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COVID-19 | Patients & Visitors – Merit Health Central

The Pfizer vaccines are administered 21 days apart and the Moderna vaccines are administered 28 days apart. The Johnson and Johnson vaccine requires only one 
  • Visitor Guidelines – Visit our Patients and Visitors page to learn about current visitor policies
  • Safety Measures – Learn what we are doing to keep our patients safe from COVID-19
  • Vaccine Information – Get the latest information about COVID-19 vaccines
  • Don’t Delay Emergency or Other Healthcare – Read why maintaining your health is important during the pandemic
  • Protect Yourself From COVID-19 – Information to keep you and your family safe

Keeping Our Patients Safe

Keeping you safe when you are in our hospital or other care locations is our highest priority, especially while we all work to eliminate COVID-19. Our team is taking extraordinary measures to provide COVID-safe care for the protection of our patients, our caregivers and the community.

What is COVID-safe care?

When you need medical care, we want you to know that we are taking numerous precautions to keep you safe and to prevent the spread of COVID.

Facemasks are still required and our caregivers continue to use other appropriate PPE (personal protective equipment) along with hand washing before and after each patient.

Our normal deep cleaning processes are already intense and designed to protect people in our hospital. We are cleaning with increased frequency and taking extra measures whenever necessary.

Strict safety standards are always a top priority so that you can come to us confidently – knowing we are here for you, a safe place, and ready to provide the care you need.

COVID-19 Vaccines

Vaccines are an effective way to protect your health and to stop the spread of certain infectious diseases, including COVID-19. So far, three vaccines have received emergency use authorization to protect against COVID-19 and more vaccines are in clinical trials. Vaccination has been offered to our frontline healthcare workers and employees. The best source of information about vaccine availability in our community is the local health department.

Frequently asked questions about COVID-19 vaccines

Why should I get the COVID-19 vaccine? COVID-19 vaccines have been tested and found to be safe and very effective at preventing you from getting the virus. No vaccine is 100% effective, but the COVID-19 vaccines available today are considered to be 66% to 95% effective. Experts also believe that after you are vaccinated, if you do get COVID-19 at a later time, you are less likely to become seriously ill. It is important to know that the COVID-19 vaccines do not contain the live virus so you cannot get COVID-19 from the vaccine.

Why will I need two doses of the COVID-19 vaccine and a booster? Two versions of the vaccine, one produced by Pfizer and the other by Moderna, require two doses to achieve the high level of effectiveness. The Pfizer vaccines are administered 21 days apart and the Moderna vaccines are administered 28 days apart. The Johnson and Johnson vaccine requires only one dose to achieve the high level of effectiveness.

To further protect against COVID-19 and its variants, a booster is recommended to people 12 or older:

  • five months after receiving an mRNA vaccine primary vaccination series (Pfizer or Moderna) or
  • two months after receiving the single J&J vaccine.

Adults 50 or older are eligible for a second booster four months after receiving the first booster from any of the three vaccines (Pfizer, Moderna and J&J).

Is the vaccine safe? The U.S. vaccine safety system ensures that all vaccines are as safe as possible, including COVID-19 vaccines. Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson, the companies that manufacture the vaccines currently available, have conducted rigorous clinical trials to review and document safety of the vaccine. Data from those trials was then reviewed by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) before the FDA granted emergency use authorization for the vaccines.

Are there possible side effects from the COVID-19 vaccine? Vaccines may cause soreness at the injection site and some people may develop headache, fatigue, fever or muscle aches after receiving the COVID-19 vaccine. Side effects appear to be more common after the second does. Although extremely uncommon, there have been some allergic reactions documented after the COVID-19 vaccine. To help ensure safety, recipients of the vaccine are monitored for a short time after they receive the shot. If you are concerned about a potential allergic reaction, discuss the vaccine with your healthcare provider before you get it.

Don’t Delay Healthcare, Especially in an Emergency

Delaying care during a medical emergency can put your life at risk. Our Emergency Department safety protocols are designed to ensure you can seek emergency treatment confidently. In the event any patients come to our ER with COVID-19 symptoms, they are separated from other patients immediately. Our caregivers and all patients wear facemasks and we are taking extraordinary measures to keep our Emergency Department safe and clean.

When every minute counts.

Never delay emergency care for sudden symptoms that may indicate a medical emergency, including:

  • Chest pain, shortness of breath and other heart attack warning signs
  • Stroke symptoms including facial drooping, arm weakness or difficulties with speech
  • Accidents resulting in injuries, burns, or possible broken bones
  • Sudden or severe headaches
  • Abdominal pain that comes on suddenly or is severe or persistent
  • Significant bleeding
  • Coughing up or vomiting blood

In a major medical emergency, call 911 and get help as fast as possible. This list of emergency symptoms does not include all emergency conditions.

Stay up-to-date on all of your routine healthcare needs.

Maintaining good health has never been more important. During the pandemic, it’s important to keep scheduling routine appointments, including visits to the doctor’s office when you are sick, annual check-ups, immunizations for children, and screenings such as colonoscopies, mammograms and other diagnostic procedures that can ensure timely treatment for serious conditions, if necessary.

Physicians affiliated with our hospital offer in-office and telehealth appointments to keep your health on track.

Protect Yourself and Others From COVID-19

The best way to protect yourself and others from COVID-19 is to limit close proximity to other people and to follow infection prevention recommendations.

  • Even if you have been vaccinated, wear a facemask to cover your nose and mouth when you are in public places or come into contact with people who do not live in your home, including extended family and friends.
  • Keep your distance and be sure you keep at least six feet between yourself and other people. Avoid crowded and poorly ventilated places as much as possible.
  • Frequently wash your hands for at least 20 seconds with soap and warm water or use hand sanitizer containing 60% or more alcohol.
  • Avoid touching your face, especially your eyes, nose and mouth.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a bent elbow or tissue and immediately dispose of the tissue.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.
  • Stay home when you are sick, except to get medical care.

If You Get Sick

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advises that mildly ill patients contact their healthcare provider by phone for guidance about COVID-19 testing and how to recover at home.

Patients who have severe symptoms, such as trouble breathing, persistent pain or pressure in the chest, new confusion or inability to arouse, bluish lips or face should seek emergency care immediately.

Older patients and individuals who have underlying medical conditions or are immunocompromised should contact their physician at the onset of any COVID-19 symptoms, even for mild illness.

Symptoms of COVID-19

People with COVID-19 have reported a wide range of symptoms. Symptoms typically appear 2 to 14 days after exposure to the virus. Common symptoms include:

  • Fever or chills
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
  • Fatigue
  • Muscle or body aches
  • Headache
  • New loss of taste or smell
  • Sore throat
  • Congestion or runny nose
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Diarrhea

Other symptoms have been reported. If you think you may have symptoms related to COVID-19, you should contact your physician for more information about testing for the virus and getting the care you need while sick.

More Information

More information and facts about COVID-19 is available at Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website.

  • COVID-19 Overview
  • Protecting yourself from COVID-19
  • What to do if you are sick

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