What is COVID-19?
Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that cause illness in people, animals, or both. Novel coronavirus (COVID-19) is a new disease caused by a coronavirus that was not previously seen in humans, called SARS-CoV-2 (severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2).
How do people become infected?
As far as we know now, people can become infected by:
- Being coughed, sneezed, or breathed on by an infected person; respiratory droplets are produced, which can land in mouths or noses of people nearby.
- Inhaling airborne aerosols, which remain suspended in the air for several hours, unseen to the human eye.
- Touching a contaminated surface or object that has the virus on it, and then touching your mouth, nose, or eyes.
What are the symptoms of COVID-19?
Symptoms of COVID-19 range from mild to severe, and may include:
- New loss of taste or smell
- Sore throat
- Shortness of breath
- Nausea or vomiting
- Muscle or body aches
- Congestion or runny nose
Symptoms may begin between 2-14 days after exposure. Some people infected with the virus experience no symptoms (asymptomatic infection), but can still transmit the virus to others.
Who is eligible for the vaccine?
Currently in New York State, anyone who is 16 years of age or older and resides, works, or studies in NYS is eligible for the vaccine. For more details, please visit: https://covid19vaccine.health.ny.gov/
As of May 6, 2021, there are three vaccines available: Pfizer, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson. Use of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine was previously on pause, but after a safety review by the CDC, FDA, and the NYS Clinical Advisory Task Force, use of the J&J vaccine has resumed.
If the vaccines aren’t as effective against new variants, then what’s the point in getting vaccinated?
Virus mutation is very normal – the virus mutates every time it moves from host to host. Many mutations are inconsequential, and the virus still looks and functions just as its parent did before. However, over time, sets of mutations can “layer” on top of each other, and the virus can begin to function differently – for example, increased transmissibility. The more people in a population are vaccinated, the less chance the virus has to mutate, because by vaccinating the population, we are limiting the number of susceptible hosts for the virus to move to. Therefore, even if vaccines are less effective against specific variants, having a large percentage of the population vaccinated will still help drive down the transmission—even among the new variants.
Should I still be wearing a mask after I am vaccinated?
Yes! It will take some time for the vaccine’s effectiveness to build up. With the two-shot vaccines, you are considered partially vaccinated after the first dose, and only fully vaccinated two weeks after the second dose.
Additionally, no vaccine is 100% effective, and we are still learning whether the vaccines prevent transmission of the SARS-CoV-2 virus to unvaccinated people. For more information on mask-wearing for vaccinated people, visit https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019ncov/vaccines/fullyvaccinated.html.
Instead of getting vaccinated, can I just wait for other people to get vaccinated, and be protected by herd immunity?
The problem with that approach is that if everyone else thinks that way, then nobody will get vaccinated, and we are back to the beginning.
How can we successfully control the spread of the virus indoors?
Outdoors, masking, and social distancing are usually sufficient to control the spread of SARS-CoV-2. However, indoor control requires a different set of strategies. Limiting the spread of SARS-CoV-2 indoors will require a combination of mechanical ventilation, occupancy limits, and masking. For more information on ventilation, visit https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/ventilation.html.
Who can I contact for more information?
- Centers for Disease Control:
- English/Spanish 800-232-4636
- Other Languages 877-696-6775
- NYS Department of Health Novel Coronavirus Hotline: 888-364-3065
Updated May 6, 2021