COVID-19 Testing, Care, and the Vaccine

Erie has COVID-19 vaccine appointments available for anyone age 5 and up! You do not have to be an Erie patient to get the vaccine at Erie.

Make an appointment for yourself and spread the word to your loved ones. The COVID-19 vaccine is the best tool we have to protect you and your loved ones from the worst of COVID.

There is new and developing guidance on a third dose of COVID-19 vaccine and COVID-19 "booster" shots for people who are already fully vaccinated. Click for more details.

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COVID Testing, Isolation, & Quarantine Guidance

Home Care Guidance for Viral Illness

If you have symptoms and aren’t feeling well, protect yourself and others with the following:

  • Continue to wear a mask around others and stay distanced from others – even at home
  • Avoid social gatherings
  • Remember to avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth
  • Wash your hands frequently
  • Clean surfaces and personal items regularly

To help with symptoms, you can try:

  • Drink warm fluids with honey (if over 1 year old) or warm apple juice (6 months or older). Avoid juices if diarrhea is present.
  • Drink warm broths
  • Use an air humidifier
  • Gargle with warm salt water 3-4 times per day
  • Use saline nasal spray for congestion, irritated nostrils, or sore throat
  • Take Tylenol or ibuprofen for fever or pain
  • Eat Pedialyte popsicles
  • For mild shortness of breath, lay on your belly if able

As a reminder, Erie is only able to provide medical advice for registered patients. Call your medical provider if:

  • You are experiencing symptoms and are moderately or severely immunocompromised OR 65 and older and not vaccinated
  • If you receive a positive test and are pregnant, or under 1 year old
  • You don't urinate in more than 8 hours
  • Your symptoms are getting worse 5 or more days into your illness
  • You have a fever over 101º F (38.3º C) that lasts for 96 hours or more, OR if your fever is over 104º F (40º C) and not responding to medication
  • You are unsure if you might be experiencing an emergency

Look for emergency warning signs* for COVID-19.
If someone is showing any of these signs, seek emergency medical care immediately:

  • 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

*This list is not all possible symptoms. Please call your medical provider for any other symptoms that are severe or concerning to you. As a reminder, Erie is only able to provide medical advice for registered patients.

When should I test for COVID-19?

  • When you have symptoms. Isolate and test as soon as symptoms appear.
  • When you have been exposed to someone with symptoms or who tested positive for COVID-19.  Plan to take precautions for 10 days. You should get tested 5 or 6 days after you were exposed, and then again 2 or 3 days later.
  • Just to know your status before or after a high-risk event, like going to an event with a lot of people, or traveling, or before a medical procedure.
 

Erie PCR Testing

Erie Family Health Centers is able to provide COVID-19 PCR testing for current Erie patients, with or without symptoms.

  • Testing is available same day or next day. You will receive your results within 2 to 4 business days.
  • Call Erie at 312-666-3494 to schedule a COVID-19 test. We are currently experiencing a high call volume and increased hold times, particularly on Monday mornings and during lunchtime.
  • Please make sure that Erie has your current email address and phone number when you make your appointment. The best way to receive test results from Erie is through email!
  • In 4 business days, please check both your email inbox and junk folder for an email from news@eriefamilyhealth.org. Do not send email to this email address.
  • If you are pregnant or your child is under 1 year old and your COVID result is positive, you will receive a call from Erie. All other positive results will be sent via email within 2 to 4 business days.
  • If your COVID-19 test is negative, you will receive an email or text message within 2 to 4 business days.
  • If you need a return to work, school, or daycare letter and did not receive one at the time of your appointment, please call us at 312-666-3494.

As you wait for your test results, it is important that you make sure you don’t get other people sick. Please read more here about what to do while you wait for results.

You most likely will not have to pay for your COVID-19 test.

  • If you do not have insurance, there should be no cost for a COVID-19 test.
  • The cost for a COVID-19 test is covered under most health insurance plans, including Medicaid.  If you have commercial insurance, please check to see if your plan covers COVID-19 testing.

If you test positive for COVID, have symptoms, and are 65+ and unvaccinated, please call Erie.

I have symptoms of COVID-19 infection

Some symptoms of COVID-19 infection are:

  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath/Difficulty breathing
  • Sore throat
  • Loss of taste or smell
  • Chills
  • Body aches
  • Diarrhea
  • Nausea
  • Nasal congestion/runny nose

If you have symptoms, plan to isolate while you wait for your test results.

If you were exposed to COVID-19, review the quarantine guidance under the section I was exposed.

If you currently have or have had any of these symptoms in the last two weeks, a negative test result does not mean that you do not have COVID-19. It is possible that it was a false negative.

  • Please review the quarantine guidance under the section I tested negative but I have symptoms.

If your symptoms are getting worse, especially if you have difficulty breathing, please call your medical provider. If you are an Erie patient please call us at 312-666-3494 to let us know.

I was exposed to COVID-19

Quarantine & Test Guidance
If you were exposed to COVID, quarantine. Plan to take precautions for 10 days. The best time to test depends on whether or not you have symptoms. If you do not have symptoms:

If you develop symptoms at any point take a test and stay home. If you test positive, isolate and review our guidance on testing positive.

Note: These are the CDC’s recommendations. However, your job or school might have different rules for how long you need to quarantine if you were exposed to COVID-19, so you should check with them.

I tested negative, but I have symptoms of COVID-19

Quarantine Guidance
If you have symptoms of COVID-19, but tested negative, Erie recommends that you STAY HOME from work, school or daycare (quarantine) until ALL of these things are true:

  • You have gone 24 hours without a fever without the use of medicines to reduce fever like Tylenol or Ibuprofen
  • You feel an improvement in symptoms (note: symptoms do not need to be completely gone)
  • You meet the criteria for return to work or school per your school/daycare/employer policies

Once all of these things are true, AND if you have not been exposed to someone who tested positive for COVID-19, you should be able to return to work, school, or daycare.

Notes:

If you have symptoms and a negative test result, it can be a good idea to re-test 1-2 days after your first test.

If you have no symptoms when you took the test, and later get symptoms, you should test again when your symptoms appear.

Your job or school might have different rules for how long you need to stay home if you have symptoms, so you should check with them.

Children under 2 years of age or any individuals who are unable to consistently wear a high quality/well-fitted mask must quarantine for a full 10 days and cannot leave isolation earlier than 10 days.

I tested positive for COVID-19

Isolation Guidance
If you test positive for COVID-19, isolate.

Everyone, regardless of symptoms or vaccination status should

  • Stay home for 5 full days
  • If possible, avoid contact with others in your household during this time. If not possible, everyone in your household should wear a mask.

IF, after DAY 5,

  • You have no symptoms OR
  • Your symptoms are getting better, AND 24 hours have passed without a fever (without the use of medicines to reduce fever like Tylenol or Ibuprofen),

THEN, you can leave your home with a mask on the following day. Continue to wear a well-fitting mask around others for 5 additional days.

IF, after DAY 5, your symptoms do not improve, stay home until symptoms are improved.

Example of how to count days if you have symptoms:
The first day of your symptoms is DAY 0. Start counting the days 1 FULL day AFTER your symptoms first start.

  • John has symptoms of COVID-19.
  • His symptoms started on January 1.
  • January 1 is symptom DAY 0.
  • January 2 is symptom DAY 1.
  • By January 6 (DAY 5 of symptoms), John's symptoms have improved, so he can return to work 24 hours later on January 7 (DAY 6). If you had a fever, wait 24 hours after your fever ends before you leave home.

NOTE: If you have no symptoms when you took the test, and later develop symptoms, you should isolate for 5 days after symptoms start.

Note: These are the CDC’s recommendations. However, your job or school might have different rules for how long you need to stay home if you test positive, so you should check with them. 

I was not exposed to COVID-19

If you were not near someone with COVID-19 and never felt sick, your negative test result means you did not have COVID-19 on the date of your test.

I got tested before a procedure

If you feel well but were tested ahead of your delivery or dental appointment, no further follow-up is needed. Your negative test will be in your medical record for your future healthcare needs.

COVID-19 Vaccine FAQs

Erie now has COVID-19 vaccine appointments available for anyone ages 5 and up.

Anyone under age 18 needs consent from a parent or legal guardian to receive the COVID-19 vaccine, unless they are pregnant, parenting or emancipated.

I lost my COVID-19 vaccine record. What do I do?

Request a new record through our website at your earliest convenience.

I'm worried about getting the vaccine.

We understand that some people may be concerned about getting vaccinated. This is the first time we’ve been faced with a situation like this in our lifetimes. And there have been times throughout history where our government and healthcare system has abused communities of color. All of this can lead to mistrust and concern.

We believe that COVID-19 vaccination is the best tool to help stop the pandemic, keep people from getting severely sick and dying, and to protect those around you who are vulnerable and not yet eligible for vaccination. You shouldn’t wait!

This seems too fast. How was a vaccine developed so quickly?

The COVID-19 vaccine development process included all the usual safety steps – none were skipped. The process was quicker than we’re used to for a few main reasons:

  • Scientists and public health experts around the entire world focused their efforts on the COVID-19 vaccine at the same time. This has not happened in our lifetimes!
  • Companies produced millions of vaccine doses at the same time as the clinical trials were happening – this way, we would not need to wait to actually make the vaccines at the end of the safety tests.
  • Scientists didn’t have to start from scratch. They used what they learned from previous coronavirus outbreaks like SARS in 2003 and MERS in 2012 to help figure out the science behind how the COVID vaccine works.
How well does the COVID-19 vaccine work?

All three vaccines available now are very effective at preventing severe illness, hospitalizations and death from COVID-19, even the more contagious Omicron variant. Currently unvaccinated people are more than 29 times more likely to be hospitalized with COVID. 

The vaccines are effective for all genders, races and ethnicities. This is very good news!

Is the COVID-19 vaccine safe?

Hundreds of millions of doses of COVID-19 vaccine have been given out across the United States with no more than a handful of reports of serious side effects.

Will I need more than one shot?

It depends on which brand of vaccine you get. Both the vaccine created by Pfizer and the vaccine created by Moderna require two doses.  After you receive the first dose, you will need to come back to Erie at least 21 days later to receive the second dose. While you might receive some protection after the first dose, neither vaccine is fully effective until one or two weeks after the second dose. 

The vaccine made by Johnson & Johnson requires only one dose. It is fully effective two weeks after you receive it. 

Will I need a booster shot?

To ensure the highest level of protection against severe COVID illness, one more additional or "booster" dose is recommended for the following groups:

Anyone over 18 years of age who received the 1-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine more than 2 months ago.

    • The FDA and CDC recommend that these people receive one dose of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine to help boost your protection from severe COVID illness.
  • Anyone age 12 or older who received their 2nd dose of Pfizer more than 5 months ago.
    • Erie is providing the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine for booster shots. CDC’s recommendations allow for this type of mix and match dosing for booster shots. (You may choose which COVID-19 vaccine you receive as a booster shot, and the Moderna vaccine is available at pharmacies around Chicago.)

Note: Anyone who has a moderate to severely compromised immune system is especially at risk for developing severe illness from COVID-19, and may not have built the same level of immunity to a 1- or 2-dose vaccine as compared to people who are not immunocompromised. These people are encouraged to receive an additional dose of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine at least 28 days after their last dose to get the strongest protection.  

Which vaccine is the best?

The best vaccine is the one that is most convenient for you. It is very important for all of us to get vaccinated as soon as possible. All three vaccines available to us now are very effective at preventing severe illness from COVID-19, hospitalization and death. 

Erie is now providing all three vaccines: Pfizer, Modern and Johnson & Johnson. You can choose which vaccine you would like to receive when you schedule your appointment.

What side effects might the vaccine cause?

The most common side effects reported by people who received the COVID-19 vaccine are:

  • Fatigue
  • Headache
  • Muscle or joint pain
  • Fever
  • Pain or swelling at the site of the injection (upper arm)

Most people report that the side effects are more noticeable after the second dose (if it is a two-dose vaccine). Any side effects typically go away after a day or two.

When will I be able to get the COVID-19 vaccine?

Erie has vaccine appointments easily available for anyone age 5* and up.

Give us a call at 312.666.3493 and we’ll help you get scheduled.  

*Please note that anyone under 18 years old must have consent from a parent or legal guardian in order to receive the COVID-19 vaccine, unless they are pregnant or parenting.

I'm young and healthy - I don't think I need to get vaccinated.

It isn’t true that only older adults and people with pre-existing conditions are at risk for getting really sick from COVID. As more and more older adults become fully vaccinated against COVID-19, the virus is still mutating and spreading rapidly among those who are not yet vaccinated – and this mostly includes young people. Hospitals are treating more cases of severe COVID-19 illness in young people than any other point in the pandemic. At the end of July 2021, people ages 18 - 49 made up the largest group of people hospitalized with COVID. 

To protect your own health, and the health of your friends and family, it is important that you don’t pass up vaccination now that it’s available to you! This quick shot, which is easier to access than ever, will allow you to safely return to in-person classes, activities, parties, concerts, etc. without the risk of getting sick, spreading COVID to anyone who might get really sick, or developing long-term health challenges that can come after a COVID diagnosis.

Can't I just skip the vaccine and wait until enough other people are immune?

COVID-19 can be serious, and even deadly, and there is no way to know how the virus will affect you. And even if you catch the virus and don’t get very sick, you could still spread the disease to friends, family, and others around you. COVID-19 has proven to have much more serious symptoms than the side effects of the COVID-19 vaccine. The vaccine is by far the safer bet.  Public health experts say that it would be well after 2021 for enough people in the US to become naturally immune to COVID-19, and that without a vaccine, hundreds of thousands more people will die.

I have allergies. Should I still get the vaccine?

The only people who cannot receive the COVID-19 vaccine are people with a history of severe allergies to its ingredients. Anyone with a history of severe allergic reaction (anaphylaxis) can still receive the vaccine but will be monitored for 15 minutes longer after vaccination to ensure they are safe. People with mild to moderate allergies to food, the environment or medications are still highly encouraged to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. If you have further questions, talk to your healthcare provider.

Can I get the vaccine if I am pregnant or breastfeeding?

Yes! The CDC recommends the COVID-19 vaccine for people who are pregnant and breastfeeding. 

I heard the vaccine can cause infertility. Is this true?

There is currently no evidence that any vaccines, including COVID-19 vaccines, cause fertility problems.  If you are trying to become pregnant, you do not need to avoid pregnancy after receiving a COVID-19 vaccine.

I already had COVID-19. Do I still need to get the vaccine?

Yes, you should. After you have recovered from COVID-19, scientists do not yet know how long you are immune from catching COVID-19 again. The vaccine will be your best protection.

If I get the vaccine can I stop wearing a mask and social distancing?

Even if you are fully vaccinated, you must continue to wear a mask in public indoor settings outside of your household, such as the grocery store. However, you will not need to wear a mask when visiting indoors with other fully vaccinated people or when participating in small activities outdoors. You must continue to wear a mask when outdoors and in crowded settings and venues, such as a ball game or music festival.

Do you have to be a US citizen to get the COVID-19 vaccine at Erie?

No. Erie provides all of our care, including the COVID-19 vaccine when it is available, regardless of a person’s immigration status.

What does the COVID-19 vaccine cost?

The COVID-19 vaccine is free for everyone, with or without insurance.

 

Resources and Planning

Food, Rent, and Utilities Assistance Resources

Erie and our community partners provide a wide variety of resources that can provide help with food, rent and utilities, as well as applying for unemployment during this challenging time. 

Other COVID-19 Resources

You can call or visit the websites of the following organizations for even more information on COVID-19:

  • Chicago residents: Call the Chicago Department of Public Health hotline at 312.746.4835

  • Illinois residents who live outside of Chicago: Call the Illinois Department of Public Health hotline at 800.889.3931 or email dph.sick@illinois.gov

  • For general information, visit the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) website.

5 Tips for Taking Care of Yourself
  1. Take care of your body– Try to eat healthy well-balanced meals, exercise regularly, and get plenty of sleep. Avoid alcohol, tobacco, and other drugs. Learn more about wellness strategies for mental health.
  2. Connect with others– Share your concerns and how you are feeling with a friend or family member. Maintain healthy relationships, and build a strong support system.
  3. Take breaks– Make time to unwind and remind yourself that strong feelings will fade. Try taking in deep breaths. Try to do activities you usually enjoy.
  4. Avoid too much exposure to news– 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 enjoyable activities and return to normal life as much as possible and check for updates between breaks.
  5. Seek help when needed– If distress impacts activities of your daily life for several days or weeks, talk to a clergy member, counselor, or doctor, or contact the SAMHSA helpline at 1-800-985-5990

Our COVID-19 Dashboard

COVID Dashboard 3.15.22

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