this survey moving forward. While you may not receive a call from a contact tracer if you test positive, you may receive a text and/or email with a link to the Contact Tracing Web Survey (see the FAQs about the Contact Tracing Web Survey for more information). We will also continue to send information related to isolation and quarantine via text and email, even if a contact tracing phone call is not made.
The key things to know if you test positive but don’t get a call, text or email, are to isolate (please see the FAQs about Isolation and Quarantine) and to tell your close contacts of their exposure. For information on how to notify your contacts please see How To Talk To Your Close Contacts. Call 2-1-1 or your local health department if you need access to resources or have questions. And please answer our call, text or email if you receive one. If you receive a call, the caller ID will read “MD COVID” or (240) 466-4488. The text will be from 51454 and the email will be from firstname.lastname@example.org. You may also speak with a contact tracer by calling the state contact tracing call center at (240) 466-4488 or (800) 559-6410.
I got a text message from the Maryland Department of Health. Is it legitimate?
The Maryland Department of Health (MDH) might text residents for a few of reasons:
- The text message may remind people to answer our call when a contact tracer calls to get more people to answer on the first call.
- MDH may send a text to someone who has recently tested positive to provide isolation guidance and resources.
- MDH may send a text to provide the verification code that a person who has tested positive needs to share their COVID-19 diagnosis through MD COVID Alert, without having to wait for a contact tracer to call.
- MDH may send a text to someone who has recently tested positive asking them to complete the Contact Tracing Web Survey.
- MDH may send a text to someone who has recently traveled internationally to provide guidance on testing, quarantine and isolation.
What happens after the list of contacts is established?
During the interview, the contact tracer will ask the person about individuals they may have been in contact with while that person was contagious. Specifically, the contact tracer will want to know about individuals who are at a risk of severe illness due to COVID-19 and those living in congregate settings. Following the interview with the person who has tested positive, those contacts described above will be contacted and guidance will be provided regarding how to quarantine and monitor themselves for symptoms.
During quarantine individuals will receive text, email or phone check-ins regarding their potential symptoms and be referred for testing should they develop symptoms. This process was developed to help prevent further person-to-person spread of the infection.
Why is contact tracing necessary?
Contact tracing is an essential tool used to decrease the spread of infectious disease. Effective use of contact tracing is a critical step in decreasing the number of COVID-19 cases.
Contact tracing is necessary even in light of vaccines because it is an essential public health tool that can contain outbreaks that may occur as restrictions relax (e.g., lifting masks mandates, less social distancing, large events, travel) and help public health professionals track new variants.
Who conducts contact tracing?
Local health departments across the state are conducting contact tracing. Maryland has also contracted with NORC at the University of Chicago, one of the largest independent social research organizations in the United States, to assist in contact tracing efforts. Throughout the pandemic NORC hired and trained more than 750 Maryland residents as contact tracers.
Does contact tracing damage my privacy and violate HIPAA laws?
No. Contact tracers protect the privacy of individuals who test positive for COVID-19 and maintain strict adherence to HIPAA regulations when notifying named contacts of their exposure. Named contacts are notified that they may have come into contact with an individual who tested positive or has symptoms of COVID-19, but the name of the infected person is not disclosed.
When contact tracing and outbreak investigations occur within settings at high risk for outbreaks (e.g. nursing homes, homeless shelters, detention centers, etc.) it may be necessary for those involved in the contact tracing and outbreak investigation to be aware of the names and some details surrounding the positive tests of employees, patients, residents and visitors in order to prevent further infections. In these instances, those involved in contact tracing and outbreak investigations may be state employees, local health department employees, or employees of the congregate setting. These disclosures fall under the department’s public health authority and are made only when necessary during the course of an investigation.
What should I expect a contact tracer to ask?
Contact tracers will ask about your health, any potential symptoms you may have, and the duration of those symptoms. They may ask about the places you have gone while you were considered contagious. If you had close contact with others during that time, they will ask for names and contact information for some of those individuals. They will ask for verification of your date of birth, address, and any other phone numbers you may have.
A contact tracer will never ask you for your social security number, financial or bank account information, or personal details unrelated to COVID-19. They will not ask for photographs or videos of any kind. They will not ask for your passwords. They will not ask for money or payment. They will not ask for your immigration status.
If you receive a call from someone claiming to be a contact tracer and they ask you for these things, it is a scam. Please report this to your Local Health Department. You can also report contact tracing fraud to the Federal Trade Commission: https://reportfraud.ftc.gov/#/
How do I know that a call from a contact tracer is not a scam? Is there a way to verify who is calling?
Maryland’s contact tracing efforts have several methods by which you can verify the identity of the caller. When your phone rings, the caller ID will read “MD COVID” on your screen. If you do not have caller ID on your phone, look for the phone number (240) 466-4488.
If you receive a contact tracing call from a different number it may be someone calling from your local health department. If you wish to verify this person is calling from the State or local health department you may hang up and call back to the main numbers instead, (240) 466-4488 or (800) 559-6410.
I got a text and/or email about participating in a survey about contact tracing. Is this legitimate?
The Maryland Department of Health has implemented a web survey to aid in the contact tracing process. This is called the Contact Tracing Web Survey. If you are 13 or older and have tested positive for COVID-19 you (or the guardian if the person who tested positive is under age 18) may receive a text message and/or email that contains a personalized link to the contact tracing web survey. After completing the survey, you will receive information and resources for isolation as well as a personalized work or school excuse letter.
The Maryland Department of Health has also implemented a web survey to provide resources to those who have recently traveled internationally. If you are over the age of 18 and have recently traveled internationally, you may receive the Travel Survey which includes a few brief questions along with guidance on testing, quarantine and isolation.
I completed the Contact Tracing Web Survey. Now what?
Upon completion of the Contact Tracing Web Survey you will receive a follow-up text and/or email with a link to additional information and resources, as well as a link to download a personalized work or school excuse letter should you need one.
You will then receive follow-up texts or emails, depending on your preference, to check-in and see how you are doing and provide additional guidance as necessary. Once your isolation is complete, you will receive your personalized work or school release letter via text or email.
If you would like to speak with a contact tracer directly, you can call the state contact tracing call center at (240) 466-4488 or (800) 559-6410.
You should also let your close contacts know they have been exposed to COVID-19.
I recently tested positive for COVID-19 but I did not receive a text or email asking me to complete the Contact Tracing Web Survey. Why not?
At this time, the web survey is only distributed to:
- Individuals whose positive results were reported to the State within 5 days of their test
- Individuals age 13 and and older, or their parent/guardian if under age 18
- Individuals who have a working mobile phone number or email address associated with their positive test result
If you recently tested positive, and you have not received a text or email with a link to the Contact Tracing Web Survey you can still participate in contact tracing via phone. Be on the lookout for a call from “MD COVID” or (240) 466-4488 or feel free to call the state contact tracing call center at (240) 466-4488 or (800) 559-6410.
You should also let your close contacts know they have been exposed to COVID-19.
Will I still be able to speak to someone if I complete the Contact Tracing Web Survey?
Completing the Contact Tracing Web Survey allows individuals to provide most of the same information that would be collected during a phone call with a contact tracer. Some individuals who are at a higher risk of severe illness such as older residents and those living in congregate settings may receive additional follow-up from a contact tracer.
If you would still like to speak with a contact tracer after completing the Contact Tracing Web Survey, you may call the state contact tracing call center at (240) 466-4488 or (800) 559-6410.
The link I was sent has expired or I cannot find the link I was sent. How do I receive a new one?
After the initial Contact Tracing Web Survey link is sent, two additional reminder messages will be sent. If you do not complete the survey within 48 hours of the first message your personalized survey link will expire.
If your link expires or you cannot find it, you are still able to participate in contact tracing via phone. Simply call the state contact tracing call center at (240) 466-4488 or (800) 559-6410, or be on the lookout for a call from “MD COVID” or (240) 466-4488.
How do I participate in contact tracing if I take an at-home COVID-19 test?
Contact tracing (by phone or via the Contact Tracing Web Survey) is initiated when positive test results are reported to MDH. To report your recent positive test result to MDH and initiate the contact tracing process, you can do one of two things:
- If your at-home test includes a mobile app use that to report your positive results
- Visit the Maryland COVID Positive At-Home Test Report Portal to report your positive results
I tested positive on an at-home test. Can I get a letter to excuse me from work or school?
The Maryland Department of Health (MDH) can provide excuse letters for people who participate in contact tracing (by phone or via the Contact Tracing Web Survey), which happens when positive test results are reported to MDH. To report your recent positive test result to MDH and initiate the contact tracing process, you can do one of two things:
- If your at-home test includes a mobile app you can use that to report your positive results
- Visit the Maryland COVID Positive At-Home Test Report Portal website to report your positive result to MDH
I received an email or text from the Maryland Department of Health regarding international travel. Why did I receive this?
The Maryland Department of Health may send a text message or email to Maryland residents over the age of 18 who have recently traveled internationally to provide guidance and resources related to testing, quarantine and isolation.
FAQs about MD COVID Alert
What is MD COVID Alert?
MD COVID Alert is the official COVID-19 Exposure Notifications Express system of Maryland. This system was developed to assist, but not replace Maryland’s contact tracing efforts by notifying people that they might have been exposed to a person with COVID-19.
MD COVID Alert uses Bluetooth Low Energy technology to quickly notify users who might have been exposed to someone who tested positive. This will reduce the risk of infection and help Maryland stop the spread of COVID-19.
Where can I download MD COVID Alert?
MD COVID Alert is available at no cost to you. For Apple users, you do not need to download an app – simply go to your phone’s Settings, enable Exposure Notifications, and select Maryland as your region.
To enable MD COVID Alert, you must have one of the following iOS versions:
- iPhone 6s or newer: iOS 13.7 or later
- iPhone 5s, 6, or 6 Plus: iOS 12.5
- All older devices: Currently not supported. Apple is working on solutions. We will update the website as more information is available.
iPhones that support iOS 13.7 or later are: iPhone 12, 12 Mini, 12 Pro, 12 Pro Max, 11, 11 Pro, 11 Pro Max, XR, XS, XS Max, X, SE (2nd generation), 8, 8 Plus, 7, 7 Plus, 6s, 6s Plus, SE (1st generation).
For Android users, download the MD COVID Alert app through the Play Store. Android users
can use MD COVID Alert if their phone supports Bluetooth Low Energy, Android Version 6 (API 23) or above, and can access the Google Play Store.
Can minors use MD COVID Alert?
MD COVID Alert is for persons 13 years and older. MD COVID Alert is not intended for children under the age of 13 and does not knowingly allow a child under the age of 13 to use the service. If a child under the age of 13 enables MD COVID Alert and receives an exposure notification, they should show the alert to a parent or legal guardian. Questions can be sent to email@example.com.
How does MD COVID Alert work?
MD COVID Alert works by assigning you a random number called a ‘random ID’. To ensure these random IDs cannot be used to identify users or their whereabouts, they change every 10-20 minutes. As the user goes about their day, their devices and other devices around them exchange the random IDs via Bluetooth Low Energy technology.
On a daily basis, your phone downloads a list of all the random IDs associated with verified positive COVID-19 cases and checks them against the random IDs users have encountered in the two days prior to their positive test or symptom onset. If there’s a match, the system will notify users of the date of exposure. No other information about the exposure will be shared.
Will MD COVID Alert protect my privacy?
Your privacy is important to the Maryland Department of Health, Apple, and Google. You are in charge of how much information is shared. You must opt into the system in order for it to work and you can turn exposure notifications off any time.
How does MDH define “close contact”?
MDH follows the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s definition of a “close contact” which is defined as being within 6 feet of an infected person for a cumulative total of 15 minutes or more over a 24-hour period starting from 2 days before illness onset (or, for asymptomatic patients, 2 days prior to test specimen collection) until the time the patient is isolated. The cumulative total can be determined by adding individual exposures over a 24-hour period (e.g., three 5-minute exposures for a total of 15 minutes). This definition applies regardless of mask wearing.
Should I use MD COVID Alert if I’ve been vaccinated?
Yes. COVID-19 vaccines are effective and are a critical tool to bring the pandemic under control. However, no vaccines are 100% effective at preventing illness. There will be a small percentage of people who are fully vaccinated who still get sick, are hospitalized, or die from COVID-19. Knowing you have been exposed to COVID-19 provides valuable information and prompts you to monitor for symptoms and get tested if any symptoms develop.
What should I do if I get an alert from MD COVID Alert?
See the I’ve Been Alerted. Now What? page.
I received an exposure notification. How can I find my date of exposure?
On an iPhone, go to Settings and open Exposure Notifications. The exposure date is found under “You might have been exposed to COVID-19… “
On an Android phone, the date of exposure is conveyed in the alert message under “possible exposure date”.
I tested positive, how do I get my verification code?
To share a positive COVID-19 diagnosis through MD COVID Alert you will need a verification code from the Maryland Department of Health. When your test result has been reported to MDH you will receive a notification or text message with your verification code. If you do not receive your code by text, you can contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you have tested positive for COVID-19 using a self/at-home test, you will need to report your results to receive a text message containing your MD COVID Alert verification code. If your at-home test includes a mobile app, use that to report your positive results, or visit the Maryland COVID Positive At-Home Test Report Portal to report your positive results to MDH.
How accurate is the exposure date and can I find out the time of my exposure?
In order to preserve anonymity, the date of exposure reported by MD COVID Alert is within approximately 24 hours of contact. The exact time of your exposure is not stored within MD COVID Alert and cannot be provided by MDH.
Is MD COVID Alert compatible with other exposure notification apps?
MD COVID Alert is completely interoperable with Exposure Notifications apps in states that are using the Association of Public Health Laboratories (APHL) National Key Server. More information and a full list of participating jurisdictions are available here. Users that travel between these regions will receive Exposure Notifications if they come in close contact with another user that has verified a positive test result regardless of the State experience they are using.
Does MD COVID Alert work outside of Maryland?
Yes, MD COVID Alert’s exposure notifications will work outside of Maryland if the area that you are traveling to also has an exposure notifications mobile app interoperable through the Association of Public Health Laboratories (APHL). More information and a full list of participating jurisdictions are available here.
I already downloaded an Exposure Notifications system from another state. Do I need to download MD COVID Alert, too?
Yes. If you live in Maryland, it is important for you to enable Exposure Notifications based on the State where you currently live and where you expect to be tested and access services if needed.
You can switch regions by:
- (On iPhone) Going to Settings > Exposure Notifications > Region > Add Another Region Select Region (United States > Maryland);
- (On Android) Open the MD COVID Alert app > Click Settings > Click Exposure Notifications > Click ‘Switch App’
Do I always need to leave MD COVID Alert open for the system to work?
No. MD COVID Alert will run in the background, without draining your battery or data, when it is not open. You will need to make sure the system is installed, and Exposure Notifications service has been enabled for MD COVID Alert to work.
Do I always need to keep Bluetooth turned on for MD COVID Alert to work?
Yes. Bluetooth must always be turned on for the Exposure Notifications System to detect how close you are to other users.
Will MD COVID Alert use a lot of data?
No. Every day, MD COVID Alert downloads new anonymous keys for detecting possible exposures. You can expect this to consume a few megabytes of your data each day.
How do I disable Exposure Notifications on an iPhone?
You can disable all Exposure Notifications by going to Settings > Exposure Notifications and tapping Turn Off Exposure Notifications. This will also delete the Bluetooth Identifiers recorded from other devices, associated metadata, your Random Device Keys, and your Exposure Notifications regions.
You can also delete the Bluetooth Identifiers, associated metadata, and Random Device Keys by going to Settings > Exposure Notifications > Exposure Logging and tapping Delete Exposure Log.
If you turn off Bluetooth on your device by going to Settings > Bluetooth, that will disable the sharing and collection of random Bluetooth Identifiers with other devices. This means that the Public Health Authority for your active region won’t be able to notify you about exposures to someone with COVID-19 that occur while Bluetooth is off.
The remaining features of Exposure Notifications will continue to operate while you have Bluetooth turned off. Turning Bluetooth back on will re-enable the sharing and collection of random Bluetooth Identifiers with other devices.
Apple will disable the Exposure Notifications system on a regional basis when it is no longer needed.
Within Settings I can see several Exposure Checks, many at the same time. Do these mean I was exposed?
Within your device’s Settings menu, you can see an Exposure Notifications or Exposure Logging section (the path to these is slightly different on some devices, but is typically as stated here):
iOS: Settings > Privacy > Health > COVID-19 Exposure Logging or Settings > Exposure Notifications
Android: Settings > Google > COVID-19 Exposure Notifications. Within those menus, you can find an “Exposure checks” field with a timestamped list.
These items are not exposures, but rather when your device checked for potential exposures. You may see several entries with the same date, as the keys of positive users are separated into a few files, and your device will download and check for matches within each of those files.
Once a person uploads their positive test result, how long does it take MD COVID Alert to send our information that they tested positive?
If a user submits a positive test result in MD COVID Alert to notify others, users that they were near can expect to receive an exposure notification within the next day from the time the report was submitted. This time is needed to make the positive user’s tokens available on the server and for other users’ devices to download those tokens and check for potential matches.
Do I need to be connected to Wifi or a cellular data connection for MD COVID Alert to work?
MD COVID Alert does not require Wifi or a cellular data connection. If Bluetooth is turned on, your phone will exchange tokens with others. However, other functionality, including verification code submission and positive key downloads to receive notifications do require a Wifi or cellular data connection to work.
Why does Location need to be enabled on Android devices?
Location does not need to be enabled on Android devices with Android 11. Older versions of Android do require location to be enabled for Bluetooth to work, even though location data is not collected or used by MD COVID Alert.
In 2015, in an effort to improve user privacy, Google built into Android a requirement that Location be turned on to enable Bluetooth. They did not anticipate the current need for MD COVID Alert to use Bluetooth technology without Location. MD COVID Alert does not collect any user location data. For additional information on location access on your Android phone, please visit Google’s Help page on Exposure Notifications and Android location settings.
On an Android device, I get an “Internal error” when attempting to enable MD COVID Alert. How can I fix this?
This can be an issue for Android devices where Google Play services have not been updated. To resolve this, follow these steps:
- On your Android phone or tablet, open Settings.
- Tap “Apps” or “Apps & notifications” then “See all apps.”
- Scroll down and tap “Google Play services”
- Scroll down and tap “App Details” or “App details in store”
- Tap “Update” or “Install”
This should resolve your issue. If it does not, please visit: www.google.com/covid19/exposurenotifications.
I turn my phone off periodically, usually a few hours per day to charge and/or reboot it. Does that affect MD COVID Alert?
Yes, this does affect MD COVID Alert slightly. Turning off your phone will prevent receipt of anonymous key updates that allow for the exposure notifications to work effectively. If your phone is off while you are at home alone, then there will be no effect. You would not want your phone to be off when you might encounter other people outside your household.
What if a person submits a false test result in MD COVID Alert?
To prevent users from submitting false test results, MD COVID Alert requires users to obtain a verification code from the Maryland Department of Health. The code is sent to individuals via text message when their positive test result is reported to MDH. This code can also be provided by a contact tracer during a contact tracing interview.
If you have questions about MD COVID Alert that are not answered here, please submit questions to email@example.com.
FAQs about Maryland COVID-19 Vaccinations
Trending Questions and Answers
Can children get the COVID-19 vaccine at the same time as other vaccines?
Yes, it is safe for children to get a COVID-19 vaccine and other routine vaccines during the same visit. This includes the flu shot and other pediatric immunizations. All children and adolescents aged 6 months and older should remain up to date with routine vaccinations and receive the COVID-19 vaccine when they are eligible. Determine your child’s vaccination status here.
Can I use an expired at-home COVID-19 rapid antigen test?
As it can take time for test manufacturers to perform stability testing, the Food & Drug Administration (FDA) will authorize at-home COVID-19 tests with a shelf-life of about four to six months from the day the test was manufactured, understanding that it may be extended later as additional data is collected. You can check the Expiration Date column of the List of Authorized At-Home OTC COVID-19 Diagnostic Tests to see if the expiration date for your at-home COVID-19 test has been extended and find any new expiration date.
Are 5-11 year olds now eligible for a COVID-19 booster shot?
Marylanders ages 5-17 are eligible for the Pfizer booster only. Marylanders 18 and older may choose which vaccine they want for a booster, even if it is different from the original vaccine received.
|What did you get?||When can you get a booster?||Who is eligible for a booster?|
|Pfizer||5 months after second dose||5 years and older|
|Moderna||5 months after second dose||18 years and older|
|Johnson & Johnson||2 months after single dose||18 years and older|
Children who are moderately or severely immunocompromised are eligible for a booster three months after the final dose in the primary series and for a second booster shot four months after the first booster. For more information, visit the covidLINK Booster page.
My family is planning to do some traveling this summer. Are there any special precautions we should take to protect ourselves from COVID-19?
Your best protection from COVID-19 when traveling will come from being vaccinated, including booster shots, wearing a mask on public transportation when required or if it makes you more comfortable, and taking other common sense precautions.
I lost my COVID-19 Vaccination Record Card. How can I get a replacement?
You can access your COVID-19 immunization record by going to MyIRMobile.com. Click on “Register” to set up an account to retrieve your records, including a printable certificate. You can easily access your vaccination information on your phone via a QR code available on the website. If you have access issues accessing your records, you can receive assistance by calling 1-855-MDGOVAX.
How does Test to Treat at the State Center Vaccination and Testing Site work? What are the hours and cost?
Visitors to State Center can now receive a rapid COVID-19 test and — if they test positive and treatments are appropriate for them — immediately receive a clinical evaluation and a prescription for oral antiviral pills filled on-site. The services offered at State Center are free.
Test to Treat is available at State Center six days a week:
- Mon: 8 a.m. – 2 p.m.
- Tues: 2:30 p.m. – 6 p.m.
- Wed: 12 noon – 4 p.m.
- Thurs: 10:30 a.m. – 1:30 p.m.
- Fri: 8 a.m. – 2 p.m.
- Sat: 10:30 a.m. – 12:15 p.m.
Eligibility for treatment is based on length of symptoms, underlying health conditions, and other factors. Please bring any information about medications you are currently taking for best results. Click here for more information.
There are more than 80 T2T sites in Maryland listed on the T2T locator including dozens of CVS MinuteClinics and ExpressCare locations statewide.
Why should I get a booster if I might get COVID-19 anyway?
While it’s possible to get infected even if you’ve had a booster, a booster shot strengthens your immunity to prevent severe illness, hospitalization and death. Boosters also help protect against COVID-19 variants, including Omicron. That’s why it’s still important to get that booster. Learn more about booster shots.
If I test positive on an at-home COVID-19 test, do I need to report it?
No. However, reporting positive results through the At-Home Test Report Portal will initiate the contact tracing process, which may be required to receive work or school excuse permission and release letters, which will help keep others safe.
You can report positive test results through the mobile app associated with your at-home test or directly through the At-Home Test Report Portal. Log in on the portal’s home page to submit a report. If you do not have login information, you may register to create an account.
What is a COVID-19 vaccine?
A COVID-19 vaccine is the best way to prevent serious illness due to COVID-19. The vaccines teach our immune systems how to recognize and fight the virus that causes COVID-19.
Learn more about how COVID-19 vaccines work.
Why should I get vaccinated?
The COVID-19 vaccine works with your immune system so your body will be ready to fight the virus if you are exposed. The vaccines are shown to be highly effective at preventing serious illness from COVID-19, and will also help protect the people around you. Together with wearing masks, washing your hands, and practicing physical distancing, getting vaccinated will help us put an end to this deadly pandemic. Join the state’s vaccine confidence campaign.
Are the COVID-19 vaccines working?
COVID-19 vaccines are effective at preventing serious illness, hospitalization, and death. Getting vaccinated is a critical tool to bring this pandemic under control. Data shows that the COVID-19 vaccines are working and keeping vaccinated Marylanders free from serious illness.
How do we know the COVID-19 vaccine is safe?
COVID-19 vaccines are safe and effective. COVID-19 vaccines were evaluated in tens of thousands of participants in clinical trials. The vaccines met FDA’s rigorous scientific standards for safety, effectiveness, and manufacturing quality needed to support emergency use authorization (EUA).
Millions of people in the United States have received COVID-19 vaccines, and these vaccines will undergo the most intensive safety monitoring in U.S. history. This monitoring includes using both established and new safety monitoring systems to make sure that COVID-19 vaccines are safe.
What is an emergency use authorization and how is it used to respond to COVID-19?
In certain types of emergencies, the FDA can issue an EUA to provide more timely access to critical medical products that may help during the emergency when there are no adequate, approved, and available alternative options. The EUA process is different from full FDA approval, clearance or licensing because the EUA standard requires significantly less data than otherwise would be required for approval, clearance or licensing by the FDA. This enables the FDA to authorize the emergency use of medical products that meet the criteria for issuance within weeks rather than months to years. It must be determined that the vaccines are safe and effective in diminishing the severity of COVID-19 symptoms to gain an FDA emergency use authorization or full licensing.
What are the ingredients in COVID-19 vaccines?
To learn more about the ingredients in authorized COVID-19 vaccines, see:
Do the COVID-19 vaccines have any side effects?
After the COVID-19 vaccination, you may have some side effects. This is a normal sign that may indicate your body is building immunities to protect you from the virus. The side effects of the COVID-19 vaccination may feel like flu and might even affect your ability to do daily activities, but they should go away in a few days.
Learn more about what side effects to expect and get helpful tips on how to reduce pain and discomfort after your vaccination.
What are the common misconceptions about the COVID-19 vaccine?
Now that there are authorized and recommended COVID-19 vaccines in the U.S., accurate vaccine information is critical. Here are the facts behind some of the most common vaccine myths:
MYTH: COVID-19 vaccines are used to microchip people.
FACT: There is no vaccine microchip, and the vaccine will not track people or gather personal information into a database.
MYTH: You can get COVID-19 from the vaccine.
FACT: None of the COVID-19 vaccines currently in development in the United States use the live virus that causes COVID-19. There are several different types of vaccines in development. However, the goal for each of them is to teach our immune systems how to recognize and fight the virus that causes COVID-19. Sometimes this process can cause symptoms, such as fever. These symptoms are normal and are a sign that the body is building immunity. Learn more about how COVID-19 vaccines work.
MYTH: COVID-19 vaccines will alter my DNA.
FACT: According to the CDC, the first COVID-19 vaccines to reach the market are messenger RNA, or mRNA, vaccines. Messenger RNA vaccines work by instructing cells in the body how to make a protein that triggers an immune response. Injecting messenger RNA into your body will not interact or do anything to the DNA of your cells. Human cells break down and get rid of the messenger RNA soon after they have finished using the instructions.
How long will it take before a COVID-19 vaccine is able to prevent serious illness for the recipient?
It typically takes two weeks after vaccination for the body to build protection against the virus that causes COVID-19. Vaccines are effective at preventing infection, serious illness, and death. Most people who get COVID-19 are unvaccinated. However, since vaccines are not 100% effective at preventing infection, some people who are fully vaccinated will still get COVID-19. That is why you should still wear a mask, practice proper social distancing, and follow other COVID-19 safety guidelines, even after you have been vaccinated.
What is a COVID-19 variant, and will the vaccine protect me from it?
Viruses constantly change through mutation, and new variants of a virus are expected to occur over time. Multiple variants of the virus that causes COVID-19 have been documented in the United States and globally during this pandemic, including here in Maryland.
Scientists are confident that the currently authorized vaccines are effective against the variants, but more studies are now being conducted to determine the best ways to maintain protection against COVID-19 illness.
For more information, see the latest from the CDC on New Variants of the Virus that Causes COVID-19.
Can I choose what brand of vaccine I get?
It is not possible to predetermine or choose which vaccine you will get for your first dose. The brand of COVID-19 vaccine you will first receive depends on the date and location of your vaccination. The availability of a certain brand – for a first dose – at any vaccination site varies weekly based on a variety of factors including the State’s supply and allocation of doses from the federal government. All of the available vaccines have been proven highly effective at preventing serious illness, hospitalization, and death from COVID-19 disease.
Does the COVID-19 vaccine cause heart problems?
The CDC has reported an extremely rare side effect in younger people mostly age 16+ that causes mild cases of inflammation of the heart muscle and surrounding tissue called myocarditis and pericarditis. These individuals recover on their own or with minimal treatment. Myocarditis and pericarditis are much more common if you get COVID-19, and the risks to the heart from COVID-19 infection can be more severe. For more information, read the joint statement from our nation’s health leaders.
With so much misinformation about COVID-19 vaccines and frequently changing COVID-19 guidance, where should I go for reliable information?
The CDC is still the best source for the most up-to-date information about COVID-19 and vaccines in the United States. For trusted information about COVID-19 in Maryland, visit coronavirus.maryland.gov or covidLINK, both Maryland Department of Health sites. If you have questions about COVID-19, call your local health department or dial 2-1-1.
Eligibility for COVID-19 Vaccine:
Who is now eligible for vaccines?
All Marylanders 6 months and older are eligible for vaccination.
Where can I get more information about COVID-19 vaccines?
The state continues to issue vaccination updates through a number of channels, including our statewide 2-1-1 texting service. To opt-in to receive these alerts, text ‘MdReady’ to 898-211.
Marylanders are also encouraged to visit covidlink.maryland.gov to review safety information and learn more about the state’s COVID-19 vaccination plan.
Are the COVID-19 vaccines safe for pregnant women?
Yes. The CDC has studied the safety of COVID-19 vaccines for pregnant people and found no safety concerns for the pregnant person or for their baby. More information on the research can be found here: New CDC Data: COVID-19 Vaccination Safe for Pregnant People.
The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) strongly recommends that pregnant people get vaccinated against COVID-19 because the vaccines are safe and because pregnant people are at higher risk of severe COVID-19 infection and death. If you have questions about getting vaccinated, talking with a healthcare provider may be helpful. Learn more about vaccination considerations for people who are pregnant or breastfeeding.
If you are pregnant and have questions about the COVID-19 vaccine, you can contact MotherToBaby whose experts are available to answer questions in English or Spanish by phone or chat. The free and confidential service is available Monday–Friday, 8 a.m. – 5 p.m. (local time). To reach MotherToBaby:
- Call 1-866-626-6847
- Chat live or send an email MotherToBaby
Can I still get vaccinated if I get pregnant after the first shot?
If you got pregnant after receiving your first shot of a COVID-19 vaccine that requires two doses (i.e., Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine or Moderna COVID-19 vaccine), you should get your second shot to get as much protection as possible. If you experience fever following vaccination, you should take acetaminophen because fever—for any reason—has been associated with adverse pregnancy outcomes.
Can pregnant people receive booster shots?
According to the CDC, people who are pregnant may receive the COVID-19 vaccine booster.
Is it safe for me to get a COVID-19 vaccine if I would like to have a baby one day?
Yes. If you are trying to become pregnant now or want to get pregnant in the future, you may get a COVID-19 vaccine. There is currently no evidence that any vaccine, including the COVID-19 vaccine, causes any problems with pregnancy or female or male fertility. For more information, visit the CDC.
Should people who are breastfeeding get the COVID-19 vaccine?
Yes, the COVID-19 vaccine is recommended for people who are breastfeeding. Breastfeeding people were not included in the initial COVID-19 vaccine studies, but the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) and the Society for Maternal Fetal Medicine (SMFM) both recommend that breastfeeding people get the COVID-19 vaccine. The COVID-19 vaccine keeps you from catching COVID-19 and potentially spreading it to your baby. Breastfeeding people who have received mRNA COVID-19 vaccines have also been found to have antibodies in their breast milk, which could help protect their babies. COVID-19 vaccines cannot cause infection in anyone, including the mother or the baby.
Should people with severe allergies get the COVID-19 vaccine?
The CDC says that people who have experienced severe reactions to prior vaccines or injectable drugs can still get any of the approved vaccines for COVID-19, but should discuss the risks with their doctors ahead of time.
There have been reports that some people have experienced both severe and non-severe allergic reactions to the COVID-19 vaccine. An allergic reaction is considered severe when a person needs to be treated with epinephrine, also known as an EpiPen, or if they must go to the hospital. Some people have also experienced non-severe allergic reactions within 4 hours after getting vaccinated with symptoms such as hives, swelling, and wheezing.
If you have had an immediate allergic reaction—severe or non-severe—to any ingredient in any of the approved vaccines, you should not receive that vaccine. If you had a severe or non-severe allergic reaction after getting the first dose of an mRNA COVID-19 vaccine, you should not get the second dose.
For these reasons, and to assure your safety, you are requested to stay at the vaccination site and in the proximity of a healthcare provider for 15-30 minutes after receiving the vaccination.
Am I able to get my vaccine outside of the county of my residence?
Any eligible individual may receive a vaccine at any time, provided an appointment is available at a vaccine clinic. A COVID-19 vaccine administration site may establish additional appointment requirements or other restrictions necessary for the management of individuals and administration of the vaccine.
Do you have to be a MD resident to receive the vaccine in Maryland?
While we are not turning anyone away (if eligible), we are certainly prioritizing Maryland residents for vaccine administration. Any individual may receive a vaccine at any time, provided that they are eligible and an appointment is available at a vaccine clinic. A COVID-19 vaccine administration site may establish additional appointment requirements or other restrictions necessary for the management of individuals and administration of the vaccine.
If you had the virus and recovered will you still be able or need to get the vaccine?
Yes, you should be vaccinated regardless of whether you already had COVID-19. That’s because experts do not yet know how long you are protected from getting sick again after recovering from COVID-19. Even if you have already recovered from COVID-19, it is possible—although rare—that you could be infected with the virus that causes COVID-19 again. Learn more about why getting vaccinated is a safer way to build protection than getting infected.
If you were treated for COVID-19 with monoclonal antibodies or convalescent plasma, you should wait 90 days before getting a COVID-19 vaccine. Talk to your doctor if you are unsure what treatments you received or if you have more questions about getting a COVID-19 vaccine.
Will I put my immigration status at risk if I get a COVID-19 vaccine? ¿Pondré en riesgo mi estado migratorio si me ponen la vacuna COVID-19?
Su estado migratorio NO estará en peligro por vacunarse o hacerse la prueba del COVID-19. Si es su turno, vacúnese. Si cree que tiene el virus, hágase la prueba. Visite https://covidlink.maryland.gov/content/es para más información en español.
Accessing a COVID-19 vaccine or test will NOT put your immigration status at risk. Get vaccinated if you are eligible. Get a test if you need one. For more information, visit: https://covidlink.maryland.gov/content/es/
I received a call from someone claiming they were from the Maryland Department of Health. How do I know if this is legitimate?
It can be difficult to know if a call is legitimate or a scam because a scammer can make any name or number show up on your caller ID. Phone scammers ask for specific information to try to steal your money or identity. Staff from the Maryland Department of Health will never ask you for your social security number, credit card information or other financial information. If the caller says they have this information and needs you to confirm it, don’t. If you don’t recognize a name or number, consider letting the call go to voicemail. If it’s a representative from the Maryland Department of Health or your local health department, they will leave a voicemail and phone number so you can call back.
Pediatric COVID-19 Vaccinations:
Should I vaccinate my child?
Yes, unless advised otherwise by your child’s pediatrician. The Maryland Department of Health, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the American Academy of Pediatrics recommend vaccinating children who are eligible. Unvaccinated children are at higher risk of severe illness, hospitalization, and death from COVID-19. Getting eligible children vaccinated can help prevent them from getting really sick and help prevent serious short and long-term complications of COVID-19.
Are COVID-19 vaccines safe for children?
The FDA and the CDC take vaccine safety precautions very seriously and continue to monitor the COVID-19 vaccines carefully for any signs of safety issues among the public. Millions of children and teens ages 5 through 17 have received at least one dose of the vaccine. COVID-19 vaccines were evaluated in thousands of participants in clinical trials and met the FDA’s rigorous scientific standards for safety, effectiveness, and manufacturing quality needed to support emergency use authorization (EUA). Adverse reactions to the vaccine are rare and COVID-19 vaccines are being monitored with the most comprehensive and intense vaccine safety monitoring program in U.S. history. Parents are encouraged to report any suspected cases post COVID-19 vaccination issues to VAERS.
What is different about the child dose?
Children get a smaller dose of COVID-19 vaccine than teens and adults which is the right amount for their age group. Even though these dosages are in a smaller amount, they are shown to still produce a robust immune response.
Should my child expect side effects?
As with adults, children may experience some side effects, which are normal signs that their body is building protection. Some children may not experience any side effects at all. Side effects are typically mild and short in duration and include pain, redness, and swelling at the injection site, as well as tiredness, headache, muscle and joint pain, mild fever, and chills.
What about myocarditis?
Since April 2021, cases of myocarditis (inflammation of the heart) and pericarditis (swelling and irritation of tissue surrounding the heart) have been reported in adolescents and young adults following receipt of mRNA (Pfizer or Moderna) vaccines, most often young males 16-17 years of age and following the 2nd dose. However, these cases are incredibly rare and the risk of myocarditis among young men following COVID-19 infection is up to 6 times higher compared to the risk of myocarditis in young men after receipt of the mRNA vaccine. The CDC continues to recommend COVID-19 vaccination for everyone 5 years of age and older given the risk of COVID-19 illness and complications, such as long-term health problems, hospitalization, and even death. More information about myocarditis can be found from the CDC.
Does my child need a COVID-19 booster shot?
COVID-19 vaccine boosters can enhance or restore protection that might have waned over time after primary series vaccination. Children are protected best from severe illness and hospitalization when they stay up to date with their COVID-19 vaccines. For most children ages 5+, the CDC recommends a booster of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine at least 5 months after the final dose in the primary series. Children who are moderately or severely immunocompromised are eligible for a booster three months after the final dose in the primary series and for a second booster shot 4 months after the 1st booster. Currently, a booster shot is not recommended for children younger than 5.
Where can my child get a COVID-19 vaccine?
COVID-19 vaccines for 5 to 17-year-olds are available at hundreds of healthcare providers, including family practices, pediatricians, local health departments, pharmacies, and elsewhere across Maryland. Ask your pediatrician or family doctor if they vaccinate children ages 6 months to 5.
To find a vaccine provider near you, visit coronavirus.maryland.gov or call 1-855-MD GO VAX (1-855-634-6829).
Who in Maryland is currently eligible to get a COVID-19 booster shot? What about a second booster dose?
Eligible Marylanders may choose which vaccine they want for a booster, even if it is different from the original vaccine received. Call 1-855-MDGOVAX (855-634-6829) or visit covidvax.maryland.gov to schedule your booster appointment.
Will I need to show my COVID-19 vaccine record card as proof of receiving the vaccine to receive a booster or additional shot?
No, individuals may self-attest to eligibility. Providers shall not turn away any individual who self-attests to eligibility for a booster or additional dose.
Can I “mix and match” the type of vaccine I get for a booster shot, even if it is different from what I received initially?
Individuals 18 years and older who are eligible for a booster dose may request any FDA-approved or authorized COVID-19 vaccine to be administered as their booster dose.
NOTE: Marylanders ages 16-17 are eligible for the Pfizer booster only.
I tested positive for COVID-19. Should I still get a booster shot?
Yes. Once your symptoms have resolved and your isolation period has ended, you can and should get a booster shot. A booster shot is how you maintain your immunity against COVID-19 and variants and is one of the best steps you can take to keep yourself protected and your family, friends, and community safe at this stage of the pandemic. If you have questions, please talk with your doctor.
How well do the current COVID-19 booster shots work against the Omicron variant?
COVID-19 vaccines are still the best way to protect yourself from COVID-19 and reduce the likelihood of new variants emerging. This includes primary series, booster shots and additional doses for those who need them. The current vaccines are expected to protect against severe illness, hospitalizations, and deaths due to the Omicron variant. However, some infections in people who are vaccinated may still occur. People who are up to date with their COVID-19 vaccines and get COVID-19, are less likely to develop serious illness than those who are unvaccinated.
I want to get my flu shot and also need a COVID-19 booster. Can I get both shots at the same time?
Yes, you can safely get the flu vaccine and a COVID-19 booster at the same time.
Registering for a COVID-19 Vaccine:
Where can I get vaccinated? How do I register or make an appointment?
You can get a COVID-19 vaccine at 700+ pharmacy providers, 400+ primary care providers, hospitals, urgent care clinics, and local health departments across the state. You can find the site nearest you, information about which sites require an appointment, or sites that offer vaccines for ages 5+ by visiting covidvax.maryland.gov or calling the state’s multilingual call center seven days a week at 1-855-MD-GOVAX.
What do I need to know before I go get the vaccine?
You can make an appointment to get a vaccine, or you can go to a vaccination site or clinic that offers walk-up appointments. If you receive a two-dose vaccine, make sure you have a second appointment scheduled from the same site or know how to schedule it.
What can I expect at my vaccination appointment?
When you go to get the vaccine, you and your healthcare worker will both need to wear masks that cover your nose and mouth. Stay 6 feet away from others while inside and in lines.
You can still get your COVID-19 vaccine without insurance, an ID, or a Social Security number.
The site should give you a vaccination card that tells you what COVID-19 vaccine you received, the date, and the place you got it. Keep this card in a safe place. You will need it for your second shot and to keep for your records. Consider taking a picture of the card for safe keeping.
The provider should also give you a fact sheet that tells you more about the COVID-19 vaccine you are getting. After your shot, you should be monitored on-site for 15-30 minutes for any sign of an allergic reaction.
How do I set an appointment for my second vaccine?
MDH has instructed COVID-19 vaccine providers to ensure that recipients are scheduled for a second dose before leaving their first-dose appointment. Vaccine recipients who do not yet have a second-dose appointment can schedule by contacting the site or provider where they received their first dose.
Pfizer vaccine recipients’ second dose should be scheduled for a time no earlier than three weeks after the first dose; Moderna vaccine recipients’ second dose should be scheduled for a time no earlier than four weeks after the first dose. If it is not possible to schedule an appointment for the second dose at the recommended interval, schedule an appointment at the next earliest time available.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) offers additional information about the administration of second doses.
Do I have to pay for the vaccine?
No, you will not have to pay for the COVID-19 vaccine. Vaccine providers may request insurance information to be reimbursed by your insurer, but Marylanders will not receive a bill for their COVID-19 vaccination.
I am homebound. How can I get a COVID-19 vaccine?
Call the Maryland GoVAX COVID-19 Vaccination Support Center at 1-855-MDGOVAX (1-855-634-6829) from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. seven days a week. Please choose the option “No Arm Left Behind” and a support center advocate will take your information for in-home vaccination coordination.
What documentation do I need to bring with me for my vaccination appointment?
You may want to bring a government-issued ID, and any other documentation specific to your situation to your appointment.
What should I do if I miss my first or second vaccine appointment?
It depends on where you made your appointment. Always check your vaccination appointment confirmation email or text message to see if there are specific instructions for rescheduling your appointment. If you cannot find your appointment confirmation or there are no instructions, check the website where you were scheduled for more information.
How do I cancel a vaccination appointment at a pharmacy, hospital or local health department?
How you will cancel your vaccination appointment depends on where you made your appointment. Always check your vaccination appointment confirmation email or text message to see if there are specific instructions for canceling or rescheduling your appointment. If you cannot find your appointment confirmation or there are no instructions, check the website where you are scheduled for more information.
What can I do if a vaccination site on the site finder at coronavirus.maryland.gov will not load for me?
If you are not using Google Chrome, try using it as your browser. If you still cannot load the site from your computer, you can call the Maryland GoVAX COVID-19 Vaccination Support Center at 1-855-MDGOVAX (1-855-634-6829) from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. seven days a week.
Support Center advocates/agents can help you find a vaccination provider close to you. They can also help with general questions about COVID-19 and the vaccine.
Post COVID-19 Vaccination:
Do COVID-19 vaccines protect you more than a prior COVID-19 infection?
Does immunity after getting COVID-19 last longer than protection from COVID-19 vaccines?
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. Some early evidence—based on some people— seems to suggest that natural immunity may not last very long. Regarding vaccination, we won’t know how long immunity lasts until we have a vaccine and more data on how well it works. Both natural immunity and vaccine-induced immunity are important aspects of COVID-19 that experts are trying to learn more about, and the CDC will keep the public informed as new evidence becomes available.
Once I get vaccinated, will I receive any sort of documentation to show that I have received the COVID-19 vaccine?
If you receive the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine, both of which require two doses, you will receive a COVID-19 Vaccination Record Card once you receive your first dose. It will also remind you of when you will need to return to receive your second dose. You will need to bring the card with you when you return for the second dose so that it can be documented on the card.
If you receive the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, which only requires only one dose, you will receive a COVID-19 Vaccination Record Card which will show that you have received the single dose.
You can also get a copy of your immunization record by going to MyIRMobile.com.
What is a post-vaccination infection?
A post-vaccination infection, or vaccine breakthrough case, is when an individual tests COVID-19 positive 14 days or more after being fully vaccinated. According to the CDC, vaccine breakthrough cases are expected. A small percentage of people fully vaccinated against COVID-19 will still develop COVID-19 illness. No vaccines are 100% effective at preventing illness in vaccinated people.
If I have all of my required vaccine shots and have a Vaccination Record Card, do I still need to get a COVID-19 test prior to coming into Maryland?
If you are traveling in the United States, you do not need to get tested before or after travel into Maryland. International arrivals are required by the U.S. Government, through the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), to be tested prior to a flight’s departure. See here for more information.
However, according to the CDC, even if you are vaccinated against COVID-19, you may still be exposed to the virus that causes COVID-19. After exposure, people can “carry” the virus that causes COVID-19, but not feel sick or have any symptoms. For more information, please see the CDC’s webpage on travel.
Do fully vaccinated people need to get tested if exposed to COVID-19?
Yes. If you have been exposed to COVID-19, even if you are up to date, meaning you have received all recommended vaccine doses, including boosters, you should get tested 5 days after the last exposure to someone with COVID-19.
Don’t see your question answered? Ask A Vaccine Question
FAQs about Mental Health, Stress and Anxiety
What should I do if I have an existing mental health condition?
During and following an emergency, people with pre-existing mental health conditions should seek or continue treatment, following their treatment plans as set up through their provider. Individuals may experience a worsening of their symptoms; if this happens, contact your provider for additional services immediately.
What if I am feeling anxious or stressed related to COVID-19?
Everyone reacts differently to stressful situations. The emotional impact of an emergency on a person can depend on the person’s characteristics and experiences, the social and economic circumstances of the person and their community and the availability of local resources. People can become more distressed if they excessively see repeated images or hear repeated reports about the pandemic in the media.
Reactions during an infectious disease outbreak can include:
- Fear and worry about your own health status and that of your loved ones
- Changes in sleep or eating patterns
- Difficulty sleeping or concentrating
- Worsening of chronic health problems
- Increased use of alcohol, tobacco or other drugs
Feelings of fear, anxiety, sadness and uncertainty are normal during a pandemic. Fortunately, being proactive about your mental health can help to keep both your mind and body stronger.
What can I do to support myself?
Avoid excessive exposure to media coverage of COVID-19. Take breaks from watching, reading, or listening to news stories. It can be upsetting to hear about the crisis and see images repeatedly. Try to do some other activities you enjoy to return to your normal life. When you do read news, avoid media outlets that build hype or dwell on things that can’t be controlled. Instead, turn to information sources that provide reliable information about how to protect yourself.
Recognize the things you can control. Take care of your body. Take deep breaths, stretch, meditate, and exercise. Keep yourself grounded. Try to get regular sleep and maintain a healthy diet and exercise. It is not unusual for individuals to experience disruptions in both eating and sleeping during a crisis, and it is very important to try to maintain healthy habits, and to avoid strategies such as using drugs or alcohol to handle stress.
Make time to unwind and remind yourself that strong feelings will fade. Share your concerns and how you are feeling with a friend or family member. Maintain healthy relationships. Maintain a sense of hope and positive thinking.
Stay connected. Reaching out to people you trust is one of the best ways to reduce anxiety, depression, loneliness, and boredom during social distancing, quarantine, and isolation. You can use the phone, email, text messaging, and social media to connect with friends, family, and others.
Continue to maintain proper infection control techniques such as hand-washing and social distancing, and get vaccinated.
Check how realistically you are viewing the situation. Avoid dramatic media and rely on credible sources of information, such as the CDC. Social media is not always a reliable source of health information.
Call your health care provider if stress reactions interfere with your daily activities for several days in a row.
Where can I find additional resources?
American Foundation for Suicide Prevention
Black Mental Health Alliance
Call 410-338-2642 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Center for the Study of Traumatic Stress
Visit covidconnect.maryland.gov for mental health resources, webinars, and COVID-19 recovery support groups.
Maryland Family Tree
24/7 Parenting HelpLine: 1-800-243-7337
MDH’s Operation Roll Call
Maryland veterans can also enroll in Operation Roll Call (1-877-770-4801) — a program that offers regular check-in calls and a chance to talk to someone who can offer support.
MD Mind Health
Text “MDMindHealth” to 898-211 to sign up to receive encouragement, reminders, and resources for staying connected. For the Spanish language version text “MDSaludMental.” Young Marylanders can text “MDYoungMinds” for supportive, youth-focused mental health messages.
National Association of School Psychologists
SAMHSA’s Disaster Distress Helpline provides 24/7, 365-day-a-year crisis counseling and support to people experiencing emotional distress related to natural or human-caused disasters. This toll-free, multilingual, and confidential crisis support service is available to all residents in the United States and its territories: 1-800-985-5990
For Parents of Young Children
How can I help my children?
Children react, in part, to what they see from the adults around them. When parents and caregivers deal with the COVID-19 calmly and confidently, they can provide the best support for their children. Parents can be more reassuring to others around them, especially children, if they are better prepared.
Not all children respond to stress in the same way. Some common stress-related behavior to watch for in children include:
- Excessive crying and irritation
- Returning to behaviors they have outgrown, like toileting accidents or bedwetting
- Excessive worry or sadness
- Unhealthy eating or sleeping habits
- Irritability and “acting out” behaviors
- Poor school performance or avoiding assignments
- Difficulty with attention and concentration
- Avoidance of activities enjoyed in the past
- Unexplained headaches or body pain
- Use of alcohol, tobacco, or other drugs
There are many things you can do to support your child:
Take time to talk with your child about the COVID-19 outbreak. Answer questions and share facts about COVID-19 in a way that your child can understand. Limit your child’s exposure to media coverage of COVID-19. Children may misinterpret what they hear and can become frightened about something they do not understand.
Reassure your child that they are safe. Let them know it is okay if they feel upset. Share with them how you deal with your own stress so that they can learn how to cope from you.
Help children find positive ways to express disturbing feelings such as fear and sadness. Every child has his/her own way to express emotions. Sometimes engaging in a creative activity, such as playing and drawing, can facilitate this process. Children feel relieved if they can express and communicate their disturbing feelings in a safe and supportive environment.
Help your child to have a sense of structure. Be a role model; take breaks, get plenty of sleep, exercise, and eat well. Connect with your friends and family members and rely on your social support system.
The American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry has more resources and information about children and anxiety.
The American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry has more information about talking to children about coronavirus (COVID-19).
I’m feeling stress and anxiety about the choices in front of us. Will my children pick up on that?
Yes. Children are “sponges” and take emotional cues from their parents and caregivers. However, it is perfectly normal to feel stress and anxiety during this time of uncertainty. If you feel immobilized by these feelings, please seek professional help through a licensed behavioral health/medical provider. It is important that parents, caregivers and teachers manage their own emotions by remaining calm, being mindful of tone, listening to the child(ren)’s concerns, and reassuring them of their safety and well-being.
For Adolescents and Young Adults
Should I be worried about the pandemic?
Everyone reacts differently to stressful situations. Adolescents and young adults often feel like nothing can go wrong. While this is normal, and can help reduce your worries, make sure you take steps to stay healthy. Recognize others may be hiding their worries in many ways. Some people become very irritable, angry and even start fights with others. Sleep and eating may become disrupted. Especially if other frightening things have happened, some youth may develop nightmares or have panic attacks. Still others may increase their use of alcohol, tobacco and drugs to escape from what is going on.
What can I do to help cope?
Keep yourself grounded. Exercise, meditate. Draw, write in a journal or use music to express your thoughts and feelings. Do things that make you feel good and are also good for you.
Plan the things you can do: wear your mask, wash your hands, carry wet wipes or other items when you are out in public. Recognize the things you can control, like having good hygiene. When it’s your turn, get vaccinated and boosted.
Reach out to your friends and family. If you can, talk about how you are feeling. Talk about anything positive — laugh, joke. Make sure you get enough sleep and stick to your pre-COVID-19 routine as much as you can. Let someone know if you are not able to do your usual activities because of your worrying.
Stay connected. Staying at home and distancing from others should not mean you are completely isolated. Reaching out to people you trust is one of the best ways to reduce anxiety, depression, loneliness, and boredom during social distancing, quarantine, and isolation. You can use the phone, email, text messaging, and social media to connect with friends, family, and others. Talk “face to face” with friends and loved ones using video chat options.
Find more resources in the MDH Behavioral Health Administration’s Student and Young Adult Resource Guide for Coping during COVID-19.
For information on youth suicide prevention, download the MDH Behavioral Health Administration’s Youth Suicide Prevention Toolkit.
For more information about coping, check out the CDC’s Support for Teens and Young Adults.
For Healthcare Workers
What should I know?
As a health professional, you may feel overwhelmed. As a person working with individuals who are potentially ill, you also likely have concerns about the risk of becoming infected yourself. You may also be concerned about your own financial security and family in the event of a quarantine or infection.
It is important to look after yourself and maintain a balanced view of the situation. There are some things you can control, and other things that you can do nothing about. The challenge is to separate these things so that you can take reasonable steps to protect yourself, but also let go of worries and anxieties that simply get in your way. It will be important to help your clients make the same distinctions.
It is important to recognize that health care workers can suffer secondary trauma as a result of their emotional involvement with distressing situations. Check in with yourself, noting if you have any symptoms of anxiety or depression. These could include sleeplessness, fatigue, irritability, depression, anger, illness, guilt and withdrawal. There are resources available online to help you cope. Please use them if you need them.
Think about what you need to help yourself and those you are helping to handle the stress involved in this situation — what are some of the things you can control?
Make sure you understand how your employer will address the outbreak. Remember that your reaction to the situation may not be the same as those of your colleagues or your clients. Everybody reacts differently to stressors, including those brought on by this outbreak. Respect other people’s feelings.
Maintain proper infection control techniques such as wearing your mask, hand-washing and social distancing — and get vaccinated.
Check how realistically you are viewing the situation. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has continually pointed out that the vast majority of individuals, even if they do get sick, will not become terribly ill. Avoid dramatic media and stick to credible sources of information, such as the CDC. Social media is not a great source of information.
Keep yourself grounded. Exercise, meditate. Talk to your friends on the phone. Try to get regular sleep and a healthy diet. It is not unusual for individuals to experience disruptions in both eating and sleeping during a crisis, and it is very important to try to maintain healthy habits, and to avoid strategies such as using drugs or alcohol to handle stress.
What are some of the things you can’t control? Worrying will merely aggravate the situation.
All you can do is pay attention to those things above that you can control.
There is some benefit to planning. But after you have a plan, move on and focus on living your life rather than worrying about the virus. Don’t try to control other people’s reactions. Listen and help people work through the facts concerning the virus but understand that hyping or denying the existence of a threat is not helpful.
For self-care and mental health information and resources for Maryland workers, review BHA’s Help the Helpers Clinician Letter.
For Older Adults and Adults with Disabilities
What are warning signs and risk factors that older adults and adults with disabilities may be experiencing emotional stress or anxiety?
Older adults and adults with disabilities who are impacted by an infectious disease outbreak are faced with difficult challenges. Many older adults already struggle to maintain social connections and meaningful activities because they may not have many friends and family members nearby, they may not drive, children are grown, and they are likely retired. When asked to further limit contact with the public to reduce exposure to COVID-19, they may experience increased loneliness and isolation.
Additionally, many older adults and adults with disabilities are reliant on help from family, friends or paid caregivers. Fear of not having access to this care if the caregiver becomes sick can cause stress and anxiety.
Warnings signs of stress may include:
- Difficulty concentrating on daily activities
- Loss of interest in daily activities
- Crying spells, irritability or bursts of anger
- Difficulty eating
- Sleep problems, like difficulty falling asleep, staying asleep or sleeping too much
- Increasing physical distress symptoms such as headaches, stomach pains or restlessness
- Increased fatigue
- Feeling guilty, helpless or hopeless
Older adults and adults with disabilities most at risk of experiencing severe emotional stress or anxiety include those with a history of:
- Exposure to other traumas, including severe accidents, abuse, assault, combat or rescue work
- Chronic medical illness or psychological disorders
- Chronic poverty, homelessness, or discrimination
- Those who lost a loved one or friend involved in an infectious disease outbreak
- Those who lack economic stability and/or knowledge of the English language
- Older adults who may lack mobility or independence
- Older adults who rely upon others for daily assistance
What can older adults and adults with disabilities do to reduce emotional stress and anxiety?
- Avoid excessive exposure to media coverage of COVID-19
- Only consult legitimate sources, like the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, for information about COVID-19
- Engage in activities that bring comfort or joy
- Take deep breaths, stretch or meditate
- Try to eat healthy, well-balanced meals, exercise regularly, get plenty of sleep and avoid alcohol and drugs
- Make time to unwind and remember that strong feelings will fade
- Share your concerns and how you are feeling with a friend or family member
- Call your health care provider if stress reactions interfere with your daily activities for several days in a row
- Avoid making major life decisions
Be especially aware of scams related to COVID-19. The Federal Trade Commission has identified several of them and is offering tips to protect yourself and others: Coronavirus Advice for Consumers.
Learn more about available services with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ guide: Healthy Aging in a Pandemic World: What Older Adults and Caregivers Need to Know
FAQs about Isolation and Quarantine
What is the difference between quarantine and isolation?
Isolation is the separation of people with COVID-19 from others. People in isolation need to stay home and separate themselves from others as much as possible. Sharing food, utensils, bathroom facilities and sleeping quarters, as well as contact with pets, should be avoided.
Quarantine is used to keep someone who might have been exposed to COVID-19 away from others. These people may or may not get sick. People in quarantine should stay home for the duration of their quarantine period, limit their contact with other people, and monitor themselves closely for symptoms of COVID-19. Most people who are going to get sick will get sick within 2-14 days of exposure.
For assistance with determining the length of your quarantine or isolation, use the CDC’s COVID19 Quarantine and Isolation Calculator.
How does MDH define “close contact”?
MDH follows the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s definition of a “close contact” which is defined as someone who was less than 6 feet away from an infected person for a cumulative total of 15 minutes or more over a 24-hour period.
I just tested positive for COVID-19. What should I do?
Follow your healthcare provider’s guidance, and ask them if treatments such as oral antivirals are right for you. Oral treatments like Paxlovid must be taken within five days of the appearance of symptoms, and the earlier the better – so call your physician with a positive at-home test to get a prescription, especially if you are over age 55 or have underlying health conditions which put you as serious risk for severe illness from COVID.
Most people can recover at home. It is important that you stay home and take care of yourself. Stay away, and isolate yourself from others as much as you can. Read the CDC guidance on What to Do if You are Sick. Do not have visitors, unless they are caring for you.
You should also participate in contact tracing if you are contacted, and let your close contacts know that you have tested positive.
If you would like to speak with a contact tracer directly, you can call the state contact tracing call center at (240) 466-4488 or (800) 559-6410.
I have received all recommended dosages for COVID-19. Do I still have to isolate if I test positive?
If you test positive for COVID-19, even if you have received all recommended vaccination doses for which you are eligible, you should self-isolate at home. You can be with others after:
- 5 days from the date your symptoms or from the date of your positive test; and
- 24 hours with no fever, without the use of fever-reducing medications; and
- Your COVID-19 symptoms have improved*
You must continue to wear a well-fitting mask when around others for an additional 5 days (through day 10). If you are unable to wear a mask around others, you should remain in isolation for a total of 10 days.
*Loss of taste and smell may persist for weeks or months after recovery and need not delay the end of isolation.
For assistance with determining the length of your isolation, use the CDC’s COVID-19 Isolation and Quarantine Calculator.
I have received all recommended vaccines for COVID-19. Do I still have to quarantine if I am exposed?
You do not need to quarantine after COVID-19 exposure if:
- you are up to date, meaning you have received all recommended vaccine doses, including boosters; and
- you are not experiencing any COVID-19 symptoms.
You should monitor yourself for symptoms and wear a well-fitting mask any time you are around others inside your home or in public for 10 full days from the date of your last close contact with someone with COVID-19 (the date of last close contact is considered day 0). You should get tested on or after day 5. If you test positive or develop COVID-19 symptoms, begin isolation immediately.
Some high-risk settings, such as hospitals and nursing homes, may have different guidelines and you should follow up with your employer regarding their policies.
Do I have to quarantine if I have already had COVID-19?
People who have tested positive for COVID-19 within the past 3 months and recovered do not have to quarantine or get tested again as long as they do not develop new symptoms. People who develop symptoms again within 3 months of their first bout of COVID-19 may need to be tested again if there is no other cause identified for their symptoms.
When is it safe to resume normal activities after I have been in isolation?
You should take precautions for a full 10 days. Day 0 is your first day of symptoms or a positive viral test if you do not have symptoms. Day 1 is the first full day after your symptoms developed or your test specimen was collected. If you have COVID-19 or have symptoms, isolate for at least 5 days.
You should stay home for 5 days, isolate yourself from others in your home, and wear a well-fitting mask if you must be around others in your home.
- If you had symptoms, end isolation after 5 full days if you are fever-free for 24 hours (without the use of fever-reducing medication) and your symptoms are improving*.
- If you did NOT have symptoms, End isolation after at least 5 full days after your positive test.
After completing isolation, you should wear a well-fitted mask for an additional 5 days any time you are around others inside your home or in public. Do not go to places where you are unable to wear a mask.
If you were severely ill with COVID-19, you should isolate for at least 10 days. Consult your doctor before ending isolation.
*Loss of taste and smell may persist for weeks or months after recovery and need not delay the end of isolation.
For assistance with determining the length of your isolation, use the CDC’s COVID-19 Isolation and Quarantine Calculator.
When is it safe to resume normal activities after I have been in quarantine?
You may resume normal activities 10 days after exposure if you do not develop symptoms or test positive after your exposure to someone with COVID-19. The date of your exposure is considered day 0. Day 1 is the first full day after your last contact with a person who has had COVID-19.
Stay home and away from other people for at least 5 days if you are NOT up-to-date on your COVID-19 vaccinations. Through day 10 you should wear a well-fitted mask at any time you are around others inside your home or in public, and you should not go to places where you are unable to wear a mask during this 10 day period.
It is also highly recommended that you get tested 5 days after your last exposure. If you test positive, or if you develop COVID-19 symptoms at any point during the 10 days after your last exposure, begin isolation immediately and let your close contacts know they have been exposed to COVID-19.
For assistance with determining the length of your quarantine, use the CDC’s COVID-19 Isolation and Quarantine Calculator.
How soon after a positive COVID-19 test can I travel?
Do not travel until a full 10 days have passed after your symptoms started, or the date your positive test was taken if you had no symptoms.
Will my positive COVID-19 test results be reported to anyone?
Yes. Under Maryland law, positive COVID-19 test results will be reported to the Maryland Department of Health and your local Health Department. However, your information will not be shared with the public, or when talking to people you name as having had close contact with you.
What symptoms require medical attention right away?
Call 911 or go to the nearest emergency care provider if you have:
- Trouble breathing
- Persistent pain or pressure in the chest
- New confusion
- Inability to wake or stay awake
- Pale, gray, or blue-colored skin, lips, or nail beds, depending on skin tone
Let 911 or the provider know you have COVID-19. This will help them know how to care for you and keep other people from getting infected.
How can I protect my family or caregivers while recovering from COVID-19 at home?
Try to stay away from others as much as possible. Try to stay in one room and, if you can, don’t use the same bathroom as them. If you need to be around others, wear a face covering and have them wear one too. Everyone should wash their hands often. Avoid sharing anything like dishes, towels, or bedding. Make sure all high touch areas are disinfected every day. See Caring for Someone Sick at Home.
How do I get a letter to excuse me from work or school?
The Maryland Department of Health (MDH) can provide excuse letters for people who participate in contact tracing, which happens when positive test results are reported to MDH. COVID tests administered by a provider or conducted at a pharmacy or community test site are reported to MDH automatically.
To report your recent positive at-home test result to MDH and initiate the contact tracing process, you can do one of two things:
- If your at-home test includes a mobile app you can use that to report your positive results.
- Visit the Maryland COVID Positive At-Home Test Report Portal website to report your positive result to MDH.
If you need an excuse letter, please call the state contact tracing call center at (240) 466-4488 or (800) 559-6410.
How do I get a letter so I can return to work or school?
Contact tracers can provide a letter to release you from quarantine/isolation. In order to receive a release letter, you must have completed a web survey or phone interview with a contact tracer and successfully completed your isolation or quarantine monitoring period. If you need a release letter, please call the state contact tracing call center at (240) 466-4488 or (800) 559-6410.