COVID-19 Q&A Center

Frequently asked questions

COVID-19 Q&A

We know the past year has held uncertainty and major lifestyle shifts due to the COVID-19 outbreak. With vaccines starting to roll out, it’s not surprising that we are feeling a mixed bag of emotions about what is happening in our community. With that in mind, we want to repurpose this page as a Q&A Center for our patients and neighbors.

We sat down with family medicine doctors Jlyn Pritchard, DO and Steve Jacobson, MD to address some vaccination questions they are hearing from patients and community members— how it works, considerations to make, and what to expect.

We know there are still a lot of unanswered questions and concerns out there. If you would like to ask a medical question about COVID-19 or the COVID-19 vaccines, please give us a call and we will connect you with one of our providers.

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Vaccine Questions
How do the mRNA vaccines work?

The mRNA vaccines essentially give your body instructions on how to recognize the COVID-19 virus and how to fight it off. It does this by using messenger RNA, or mRNA, to send these instructions to your body. After those instructions are delivered, your body naturally breaks down the mRNA.

The mRNA vaccines do not contain the COVID-19 virus, so you can’t get COVID-19 from your vaccine. The vaccine also cannot change your DNA. You may experience mild symptoms after getting vaccinated, like mild fever, headache, or chills. This means the vaccine is working!

To learn more about how mRNA vaccines work, visit the CDC website.

Is one vaccine preferential to others?

The preferred vaccination is the one you can get. Most of them are similar in efficacy against the “original” COVID-19 strain, although there are slight variations in how effective they are against circulating variants. Even with variants, vaccines drastically reduce the severity of infection, keeping people out of the hospital. Remember: our goal with vaccination is to stay alive and be able to get over COVID-19 effectively if we do get it.

What are the side effects of the COVID-19 vaccine?

After receiving the vaccine, your arm may be sore, red, or warm to the touch. Some people report getting a headache or fever afterward. These symptoms usually go away on their own within a few days. The mild side effects are a sign that your immune system is doing exactly what it's supposed to do: developing antibodies to protect against COVID-19.

You should get the second dose even if you experienced mild side effects from the first dose unless your physician instructs you otherwise.

Who shouldn’t get vaccinated?

Although a small number of people experience anaphylaxis — a severe allergic reaction — this is extremely rare. After you receive the vaccine, you'll be asked to stay for 15 minutes for observation in the unlikely event that you need immediate treatment for a reaction.

Anyone who has experienced a severe allergic reaction to any mRNA vaccine or polysorbate should not be vaccinated. Although polysorbate is not an ingredient in the current vaccines, it is similar to polyethylene glycol, which is a part of other vaccines.

What if I have an autoimmune condition?

COVID-19 vaccinations are recommended even for people with autoimmune conditions, or who have had Guillain-Barré syndrome. If you have concerns, talk with your provider to make an informed decision.

I’m pregnant. Should I get vaccinated?

Patients who are pregnant have an elevated risk for COVID-19. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) has published guidelines for vaccination. They recommend that COVID-19 vaccines should NOT be withheld from pregnant individuals who otherwise meet the criteria for vaccination.

If I have had COVID-19, do I still need to get vaccinated?

The short answer is yes

One of the most troubling things about this virus is its unpredictable nature. Some people get very sick, some people barely have a sniffle. We are still finding out more about this situation as we go along, but the CDC has found that people who were infected with COVID-19 and recovered can be re-infected, although this is rare. With a vaccine, you’re safeguarding yourself from a more aggressive re-infection.

Does the COVID-19 vaccination cost me anything?

No, you will have no out-of-pocket costs to get your vaccine.

Testing
Can I get a COVID-19 test at Vivacity Care Center?

Yes, all of our care centers can test for COVID-19. However, the type of test that best suits your symptoms and situation is determined by your provider. If you are experiencing symptoms or think you have been exposed to COVID-19, please call Vivacity Care Center or your primary care provider for testing or an evaluation.

Can I go to a lab or emergency room to get tested for COVID-19?

To avoid possible spread, you should not go to a lab for testing without an order from your doctor. Do not go to the emergency room unless you are having a medical emergency.

What happens if I feel sick but don’t need or want the test?

You can always contact your provider at Vivacity Care Center. After discussing your symptoms, your provider may determine that you do not need to be tested for COVID-19. At this point, your doctor will help advise you on how to treat your symptoms from home, including taking medicine to reduce fever or other symptoms.

If you are experiencing COVID-19 symptoms, make sure you stay home and isolate yourself from others in your household. Stay in a specific “sick room” or area, and use a separate bathroom if available. Avoid contact with others and wear a mask when you are around others in your home. For more information, .

Is COVID-19 testing covered by insurance?

We know these are difficult times for many, and the worry about medical bills, especially as they relate to COVID-19, is great. To ease some of the burden, Premera Blue Cross and LifeWise Health Plan of Washington will be waiving cost shares including copays, deductibles, and coinsurance for all COVID-19 related testing and treatment.

Cost-share waivers for FDA-approved COVID-19 diagnostic testing and other virus/respiratory testing tied to a COVID-19 diagnosis are waived through July 20, 2021. Cost shares for Medicare Advantage members are waived for the healthcare provider visit and FDA-authorized COVID-19 diagnostic test for those who meet the criteria for testing (CMS guidance) through July 20, 2021.

What is a COVID-19 antibody test?

A COVID-19 antibody test looks for signs of the body’s defensive response, also called “antibodies,” to a COVID-19 infection. In general, antibodies can be found in the blood of people who are tested after an infection of any kind and show that they have had an immune response to the infection.

It’s important to know that “immune response” refers to the body’s immune system responding to an infection. It does not mean “immunity,” or safety from becoming infected again.

Can I get a COVID-19 antibody test at Vivacity Care Center?

Not at this time, and there are two reasons.

First, an antibody test isn’t useful as a diagnostic tool. The best-known, FDA-approved antibody test for COVID-19 will only show results after someone has been infected for about 10 to 14 days. In other words, it takes almost two weeks after a person has been infected to generate enough antibodies for an antibody test to detect them.

Second, it is still unknown whether the antibodies that result from SARS-CoV-2 (the virus that causes COVID-19) provide immunity from future COVID-19 infection. CDC scientists are conducting studies to better understand the level of antibodies needed for protection, the duration of that protection, and the factors associated with whether a person develops a protective antibody response.

Antibody tests are not generally covered by insurance. To learn more, call the number on the back of your insurance card.

Care During COVID-19
Can I still come into the care center for an urgent need?

Yes, we are offering in-person appointments as well as virtual appointments. However, some conditions and treatments cannot be done virtually and require an in-person appointment.

We have implemented new procedures to keep you safe during your in-person visit. You can learn more here.

Call Vivacity Care Center today and we’ll help determine if an in-person or virtual visit will best suit your needs.

How have in-person visits changed as a result of COVID-19?

Here are the specific changes we’ve made to keep you safe:

  • Pre-Visit Phone Screening: All patients will be screened for recent illness, travel, fever, or recent exposure to COVID-19 via phone before their visit. This will allow us to schedule your appointment for the right time of the day.
  • Family Members: To reduce exposure, we encourage that you do not bring family members with you to in-person visits.
  • Masks: We require all members to wear a mask when they visit the care center. Vivacity Care Center will provide a face covering for any patients who do not have a mask.
  • Waiting Room Changes: We’ve implemented enhanced cleaning practices, spaced out waiting room chairs, and provided other signage to ensure social distancing. All books, magazines, and brochures have been removed. Plexiglass has been installed at the front desk to help keep staff and patients safe.
What if I need a prescription? Can my provider give me one over a virtual appointment?

Yes. Your provider can write you a prescription for most medicines or request additional testing, such as x-rays and lab tests, by sending it electronically to the pharmacy or lab of your choice.

Can I refill my prescription early?

All insurance plans work differently but most are allowing earlier refills. Please call the number on the back of your medical insurance card to find out if you can refill your prescription early.

Can I schedule a health coaching appointment?

If you’ve had an initial visit at Vivacity Care Center, you can make a health coaching appointment any time, which can be held virtually or in person.

Can I schedule a virtual appointment with a behavioral health specialist?

You can only schedule a virtual appointment with a Vivacity Care Center behavioral health specialist if you already had an in-person appointment with a Vivacity Care Center provider. If you haven’t established care with a behavioral health specialist at Vivacity Care Center, contact customer service at the number on the back of your health plan ID card for additional options.

What should I do if I need to contact Vivacity Care Center after hours?

If you’re already a VCC existing patient, you can call your care center after-hours to talk to a registered nurse. And if necessary, they will transfer you to an on-call Vivacity Care Center provider.

What can I do to keep myself, my family, and my friends safe?

With vaccination rates on the rise, it’s tempting to be less vigilant about masks and social distancing. However, until we reach “herd immunity” levels in the adult population, the spread of COVID-19 and its impact on our communities remains high. The best way to prevent illness is to avoid being exposed to the virus. Please continue to wear a mask when in proximity to other people. Clean your hands often with soap and water for 20 seconds. Avoid close contact with people who are sick. Stay home if you are feeling ill.

Where can I learn more about COVID-19?

For all that you need to know, including travel advisories: cdc.gov/coronavirus

For specific questions, see the CDC’s FAQ section.

For information about COVID-19 in your state, search your state’s health department, which works with the CDC to monitor and implement all recommendations.

More information can be found at Spokane Regional Health District or Washington State Department of Health.