Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)


What is COVID-19 and how can we help prevent the spread?

What is COVID-19?

COVID-19 is a coronavirus. Coronaviruses are a family of viruses that usually cause mild symptoms, like a common cold. Two coronaviruses — Middle Eastern Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) —  have caused more severe illness. COVID-19 disease is caused by a new strain of the virus that has not previously been seen in humans. 

How does COVID-19 spread?

COVID-19 is spread when people touch or breathe in droplets made when ill people cough, sneeze or talk. This can happen when someone is close to a sick person, within six feet. Rarely, people might catch COVID-19 by touching a surface that a person with the infection coughed or sneezed on, and then touching their own mouth, nose or eyes.

It’s important to note that person-to-person spread can happen on a continuum. Some viruses are highly contagious (like measles), while other viruses are less so.

Can someone who has had COVID-19 spread it to others?

The virus that causes COVID-19 is spreading from person-to-person. Someone who is actively sick with COVID-19 can spread the illness to others. That is why Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommends that these patients be isolated either in the hospital or at home (depending on how sick they are) until they are better and no longer pose a risk of infecting others.

How long someone is actively sick can vary so the decision on when to release someone from isolation is made on a case-by-case basis by public health and their health care provider in accordance with CDC guidance.

Click here for current CDC guidance 

Someone who has been released from isolation is not considered to pose a risk of infection to others.

What are the symptoms of COVID-19?

Illness develops 2 to 14 days after someone got infected with COVID-19.

Symptoms may include fever, sore throat, dry cough, shortness of breath, body aches and fatigue. Fever may not be present in the very young, very old, immunosuppressed, or people taking fever-reducing medications.

Gastrointestinal symptoms have been reported by some patients prior to developing fever and lower respiratory symptoms. Some patients have also reported a loss of smell or taste prior to developing fever and lower respiratory symptoms.

Seniors and people with underlying health conditions would be at greater risk of severe disease.

What should I do if I believe I have been exposed to COVID-19?

If you have symptoms like a cough, fever or breathing problems and you might have been exposed to COVID-19, please contact your health care provider. Your provider will ask you about your symptoms and will decide whether you should be seen in the office. 

If the doctor asks you to come in to the clinic, they will likely create a plan for you to enter the facility in a way that avoids being around others, to prevent the spread of illness.

There is information for people who have had close contact with a person confirmed to have, or being evaluated for, COVID-19 available online at the CDC website.

How can I avoid getting sick?

Steps you can take to prevent the spread of flu and the common cold can also help prevent the spread of the coronavirus COVID-19.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water. Use hand sanitizer if you don't have access to soap and water.
  • Avoid touching your face, especially eyes, nose and mouth.
  • Stay home if you are sick. Avoid contact with people who are sick.
  • Cover your coughs and sneezes. Throw used tissues in the trash promptly.
  • Take care of your health by eating well, getting adequate sleep, exercising and managing stress will also help your body stay resilient.
  • Get vaccinated for COVID-19

Why should I use a face covering to prevent COVID-19?

There are detailed recommendations for healthcare providers to protect themselves using special types of masks and other equipment.

Oregon Mask Requirements

Post-Vaccine Guidance

We wear face coverings to help slow the spread of COVID-19. Face coverings help us keep our respiratory droplets to ourselves, which means people who wear them prevent spreading the virus to others.   Some people are contagious before they ever get symptoms and some never feel sick. They can spread the disease unknowingly.  Once you have a viral infection, wearing a face covering does not make it worse or make it last longer. It does, however, help you keep from spreading or passing it on it to others.

There are many types of face coverings, scarves, bandanas, and homemade coverings with loops that go over the ears.  Be sure your face covering fits well and covers your nose and mouth.  Wash your hands before and after touching your face covering and wash it daily.

Face coverings don’t cause enough carbon dioxide build-up to cause ill effects in otherwise healthy people. In fact, masks have a tighter seal than face coverings, and farm workers, custodial staff, and hospital employees all wear them to stay safe in their workplaces.

Remember, though, that the following people should not wear face coverings:

• Children under age 2 years

• Anyone who has a medical condition that makes it hard to breathe when wearing a face covering.

• Anyone who has a disability that prevents the individual from wearing a face covering.

How can we help prevent the spread of COVID-19 in our community?

Get vaccinated for COVID-19

In addition wearing a face covering is one of the best way to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in our community.  Face coverings reduce the chance that you could unknowingly spread the virus to those around you.

Following other recommendations like frequent hand washing, hand sanitizing, regular cleaning of high touch surfaces, maintaining 6' of physical distance and not touching your face (eyes, nose and mouth) can all help prevent the spread.

The CDC has provided guidance for how individual households, schools, child cares, colleges/ universities, community- and faith-based organizations, and workplaces can participate in keeping our community healthy. Everyone has a role to play! 

How can I get tested for COVID-19?

COVID-19 Testing is now widely available.  Visit the Community Testing page for information on clinical and surveillance (asymptomatic) testing sites.

Clinicians can order COVID-19 testing at their discretion. Public Health approval is not needed for this testing. Factors to consider include patient symptoms, underlying medical conditions, and contact with confirmed COVID-19 patients.

Currently, there are two types of tests used locally that are approved by the FDA to diagnose active cases.

1.     A molecular RT-PCR test that finds genetic material.

2.     An antigen test that looks for specific proteins on the surface of the virus.


Antibody tests are a third kind of test and are not approved for diagnosis; as they don’t tell us if the infection is active or not.


New FDA approved tests are being added regularly. You can find more information about them here. Please consult with your medical provider to find the appropriate test for you.

Will Lane County Public Health investigate positive COVID-19 cases to see if it spread?

Yes.  Lane County Public health will conduct a Communicable Disease Investigation of every confirmed or presumptive case of COVID-19. 

This begins with a contact investigation, which includes establishing a timeline for when the patient started feeling sick, any traveling they might have done, who they might have had contact with in the days before they got sick, and who they may have come into contact with after they got sick.

Contact investigations are conducted by a trained communicable disease nurse and your medical information is protected by HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act).

This process helps keep our community safe by making sure those people who need to be quarantined do so and helps us understand the way the disease behaves and how it is moving through the community.

More information including resources for isolation & quarantine is available on our Contact Tracing page.

Additional questions about COVID-19

Can I be evicted for non-payment of rent during the COVID-19 pandemic?

Please see the Long-Term Recovery / Housing, Energy Assistance & Social Services Recovery page for up to date information on eviction moratoriums and rental assistance.

Local legal resources for renters include:

Access the Law

Oregon Law Center

My employer said that I need clearance to return to work.

Lane County Public Health does not recommend back to work verification for any employee in Lane County.

Employees are encouraged to follow the advice of their healthcare provider. Oregon Health Authority guidelines state the employee should not be in the workplace until the following criteria have been met: 24 hours has passed since recovery  (defined as resolution of fever without the use of fever-reducing medications and improvement in respiratory symptoms); and at least 10 days have passed since symptoms first appeared. This will help reduce the strain on our medical and hospital systems.

Lane County Public Health cannot provide clearance for return to work. Only your medical provider can order testing for COVID-19. 
You can find more information from the Bureau of Labor and Industries (BOLI) regarding sick time laws and other employer and employee resources.

I’m an employer. Will I be notified if my employee is being monitored or tested for COVID-19?

Patient privacy laws severely restrict the amount of information that public health officials can share about individual patients.

If a patient under investigation for potential COVID-19 transmission was found to have reported to work within the potential window of transmission their place of employment would become part of the investigation. In that case, Lane County Public Health would reach out to the business owner/operator.

If, during the course of a Communicable Disease Investigation (see FAQ above), it is determined that your business or place of work is a possible public contact exposure location a wider community notification with the date, time a place would occur.

In both cases, the employer may not know or have confirmed which employee is under investigation.

We ask that everyone respect patient privacy and refrain from sharing personal details even if the information is shared by non-Public Health sources. Providing personal details can compromise the safety of the person being investigated.
More Information on Contact Tracing for Businesses can be found here.

What do I do if I have concerns about a business or individual not following State guidelines?

Business Complaints Through The State

If you have concerns that a business is not properly adhering to the State guidance, you can submit a form through Oregon Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) at

The Oregon Department of Agriculture (ODA) is the lead agency related to grocery and convenience stores. Consumer complaints regarding customer behavior or a lack of customer social distancing in the retail environment should be directed to:

Violations of the order can be treated as a class C misdemeanor, punishable by up to 30 days in jail and a $1,250 fine.

Local Compliance

Once you have reached out to these state agencies, if you would like to continue to pursue your business-related concern locally, you can contact the Lane County Non-Emergency COVID-19 Call Center at 541-682-1380 or email We strive to be responsive with a strong emphasis on education.

Community members should refrain from calling 9-1-1 if they have non-emergency needs. If you have a complaint about failure to follow the State guidance that is not related to a business, please contact your local city government or law enforcement provider using their non-emergency phone numbers. If you live in unincorporated Lane County, please call the call center number during business hours.

I’m concerned about recent/upcoming travel.

The CDC is monitoring the spread of COVID-19 worldwide and how countries are responding to it. Check the CDC travel information for guidance on international travel. 

Lane County recommends limiting travel to essential trips.

If you have recently traveled outside of your local area consider isolating at home for 14 days or minimizing contacts as much as possible. 

If at any point you develop symptoms like a fever, cough or breathing problems, please call your healthcare provider. They will assess your symptoms, may ask about travel history and will determine if you need to be tested for COVID-19.

If you test positive for COVID-19 case investigators will ask you about all recent travel.

How can I help?

The most important thing that people can do is to get vaccinated for COVID-19 and encourage others to get vaccinated.

It is also helpful to continue to make healthy decisions and follow the guidance provided by public health regarding masking, social distancing, gatherings and staying home when sick.

What are other trusted sources of information related to COVID-19?


All Oregonians ages 12 and over are eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine.  (Pfizer for ages 12+, Moderna or Johnson & Johnson for ages 18+)

Information on vaccination clinics in Lane County can be found here:
Vaccine Clinics
Clinicas de vacunas

Will the vaccine will be mandatory?

When a vaccine is authorized for emergency use, patients need to agree to receive it. There are no plans for Lane County to mandate the COVID-19 vaccine.

Will children be vaccinated against COVID-19?

At this point the Emergency Use Authorizations are for ages 12 and over.  In the future, COVID-19 vaccines may be approved for use among younger children.

The current Emergency Use Authorizations (EUAs) from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) do not allow for children under 12 (Pfizer) or under 18 (Moderna and Janseen (Johnson & Johnson)) to be vaccinated.  

My permanent residence is in another state, but I'm staying in Oregon (student, multiple homes, staying with family, etc.). Can I get my vaccine in Oregon?

If you are currently residing in Oregon you may get your vaccine in Oregon.   

This includes individuals needing only a second dose.  You can receive your second dose here.

Will I be asked about my immigration status to receive the vaccine?

No.  All eligible community members are able to receive a vaccine, regardless of your immigration and citizenship status. Vaccine providers should not be asking about your immigration status. The Biden/Harris administration has declared that all vaccine sites are sensitive locations and immigration enforcement agencies will not carry out operations at or near such facilities, which also include health care facilities and hospitals.

Testing and treatment for COVID-19 (including vaccination) will not count against you for the public charge test. 
The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) made a special announcement about this. Also, not all immigrants are subject to the public charge test.

I’m pregnant. Can I get a COVID-19 vaccination?

You may choose to get the vaccine in consultation with your medical provider’s help in making an informed decision.

Can a person receive the COVID-19 vaccine while they are sick?

Those with mild illness may receive the vaccines with no effect on vaccine safety or effectiveness. However, it is better that you recover from your illness, with no symptoms, before getting vaccines to keep from spreading your illness to health care workers who are administering the vaccine.

If I’ve had COVID-19 and recovered, do I need to get the vaccine?

Due to the severe health risks associated with the disease and the fact that re-infection is possible, people may be advised to get a COVID-19 vaccine even if they have been sick with the disease before. According to the CDC, COVID-19 vaccination should be offered to people regardless of a history of COVID-19 infection, with or without symptoms.

I just received another vaccine. Can I still get the COVID-19 vaccine?

None of the currently authorized COVID-19 vaccines are live virus vaccines. Because data are lacking on the safety and efficacy of COVID-19 vaccines administered simultaneously with other vaccines, the vaccine series should routinely be administered alone, with a minimum interval of 14 days before or after administration of any other vaccine.

However, COVID-19 and other vaccines may be administered within a shorter period in situations where the benefits of vaccination are deemed to outweigh the potential unknown risks of vaccine co-administration.  

Vaccination Records

I've lost my vaccination card, how do I get another one?

Your immunization was recorded in the state ALERT immunization record system. 

If you need a copy of your vaccine information the quickest and easiest way is to complete the form below and email to or print and mail to:

800 NE Oregon Street
Suite 370
Portland, Oregon 97232

You can also request a copy of records from your pharmacy, primary care provider who can access the ALERT system.

Form for requesting records.

 More information on ALERT immunization records can be found here.


Lane County Public Health is limited in our ability to provide you with a copy of your COVID-19 immunization records at this time.  The above resources will provide you with a record more quickly than we are currently able to.

Is my vaccine recorded if I received it out of state?

If you received your vaccine outside of Oregon it is unlikely that your vaccine provider was able to record that vaccine in the Oregon ALERT System   We encourage you to contact your primary care provider (in Oregon) who can add your proof of vaccination from another state into your ALERT history here in Oregon. If you need a record of your vaccine from another state you will need to contact your vaccine provider in that state.  

If you received your vaccine in any county in Oregon your vaccine should already be accurately recorded in the ALERT system. 

Updating your out-of-state vaccination record in ALERT helps us achieve our local vaccination goals and provides public health with a more complete picture of vaccinations in Lane County.

Vaccine Distribution and Appointments

When and where can I be vaccinated?


All Oregonians ages 12 and over are eligible to receive the vaccine.  


Visit our COVID-19 Vaccine Clinics (o Clinicas de vacunapage to find a list of walk-in clinics,  schedule an appointment and find links to pharmacies and other local providers.

What happened to preregistration?

You no longer need to Preregister/register or even make an appointment.  You can visit our COVID-19 Vaccine Clinics  (o Clinicas de vacuna) page to find a walk-in clinic, schedule an appointment and find links to pharmacies and providers who are vaccinating.

Will I be required to pay or have insurance to receive the vaccine?

No. There is no cost for the COVID-19 vaccine and you do not need to have insurance.

The vaccine will be covered by Medicare, Medicaid, and most private insurance. The cost of the vaccine will be covered for people who are uninsured.

How do I get vaccinated if I am homebound or need assistance with transportation?

There is a COVID-19 vaccination program for homebound individuals.  If you are homebound please call or email Lane County ( or 541-682-1380) and provide a minimum of your address and phone number.  Lane County works with state who will contact you and schedule a time to come to your home and provider your vaccination. 

Lane County can assist with transportation to a vaccine clinic.  To access this assistance schedule an appointment and check the box on the scheduling form that says you need transportation assistance (bottom of the name & demographics page).  Our team will then reach out to you to determine what assistance is needed and help coordinate low or no-cost transportation.  You can also call or email us and we can connect you with our transportation assistance team: or 541-682-1380.

I live in a rural area - Where can I get vaccinated?

We have been distributing vaccine to our rural areas through medical providers, pharmacies and smaller public health clinic events.  

Visit our COVID-19 Vaccine Clinics 
 (o Clinicas de vacunapage to schedule an appointment or find links to pharmacies near you who are vaccinating. 

We understand the challenges of receiving medical care in rural areas and are working to make vaccine available as easily and quickly as possible for rural residents.

Vaccine Development, Reactions and Side Effects

Why should I get a COVID-19 vaccination?

Vaccination is a safe, effective and reliable way to prevent getting infected with COVID-19. It’s the best tool we have to help us end the COVID-19 pandemic in Oregon. By getting vaccinated, wearing masks, washing our hands, staying physically distant and avoiding large indoor gatherings we can help stop the spread. If enough of us get vaccinated, we can achieve community immunity and the virus will not spread quickly.

How soon after administration will the vaccine become effective?

Clinical trials measured the effectiveness of COVID-19 vaccines.

Moderna and Pfizer both have some effectiveness after one shot but require a second shot for maximum effectiveness.

The Moderna vaccine is 94% effective two weeks after a person receives the second shot. The Pfizer vaccine is 95% effective one week after the second shot.

In its review of Johnson & Johnson’s (Janssen) application, the FDA reported the vaccine was 66% effective for moderate to severe/critical COVID-19 in all groups across all regions studied starting at 28 days after vaccination. The observed efficacy in the United States was 72%.
“The best thing is that this one-dose vaccine was 85% efficacious in preventing severe COVID-19,” Paul Cieslak, M.D, medical director for communicable diseases and immunization, OHA Public Health Division.

How does the COVID-19 vaccine work?

The 3 authorized vaccines give our cells instructions for how to make a harmless protein that is unique to the virus. Our bodies recognize that the protein should not be there and build T-lymphocytes and B-lymphocytes that will remember how to fight the virus that causes COVID-19 if we are infected in the future.

Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines, store the instructions in single-stranded RNA. These are called mRNA vaccines or messenger-RNA vaccines.

The Johnson & Johnson vaccine uses double-stranded DNA to store the instructions.  It is a viral vector vaccine

The CDC has additional information on how mRNA and viral vector vaccines work.
CDC mRNA COVID-19 Vaccines
CDC Viral Vector COVID-19 Vaccines

Are the vaccines interchangeable?


Though Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are made the same way, people must get the same second dose from the same manufacturer of the first.

The Johnson & Johnson (Janssen) vaccine is a single dose vaccine.

All three vaccines are effective and stop the spread of virus, we recommend that people should take whichever vaccine is first available to them. 

If you have questions or concerns about your individual health situation they should be discuss with your health care provider.

Are the COVID-19 vaccines safe?

Thanks to advances in medicine, scientists were able to create and test a vaccine quickly. The Food & Drug Administration (FDA) requires rigorous safety testing before it will approve any vaccine. Tens of thousands of people — including Oregonians — from many backgrounds, ages and communities of color, participated in vaccine testing.

What does Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) mean? In times of a public health emergency, like a pandemic, the FDA allows the use of certain life-saving drugs and treatments through Emergency Use Authorization. The COVID-19 vaccine was tested in tens of thousands of study participants, which generated enough data to convince the FDA that the vaccine is safe and effective, and the manufacturer producing the vaccine meets all safety standards.

Should people with significant allergic reactions not get the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine?

Being allergic to one thing does not mean that you’re allergic to another. People who have an allergic reaction to a component of the COVID-19 vaccine should not receive it. 

To view the ingredients of the vaccines, please visit the manufacturer websites or view the FDA Emergency Use Authorization Fact Sheets.

Was the vaccine was rushed to market and was it adequately tested for safety?

COVID-19 vaccines have been evaluated extensively in large-scale clinical trials. FDA will authorize their use only after reviewing this data. 

For more information on the safety, effectiveness and vaccination trials, visit

Is it true the vaccine is not FDA approved?

During a pandemic, a vaccine may receive Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) before being approved through a standard application. The FDA Commissioner may authorize medical products or unapproved uses of approved medical products to be used in a public health emergency to diagnose, treat or prevent serious or life-threatening diseases or conditions when there are no available alternatives, and when the benefits of using a new medical product outweigh their risks. 

For more information visit:

FDA Website
OHA Website

Do the COVID-19 vaccines contain a live virus?

The current vaccines do not contain live virus.

What are the COVID-19 vaccine’s side effects?

According to the FDA, the most common side effects found in the COVID-19 vaccine trials included pain, redness or swelling at the injection site, fatigue, headache, chills, muscle pain and joint pain. For more information visit the CDC’s site: What to Expect After Getting a COVID-19 Vaccine

What if I have a bad reaction to my COVID-19 vaccination?

CDC and FDA encourage the public to report possible side effects (called adverse events) to the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS) . This national system collects these data to look for adverse events that are unexpected, appear to happen more often than expected or have unusual patterns of occurrence.

Visit The CDC VAERS Webpage to learn about the difference between a vaccine side effect and an adverse event and how reports to VAERS help CDC monitor the safety of vaccines. Safety is a top priority.

We also recommend using the V-safe After Vaccination Health Checker to share your side effects with the CDC as part of ongoing vaccine safety monitoring.

Is it true the vaccine won’t help your body build immunity the same way getting the virus will?

The body builds immunity to COVID-19 in a different way with the vaccine than through infection.

The vaccine helps build immunity without having to get the disease, which can be serious and even fatal.

Are mRNA vaccines more dangerous than other vaccines? Can mRNA vaccines alter your DNA?

Messenger RNA (mRNA) vaccines appear to cause short-term side effects more often than many other vaccines. But these side effects do not appear to be lasting.  Moderna & Pfizer are both mRNA vaccines.

Messenger RNA (mRNA) vaccines work by teaching cells in the body how to make a protein that triggers an immune response, according to the CDC. Messenger RNA injected into your body will not interact with or affect your cells’ DNA. 

Once I get the COVID-19 vaccine, can I stop other safety measures like masking and physical distancing?

As of May 14, 2021, the CDC has relaxed guidance on wearing a mask for persons who have been fully vaccinated in many situations. However, in Lane County we still follow the guidance from the Oregon Health Authority. For more information on situations where masking is required, please visit

You can find more post vaccine guidance here: Post Vaccine Guidance

Are both doses of the COVID-19 vaccine the same amount? Is the second dose less or more than the first dose?

For the two dose vaccines (Pfizer & Modern) both doses are the same amount.  Your immune response may be different to each dose.

Johnson & Johnson (Janssen) requires only a single dose.

Where can I find more information regarding vaccine development and safety information?

Middle Fork Complex Fire -

Evacuation and Safety Information