Answers to your most frequently asked questions about coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) 



The CDC is your best resource for COVID-19

The COVID-19 situation continues to quickly evolve. Please visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for the latest information on COVID-19.

To help take care of yourself and your loved ones, below are answers to common questions about COVID-19.

If you are feeling worried or stressed about COVID-19, we’re here to help. Call the Optum Emotional Support Help Line toll-free at 1-866-342-6892. Mental health professionals are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Prefer a mobile app? Sanvello offers on-demand help for stress, anxiety and depression. 



COVID-19 vaccine FAQs

Accordion Block v2
  • It will lower your chances of getting COVID-19. 
    The vaccine helps your body protect itself from COVID-19. It’s designed is to keep you from: 

    • Getting seriously sick 
    • Spreading COVID-19 to others  

    It will help you protect yourself, your family and your community. 
    You can spread COVID-19 without feeling sick. 

    It will help stop COVID-19. 
    The more people who get the vaccine, the less chance COVID-19 has to spread and cause severe illness. We need to use all the tools we have to stop it. 

    Remember, once you get the vaccine, you still need to:

    • Wear a mask that covers your nose and mouth.
    • Stay at least 6 feet away from others you don’t live with.
    • Wash your hands often with soap and water. If you don’t have soap and water nearby, use hand sanitizer.
  • Use our vaccine resource locator tool to find resources near you by ZIP code. Learn who can get a vaccine, where to get it, how to sign up for alerts and how to schedule an appointment. 

    You can also visit the CDC website and find local COVID-19 vaccine information. 

  • Yes. According to the CDC, you need to wear a mask that covers your nose and mouth when: 

    • You’re with others outside your household
    • You’re in a health care facility (like a hospital, clinic, nursing home, etc.)
    • You get any vaccine, including a COVID-19 vaccine 

    Anyone who has trouble breathing or can’t remove a mask without help should not wear a mask. To learn more, see the CDC's considerations for wearing masks.

  • The supply of vaccine is limited. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is working with state and local public health departments to deliver the vaccine safely and quickly. You can learn more about that here

    Certain groups are getting the vaccine first: 

    • Health care workers
    • People living in long-term care facilities (for example, nursing homes)
    • Essential workers (check with your state about who is an essential worker)
    • People age 65 and older 

    More COVID-19 vaccines are on the way. The FDA is working with vaccine developers to safely and quickly prepare them for use across the U.S.

    Find out where you can get the COVID-19 vaccine

    You can also visit the CDC website and find local COVID-19 vaccine information. 

  • Not yet. We know that a vaccine will protect you from getting sick with the virus. But you may still be able to spread it to others. A large portion of the population needs to be vaccinated to help stop the virus from spreading. 

    Until then, everyone needs to:

    • Wear a mask that covers your nose and mouth.
    • Stay at least 6 feet away from others you don’t live with.

    Wash your hands often with soap and water. If you don’t have soap and water nearby, use hand sanitizer.

  • According to the CDC, COVID-19 vaccines will not give you COVID-19. The vaccines that the FDA has approved:

    • Don’t contain the COVID-19 virus 
    • Can’t make you sick with COVID-19 

    There are other COVID-19 vaccines being developed in the United States. None of those use the live virus that causes COVID-19. 

    The goal for each vaccine is to teach the body to find and fight the COVID-19 virus. Read more about these facts and others on the CDC website. 

  • You may be told to get a COVID-19 vaccine, even if you’ve been sick with COVID-19 before. At this time, experts don’t know how long you’re protected from getting sick again after you’ve had COVID-19.

    You can learn more on the CDC website. 

  • The COVID-19 vaccine has been tested in clinical trials. It was only approved because it can greatly lower the chances of getting COVID-19.

    Experts believe that even if you catch COVID-19, this vaccine may help keep you from getting very ill. Your body will be ready to fight the virus.

  • The term, mRNA, stands for “messenger ribonucleic acid.” It’s basically directions for making a protein or a piece of a protein.

    The mRNA from a COVID-19 vaccine never enters the part of the cell where our genes are kept. So, the mRNA can’t change your genes.

    Instead, COVID-19 vaccines that use mRNA work with the body’s natural defenses. It helps the body to safely protect you from COVID-19.

  • A viral vector vaccine uses a harmless version of a different virus to deliver information to your body that helps it protect you. The harmless virus is called a “vector.”

    The vaccine developed by Johnson & Johnson is a viral vector vaccine. It uses the virus that causes the common cold. 

    The virus is changed so that it can’t make you sick. Instead, it’s given a new job: deliver a piece of DNA that tells the body to make the COVID-19 spike protein. 

    When your body makes the spike protein, your immune system reacts to it. It begins making special cells to protect you from COVID-19 infection. 

    Viral vectors can’t make you sick with COVID-19. They also do nothing to your DNA. Learn more about viral vector COVID-19 vaccines on the CDC website. 

  • All COVID-19 vaccines that the FDA has approved are safe and work well at keeping people from getting COVID-19. You can read more about it on the CDC website. 

    The FDA follows a very strict system to make sure vaccines are safe. The FDA followed this strict system with all of the COVID-19 vaccines that it approved. 

    The FDA keeps collecting information about vaccines after they are approved. It watches for new information about side effects. You can find out more about COVID-19 vaccine safety on the CDC website. 

    COVID-19 vaccines are key to slowing the pandemic. Take care of yourself and others: get the vaccine as soon as it’s offered to you.

  • COVID-19 vaccine side effects are like other vaccines'. Your arm that gets the shot may feel:

    • Pain
    • Redness
    • Swelling

    In the rest of your body, you might have:

    • Fatigue (tiredness)
    • Headache
    • Muscle pain
    • Chills
    • Fever 

    Side effects can last 24–48 hours after you get the vaccine. If you get a two-dose vaccine, you could have stronger side effects after the second dose. 

    Side effects are a sign that your body is making antibodies. An antibody is a cell that fights infection. Side effects do not mean you have COVID-19. 

    What should you do if you have side effects that bother you or don’t go away? Tell your doctor. Or call the place where you got the vaccine. 

    You should also tell the CDC if you have side effects. The CDC tracks the safety of vaccines, along with the FDA. There are two ways to tell the CDC about side effects:

    If you have an emergency, call 911 or go to the nearest hospital.



General FAQs

Accordion Block v2
  • Coronaviruses are a family of viruses that can cause illness in both people and animals. The 2003 SARS outbreak, also known as severe acute respiratory syndrome, is a well-known coronavirus. In January of 2020, the World Health Organization (WHO) announced a new coronavirus outbreak, called COVID-19, which was first detected in China. For more information on COVID-19, please visit the CDC’s Situation Summary page.

  • COVID-19 is thought to spread mainly through close contact from person to person. Some people without symptoms may be able to spread the virus. We are still learning about how the virus spreads and the severity of illness it causes. For the most updated information about COVID-19, visit the CDC’s website.

  • It is important to know that anyone can have mild to severe symptoms. For more information on symptoms for COVID-19, please visit the CDC’s Symptoms of Coronavirus page.

  • If you believe you may have been exposed to the virus, stay away from others.

    If you begin to experience symptoms, call your primary care provider (or local public health agency) right away to ask for guidance prior to making an in-person visit. This will help limit exposure to the general public. For more information on what to do if you think you are sick with COVID-19, please visit the CDC’s What to Do If You Are Sick page.

  • Use this online tool to find out if you may have COVID-19. If your symptoms are serious, you'll be told the next steps to take. If you do seek care, your primary care provider or health care professional will determine whether you should be tested and order the test in conjunction with local and state health departments. 

  • If your primary care provider or health care professional determines you should be tested for COVID-19 and orders the test, the most common place for collection of the specimen is a health care provider’s office or clinic. There are two kinds of tests available for COVID-19: diagnostic testing and antibody testing.

    • A diagnostic test determines if you are currently infected with COVID-19.
    • An antibody test detects antibodies in the blood, which may indicate a past COVID-19 infection. 

    For more information on getting tested for COVID-19, please visit the CDC’s Testing for COVID-19 page.

  • Diagnostic testing determines if you are currently infected with COVID-19. It does not indicate if you previously had COVID-19.

    Antibody testing detects antibodies in the blood, which may indicate a past COVID-19 infection. Per CDC guidelines, antibody tests should not be used to diagnose a current infection. Antibodies can take about two weeks to develop. Importantly, the presence of antibodies does not signal immunity. It is not currently known what level of antibodies, if at all, provides immunity to COVID-19 and how long the antibodies last. 

  • Diagnostic testing uses a nasal swab, collected by your physician or yourself. Your physician may also use other methods such as a throat swab. These tests deliver a high accuracy rate if the sample is taken and handled correctly.

    Antibody testing requires a blood sample. As new antibody tests continue to become available, it’s important to know that not all versions are FDA-authorized nor are they providing reliable results. COVID-19 testing is rapidly evolving, so please discuss any questions or concerns with your health care provider. 

  • Many health insurance companies across the country have stated that they will cover the full cost of any testing for COVID-19. However, it is a good idea to check with your specific insurance company to ask about coverage of the test. 

  • At present, there is no specific treatment or vaccine for COVID-19. If you become infected, you will receive supportive care to help relieve symptoms. You can help prevent the spread of the virus by following the steps listed on the CDC’s What to Do if You Are Sick page. 

  • You are advised to follow good prevention practices, including:

    • Wash your hands often with soap and water for 20 seconds or use alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol if soap and water are not available.
    • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.
    • Avoid close contact by putting distance between yourself and other people outside of your home; stay at least six feet from other people. Avoid close contact with people who are sick, even inside of your home. 
    • Cover your mouth and nose with a cloth face cover when around others.
    • Cover coughs and sneezes with a tissue, and then throw the tissue in the trash.
    • Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces, like your phone or computer.
    • Monitor your health and be alert for symptoms.

    For more information on how to protect yourself against COVID-19, please visit the CDC’s How to Protect Yourself & Others page.

  • This situation is evolving, so please visit the CDC’s Travel page for the latest guidance. In addition, check with your state and local authorities and those of your destination, as many have implemented rules or guidance that may affect your plans.

  • Yes. Medicare has more information hereIf you have a Medicare Advantage plan, you may want to call your plan and ask how it will handle COVID-19 care.

  • In most cases there is no need. All major health plans have waived member cost sharing, including copays, coinsurance and deductibles for COVID-19 diagnostic testing provided at approved locations in accordance with CDC guidelines for all commercial insured, Medicaid and Medicare members. In addition, many self-insured customers are also choosing to implement similar actions.

    This means that HSA funds are not required for COVID-19 diagnostic testing provided at approved locations in accordance with CDC guidelines. In the event that a plan is not waiving these costs, individuals will be able to use HSA funds for those costs without jeopardizing the qualified status of their high-deductible health plan.

  • As part of the COVID-19 readiness response, Optum Bank customers will continue to have full access to their funds, transactions and accounts. As an online bank with no physical branches, Optum Bank supports 24/7 access to accounts at optumbank.com and through the Optum Bank mobile app. There will be no interruption to online banking services, enabling account holders to view their balance and transactions, submit receipts and pay bills or reimburse themselves, or any additional functionality.

  • Per the CDC’s guidelines, social distancing is the practice of putting physical distance between yourself and other people to help COVID-19 from spreading in the community. It is especially important to practice social distancing to help protect people who are at a higher risk of getting sick. The CDC recommends the following to practice social or physical distancing:

    • Stay at least six feet (about two arms’ length) from other people.
    • Do not gather in groups.
    • Stay out of crowded places and avoid mass gatherings.
  • In an effort to reduce the spread of COVID-19, the CDC recommends that people wear a cloth face covering when out in public, especially when it is difficult to maintain social distancing measures. The face covering may help prevent people who have COVID-19 from spreading it to others.

    For more information about wearing a cloth face covering, please visits the CDC’s About Cloth Face Coverings page. 

Video Component

Detailed Video Description Coronavirus 20009


[What are Coronaviruses?]

[Narrator:] Coronaviruses are a family of common viruses that can cause illness in both animals and people.

[Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS), Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS)]

Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome and Middle East Respiratory Syndrome are two well-known coronaviruses.

In January of 2020, the World Health Organization announced a new coronavirus, now called COVID-19, which caused an outbreak of respiratory illness in the city of Wuhan in China’s Hubei Province.

We’re still learning about how this virus spreads, and rely on the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the World Health Organization for guidance.

Here’s what we know about COVID-19.

[How does COVID-19 spread?]

Currently, it is thought that it spreads mainly through respiratory droplets that are coughed or sneezed into the air by an infected person.

It may also spread when an individual touches an infected surface and then touches his or her mouth, nose or eyes.

[What are COVID-19 Symptoms?]

COVID-19 symptoms may be similar to a respiratory infection.

Primary symptoms may include: fever, cough and shortness of breath.


Some people, the elderly, the young or the immune-compromised, may experience complications including pneumonia, kidney failure and overwhelming infection, known as sepsis.

[How to help protect against COVID-19]

To best protect yourself from this coronavirus:

Wash your hands frequently with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.

Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.

Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth.

Avoid close contact with people who are sick.

Clean and disinfect frequently-touched surfaces, including your phone and computer.


Cover your nose and mouth with tissue when you cough or sneeze, then throw the tissue in the trash immediately.

For updated information, guidance and travel alerts, visit the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention or the World Health Organization.

We will continue to actively monitor public health resources to ensure we respond appropriately to the needs of our customers and members.

[Disclaimer: Source: US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). https://www.cdc.gov/ World Health Organization (WHO). https://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019 ]


Watch the video to learn about COVID-19.


The information and therapeutic approaches in this article are provided for informational and/or educational purposes only. They are not meant to be used in place of professional clinical consultations for individual health needs.

Color Block


Optum encourages people to stay informed as the situation evolves

For the most up-to-date information on COVID-19, visit the CDC website.

Visit CDC now