2019 Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19)

 COVID-19 Frequently Asked Questions

Last Updated: November 24, 2021
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Below are Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) related to COVID-19. Always follow guidance from your medical provider and local installation and public health officials.

General COVID-19 Questions

Vaccine Questions

Additional FAQs for Public Website and Social Media

Working in a COVID-19 Operational Environment

In the Home

Healthcare Workers


More FAQs from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)External Link


General COVID-19 Questions

Q. What are the symptoms of COVID-19?

A. (From CDC)External Link People with COVID-19 have reported a wide range of symptoms—ranging from none to mild to severe. Symptoms may appear 2-14 days after exposure to the virus and may 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, and/or diarrhea.

Q. How does COVID-19 spread?

A. COVID-19 spreads when an infected person breathes out droplets and very small particles that contain the virus. These droplets and particles can be breathed in by other people or land on their eyes, noses, or mouth. In some circumstances, they may contaminate surfaces they touch. People who are closer than 6 feet from the infected person are most likely to get infected.

COVID-19 is spread in three main ways:

  • Breathing in air when close to an infected person who is exhaling small droplets and particles that contain the virus.
  • Having these small droplets and particles that contain virus land on the eyes, nose, or mouth, especially through splashes and sprays like a cough or sneeze.
  • Touching eyes, nose, or mouth with hands that have the virus on them.

Q. What is the difference between Influenza (Flu) and COVID-19?

A. (From CDC) Influenza (flu) and COVID-19 are both contagious respiratory illnesses, but they are caused by different viruses. COVID-19 is caused by infection with a new coronavirus (called SARS-CoV-2), and flu is caused by infection with an influenza virus. Because many of the symptoms of flu and COVID-19 are similar, it may be hard to tell the difference between them based on symptoms alone, and testing is needed to confirm a diagnosis. The typical seasonal influenza can be prevented by an annual vaccination.


Q. How many infections and deaths have been associated with COVID-19 globally and within the Army community?

A. For an up-to-date assessment and visualization of the COVID-19 burden within the Army community, refer to the MEDCOM COVID-19 Common Operating Picture (COP) (CAC Enabled Site)External Link. For up-to-date information on global COVID-19 infections and deaths, please refer to the John Hopkins University (JHU) COVID-19 DashboardExternal Link.


Vaccine Questions

Q. How do we know if the vaccine is safe? How will you monitor and track vaccine side effects? 

A.  The Department of Defense (DoD) is confident in the stringent regulatory process and requirements of the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Manufacturers are required to submit raw data for the FDA to review. Safety, immune response, and efficacy data from clinical trials are submitted to the FDA before the vaccine is authorized for use and distribution. Per FDA requirements, DoD will monitor and track reports of vaccine side effects through various surveillance activities, both internal and external to the DoD.

Q. What are mRNA vaccines and how do they work?  

A. The Army recommends supervisors conduct screening according to The Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines are messenger ribonucleic acid (mRNA) vaccines. They do not cause COVID-19 disease in recipients. The vaccines give our cells instructions to make a protein unique to the virus. Our immune systems recognize the protein as foreign and build immune cells to fight the virus, should one later be infected with the virus.

Q. What is an adenovirus vector vaccine? 

A.  Viral vector vaccines, such as the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine, use a modified version of a different virus (in this case the adenovirus) to deliver important instructions to our cells. For COVID-19 viral vector vaccines, the vector (not the virus that causes COVID-19, but a different, harmless virus) will enter a cell in our body and then use the cell’s machinery to produce a harmless piece of the virus that causes COVID-19. This piece is known as a spike protein and it is only found on the surface of the virus that causes COVID-19. This triggers our immune system to begin producing antibodies and activating other immune cells to fight off what it thinks is an infection.

Q. Can I get the vaccine if I’m pregnant or breastfeeding? 

A. COVID-19 vaccination is recommended for people who are pregnant, breastfeeding, trying to get pregnant now, or might become pregnant in the future. Pregnant people may also receive a COVID-19 booster shot. Pregnant and recently pregnant people are more likely to get severely ill with COVID-19 compared with non-pregnant people. Getting a COVID-19 vaccine can help protect you from severe illness from COVID-19.

Evidence about the safety and effectiveness of COVID-19 vaccination during pregnancy has been growing. These data suggest that the benefits of receiving a COVID-19 vaccine outweigh any known or potential risks of vaccination during pregnancy. There is currently no evidence that any vaccines, including COVID-19 vaccines, cause fertility problems in women or men.

Additional information is available at the CDC​External Link.

Q. If I've had COVID-19 and recovered, should I still get the vaccine? 

A.  Yes. You should be vaccinated even if you already had COVID-19. Experts do not yet know how long someone is protected from getting sick again after recovering from COVID-19. COVID-19 is associated with severe health risks, which the vaccine protects you from.

If you were treated for COVID-19 with monoclonal antibodies or convalescent plasma, you should wait 90 days before getting a COVID-19 vaccine. Speak with your doctor if you are unsure about what treatments you received, or if you have additional questions about the COVID-19 vaccine.

Q. Are Service members required to receive vaccine once one is available? 

A.  On 25 August 2021, Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III issued a memorandum for Mandatory Coronavirus Disease 2019 Vaccination of Department of Defense Service Members. The memo directs the Secretaries of the Military Departments to immediately begin full vaccination of all members of the Armed Forces under DoD authority on active duty or in the Ready Reserve, including the National Guard, who are not fully vaccinated against COVID-19. The Secretaries of the Military Departments were also directed to impose ambitious timelines for implementation and to report regularly on vaccination completion using established systems for other mandatory vaccine reporting. View the memo for Mandatory Coronavirus Disease 2019 Vaccination of Department of Defense Service Members.​

Q. Are boosters required? What about third doses for those who are immunocompromised?

A. Analysis of the data shows that protection against COVID-19 infection decreases over time following the initial administration of vaccine and as the Delta variant has become the dominant strain across the U.S. This is expected to result in less protection against severe disease, hospitalization, and death over the months ahead, especially among those who are at higher risk or were vaccinated during the earlier phases of the vaccination campaign. For these reasons, the CDC has indicated that a booster dose may be needed to maximize vaccine-induced protection for all adults. It is expected that U.S. health regulators could approve a third COVID-19 dose for adults beginning at least six months after completing the primary vaccination series, instead of the previously announced eight-month time-frame. In late August, the CDC Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) will review data pertaining to booster doses for waning immunity in fully vaccinated individuals. Additional discussion, a vote on this topic, and accompanying clinical considerations are expected to be forthcoming from the CDC ACIP in early September.

 An extra dose is not yet advised for those who received the Johnson and Johnson COVID-19 vaccine, but a recommendation for a booster dose may soon be forthcoming.

 Certain immunocompromised individuals may benefit from a third dose of an mRNA COVID-19 vaccine to ensure a sufficient immune response is achieved. The CDC ACIP recently approved a recommendation for an additional dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine for persons 12 years of age and older or the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine for persons 18 years of age and older who are considered moderately or severely immunocompromised. 

 Speak with your health care provider if you have specific questions about your circumstances, the vaccination boosters, and when booster doses may be available for you.

CDC Frequently Asked QuestionsExternal Link

MHS Frequently Asked Questions (See page 8)External Link

COVID-19 Vax FactsExternal Link

Additional FAQs for Public Website and Social Media

Q. How common are breakthrough infections and who is most impacted?

A.  Some people who are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 will still get sick because no vaccine is 100% effective. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) defines breakthrough case as the detection of SARS-CoV-2 RNA or antigen in a respiratory specimen collected from a person ≥14 days after they have completed all recommended doses of a currently authorized vaccine. Many of those who experience breakthrough infection have mild or not symptoms at all.

Q. How is the Delta variant different than the initial strain of COVID-19?  

A.  The Delta variant spreads more easily and may cause more severe illness than other known strains of the SARS-CoV-2 virus. Available vaccines are effective at preventing serious illness and death from all strains of the SARS-CoV-2 virus, including the Delta variant; however, fully vaccinated individuals are more likely to experience breakthrough infections of the Delta variant than other versions of the virus.

Q. Can vaccinated people spread the virus?

A.  Data show that it is possible at lower rates for fully vaccinated individuals to spread the virus, particularly the Delta variant, to others. The COVID-19 vaccine does prevent transmission, severe illness, and death from known strains of the SARS-CoV-2 virus, but no vaccine is 100% effective. The elderly, those with immune or chronic health conditions, or those with underlying health disorders may not have a strong immune response to the vaccine and may remain more susceptible to breakthrough infections and spreading the virus following vaccination than others. We are still collecting data and doing ongoing research about the vaccine responses in these vulnerable populations.

Q. What can I do to protect my kids until they can get the vaccine?

A.  Ensure your entire family follows the 3 Ws: Wear a mask indoors, watch your distance, and wash your hands frequently. These are still the best prevention strategies, especially when vaccination is not an option.

Q. How do I know if I’m in a geographical area where I should be masking?

A.  The CDC maintains a webpage, “COVID Data Tracker” [www.covid.cdc.gov/covid-data-tracker] that allows you to view up-to-date information on community transmission in your state and county. Masking is recommended for areas with substantial to high case rates. Follow masking requirements in your community as local jurisdictions may have more stringent requirements.

Q. A mask is intended to prevent me from spreading my germs to others, does it also protect me from others?

A.  In addition to preventing you from spreading germs to others, masks also help protect you from COVID-19 by reducing inhalation of droplets from others. (https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/science/science-briefs/masking-science-sars-cov2.htmlExternal Link)

Q. When will kids younger than 12 be able to get the vaccine?

A.  There is currently no firm date for when the COVID-19 vaccines will be available to children younger than 12. The FDA is currently reviewing data, and we are hopeful that the vaccine will be made available to younger children by the end of the year. Currently, the Pfizer vaccine is authorized for children 12 and older.

Q. Why do I have to wear a mask indoors if I am vaccinated?

A.  The CDC recommends wearing a mask indoors in public if you are in an area of substantial or high transmission to maximize protection from the Delta variant and prevent possibly spreading it to others.

Q. In the event that COVID-19 vaccination is required for Service members and/or DOD personnel, will previous infection be accepted for medical exemption? What other “conditions” may be included in application for medical exemption?

A.  Information pertaining to medical exemptions from approved immunizations can be found in the Multi-Service Regulation (AR 40–562, BUMEDINST 6230.15B, AFI 48–110_IP, CG COMDTINST M6230.4G), “Immunizations and Chemoprophylaxis for the Prevention of Infectious DiseasesExternal Link,” dated 7 October 2013. Section 2-6 highlights guidance pertaining to medical and administrative exemptions, while Tables C-1 and C-2 detail medical and administrative exemption documentation codes.

Medical exemptions are determined and granted by an appropriate health care provider. Medical exemptions may include considerations for any medical contraindication relevant to a given immunization and may be informed by the underlying health of the individual to be immunized (e.g., individual’s current immune status, receipt of pharmacologic or radiation therapy, current pregnancy status, previous adverse response to an immunization or vaccine ingredients). A medical exemption may also be granted if there is evidence of immunity to a given vaccine-preventable disease (e.g., serologic tests, previously documented infection). In addition, medical exemptions may be granted while an individual is undergoing medical evaluation for a condition that is not readily definable or previously diagnosed. A multi-disciplinary approach by multiple medical providers and specialists may be employed to consider an exemption in such circumstances. The health care provider assessing a medical exemption request may seek consultations from other providers experienced in vaccine adverse event management, such as specialists in immunization healthcare.

Medical exemptions may granted on a temporary (i.e., less than one (1) year in duration) or permanent basis. Appropriate exemption codes to denote evidence of immunity and other temporary or permanent reasons for medical exemption are to be annotated in the individual’s Service-specific Immunization Tracking System and any adverse events following receipt of a vaccine are to be reported to the Department of Health and Human Services’ Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS). Also of note, medical exemption codes are to be revoked if they are no longer clinically warranted.

Specific to the COVID-19 vaccines, as data are currently not available regarding duration of immunity following natural infection and multiple studies have demonstrated that vaccine augments protection for those who have recovered from COVID-19, persons with a history of previous natural infection are recommended to receive the COVID vaccine. At this time, previous natural infection is not a basis for medical exemption from vaccination. Also of note, persons with underlying medical conditions can and should receive a COVID-19 vaccine. However, those persons who have experienced an immediate or severe allergic reaction to a COVID-19 vaccine or to any vaccine ingredients may be considered for an exemption from their healthcare provider. For persons previously treated for COVID-19 with monoclonal antibodies or convalescent plasma and for those with a history of multisystem inflammatory syndrome (MIS), a healthcare provider may consider granting a temporary exemption for 90 days from the time of treatment or following the date of MIS diagnosis. Temporary exemptions may also be considered for those recovering from acute COVID-19 illness. Both persons with and without symptoms should wait to be vaccinated until they have met the appropriate criteria to discontinue isolation.

Working in a COVID-19 Operational Environment ​

Q. What are effective ways to practice social distancing in the workplace?

A. Consider implementing engineering and administrative controls to protect employees, such as:

  • Staggering arrival and departure times to/from the workplace
  • Minimizing contact among workers, clients, and customers by replacing face-to-face meetings with electronic or virtual forms of communication.
  • Rearranging workplace seating to increase distance between individuals.

Refer to Sustaining Workplace Operations Guidance for additional information.

Q. When, how, and what kinds of personal protective equipment (PPE) should be used in the workplace?

A. PPE is employed to control certain exposures for people who work in specific roles and work environments. While not classified as PPE, cloth face coverings/masks are recommended to reduce risk of asymptomatic persons spreading droplets or aerosols which could contain the virus that causes COVID-19, from their exhaled breath into their immediate environment.​

Q. When should face coverings/masks be used?

A. In areas of substantial or high community transmission, DoD requires all Service members, Federal employees, onsite contractor employees, and visitors, regardless of vaccination status, to wear a mask in an indoor setting in installations and other facilities owned, leased or otherwise controlled by DoD.

Service members, Federal employees, onsite contractor employees, and visitors who are not fully vaccinated also need to continue to physically distance consistent with applicable CDC and DoD Force Health Protection guidance.

Personnel coming on to a DoD installation, other facility or workspace who do not have a mask may be provided one by DoD.​

Refer to Important Information about Your Face Covering for additional information.

Q. What hygiene practices should be employed to prevent the spread of COVID-19?

  • ​Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth with unwashed hands.
  • When soap and water are not available, use hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.
  • Cover your cough/sneeze with a tissue, then throw it in the trash; cough/sneeze into your elbow if tissues are unavailable

Refer to COVID-19: Prevent the Spread, Protect Yourself and Your Family for additional information.

Q. What actions should be taken when an employee working on-site is known or presumed to have COVID-19?

A. Individuals who have been diagnosed with COVID-19 or are suspected of being infected must isolate and not return to the workplace until either symptoms- or time-based conditions are met. Refer to COVID-19: Guidance for Discontinuing Isolation in a Non-Healthcare Setting for more details.​

If you are infected:​

  • Take care of yourself by remaining hydrated and getting rest.
  • Stay in touch with your healthcare provider and seek care if experiencing trouble breathing, persistent chest pain or pressure, new confusion, inability to wake or stay awake, or have bluish lips or face.
  • Avoid public transportation, gatherings, shopping centers, and other public venues.

Refer to COVID-19: Guidance for Clearing Individuals with a History of Confirmed or Presumed COVID-19 Infection to Return to the Workplace for additional information.

Q. When and how should employees report having close contact with a person who is confirmed or presumed to have COVID-19?

A. Individuals who are close contacts of a person who is confirmed or presumed to have COVID-19 should immediately report their change in status to their supervisor and adhere to the following:

Fully vaccinated individuals:

  • No quarantine is necessary
  • Get tested 5-7 days after exposure
  • Self monitor for appearance of symptoms for 14 days (isolate if symptoms develop).
  • Wear a mask indoors in public for 14 days following exposure or until a test result is negative

Unvaccinated individuals:

  • Quarantine at home or in quarters for at least 14 days from the time you last had close contact with the person in question. Refer to the flyer titled 10 Tips for At-Home Quarantine or Self-Monitoring for additional information.
  • During the quarantine period, the individual should take the following steps to monitor their health and practice social distancing:
    • Check body temperature with a thermometer two times per day (morning and evening). Use a temperature log to document body temperature over time.
    • Monitor symptoms for the development of a cough or trouble breathing; consult a health care provider if symptoms worsen.
    • Stay home and avoid contact with others.
    • Do not travel to work or school.
    • Do not take public transportation, taxis, or ride-shares.
    • Keep distance from others (about 6 feet) and wear a cloth face covering when around others.

Information on reduction of quarantine duration can be found in the Force Health Protection Guidance 15 Revision 2 Attachment hereExternal Link

​More information is available at ​ https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/if-you-are-sick/quarantine.htmlExternal Link


In the Home​

Q.  What actions should be taken to care for a household member that is ill from COVID-19?

A.  The household caregiver should advise the infected household member to stay home from work, school and away from public places, get rest, stay hydrated and exercise, as much as possible.  See additional information in the "10 Tips for At-Home Quarantine of Self-Monitoring."

Additional information is available via the CDC at: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/if-you-are-sick/care-for-someone.htmlExternal Link

Q.  What actions should be taken to prevent household members from being exposed from another household member who is known or presumed to have COVID-19?

A.  Get vaccinated! Vaccination is the primary means of preventing severe COVID-19 and reducing further spread. As much as possible, the infected household member stay in a specific room, away from other household members; avoid sharing personal items; and clean high-touch surfaces frequently. The person who is sick should wear a mask when they are around other people and windows should be kept open to increase air circulation.  See additional information in the "10 Tips for At-Home Quarantine of Self-Monitoring" and from the CDC at: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/if-you-are-sick/care-for-someone.htmlExternal Link

Q.  Should I be concerned about pets or other animals and COVID-19?

A.  At this time, there is no evidence that animals play a significant role in spreading the virus that causes COVID-19. Based on the information available to date, risk of animal transmission to people is low.  If you are confirmed or suspected of having COVID-19, you should try to limit close contact with pets and other animals, just like you would around other household members and other people. If you are the only caretaker for your pets and you become ill, wear a face covering and wash your hands before and after touching your pets. Please refer to the APHC site about pets and COVID-19 for the most up-to-date information.

Q.  Can my pet get COVID-19?         

A.  We are aware of a small number of animals in several countries, including the U.S, reported to be infected following close contact with people infected with the virus that causes COVID-19. If your animal appears to be ill, contact your veterinarian just like you would for any health concern. Call ahead to ensure the veterinary clinic is prepared for your pet, and report any exposure history. Please refer to the APHC site about pets and COVID-19 for the most up-to-date information.

Q.  What behavioral health and well-being resources are available?

A.  We encourage you to navigate to the APHC site dealing with Behavioral Health Topics and Resources at: https://phc.amedd.army.mil/topics/healthyliving/bh/Pages/default.aspx and also refer to the Sleep, Activity and Nutrition website (https://p3.amedd.army.mil) as these factors also impact behavioral health. Additionally, please refer to the following APHC website for information on general stress management during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Healthcare Workers

Q.  When, how, what kind of PPE should be used in a healthcare facility?

A.  Appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) is based on the task and environment. This guide, "COVID-19: Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) Guidance for Healthcare Providers," provides detailed criteria for determining mask and respirator as well as other PPE usage.

Q.  What healthcare building modifications should be made to prevent the spread of COVID-19?

A.  Army Medical Treatment Facilities should use separated, well-ventilated triage areas and utilize a combination of administrative and engineering controls to maximize infection control.

Refer to TIP No. 98-108-0420 for additional information and details.

Q.  When, how, what kind of routine cleaning should be done in a healthcare facility?

A.  All non-dedicated, non-disposable medical equipment used for patient care should be cleaned and disinfected according to manufacturer's instructions and facility policies. Utilize routine cleaning and disinfection procedures. See CDC guidanceExternal Link for additional information.

Q.  What actions can healthcare workers take to prevent exposing their family members and close contacts to COVID-19?

A.  Utilize the proper Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). See the flyer titled COVID-19: Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) Guidance for Healthcare Providers for additional information. Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth and wash your hands often for at least 20 seconds with soap and water. See the flyer titled "COVID-19: Protect Yourself and Your Family" for additional information.

Q.  What behavioral health and well-being resources are available to healthcare workers?

A.  For healthcare workers, please refer to the following CDC website titled "Healthcare Personnel and First Responders: How to Cope with Stress and Build Resilience During the COVID-19 Pandemic"External Link. Additionally, please refer to the following APHC website for information on general stress management during the COVID-19 pandemic.


Q.  What is the difference between quarantine, isolation, and restriction of movement?

A.  From the Guidance for Clearing Personnel to Return to the Workplace and DODI 6200.03 (Public Health Emergency Management (PHEM) within the DOD)External Link


Isolation is used to separate sick people from healthy people with the goal of minimizing further spread of disease. People who are in isolation should use dedicated facilities (e.g., room, latrines) if possible and interact with others as little as possible.


Quarantine is used to keep someone who might have been exposed to an infectious organism away from others. People in quarantine should stay separated from others, and limit movement. Please refer to 10 Tips for At-Home Quarantine or Self-Monitoring for additional information.

Restriction of Movement:

Restriction of Movement (ROM) is a general DOD term for limiting movement of an individual or group to prevent or diminish the transmission of a communicable disease, including limiting ingress and egress to, from, or on a military installation.


Q.  When is restriction of movement (ROM) required?

A. Fully vaccinated individuals are not required to ROM pre- or post-travel.  Those who are not fully vaccinated are required to ROM post-travel for 7 days if tested or 10 days if not tested.  For more detailed information on Travel restrictions during the COVID-19 pandemic please visit https://phc.amedd.army.mil/topics/campaigns/covid19/Pages/Travel.aspx

  • All personnel (including those fully vaccinated) will submit to viral testing 3-5 days after return.

  • ​If traveling from, or having traveled through, a foreign country, Service members will ROM for 14 days. If, after an appropriate risk assessment, ROM may be decreased to 10 days without testing, or 7 days with testing. All other DOD affiliates are encouraged to follow the same protocol.

Domestic Travel

Prior to family members engaging in official international travel, Service members must attest that, to the best of their knowledge, their family members have followed the same requirements. 

The ROM requirement also applies to civilian and contractor personnel on official international travel.

Please refer APHC's Travel during COVID-19 site  for additional information or details.​


Q.  What are some best practices for traveling safely?          

A.  Avoid travel if you or any of your travel companions are sick; have suspected or diagnosed COVID-19 (even if you don't have symptoms); or have been around someone with suspected or diagnosed COVID-19 in the past 14 days (even if they did not have symptoms).

During your trip, take steps to protect yourself and others from COVID-19:

  • Wear a mask or cloth face covering over your nose and mouth when in public settings.
  • Avoid close contact by staying at least 6 feet from anyone who is not from your household.
  • Wash your hands often or use hand sanitizer (with at least 60% alcohol).
  • Avoid contact with anyone who is sick.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
  • Many states have travel-restriction or entrance requirements, including ROM. Personnel on official travel should adhere to them to the greatest degree practical. Personnel on personal travel must abide by them. Please refer to APHC’s Travel during COVID-19 site for additional information or details.​

Further information about travel safety during the COVID-19 pandemic can be found on the CDC website, https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/travelers/index.htmlExternal Link and https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/travelers/travel-during-covid19.htmlExternal Link

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