COVID-19 Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Updated July 8, 2022

What do I need to know about COVID-19 variants?

CDC and health officials are constantly monitoring the spread of all COVID-19 variants, including Omicron and newer variants that have been identified. Current variants of concern include Omicron subvariants such as BA.1, BA.2 and BA.4 and BA.5, which are thought to spread more easily than previous variants. The good news is that we have not seen an increase in hospitalizations and deaths as the Omicron variants seem to be less severe in general. However, even if a variant causes less severe disease in general, an increase in the overall number of cases could cause an increase in hospitalizations and a strain on healthcare resources.

Viruses are constantly changing, including the virus that causes COVID-19. These changes can lead to the emergence of variants (new strains of the virus) that can increase the risk of future surges and infections.

Will the COVID-19 vaccine protect against me from the newer variants that are currently circulating?

While breakthrough infections in people who are fully vaccinated can still occur, studies show that current COVID-19 vaccines are expected to be highly effective at preventing severe illness, hospitalizations, and death due to infections with the newer variants. We strongly encourage you to get your COVID-19 vaccinations and boosters.

Can I get reinfected with COVID-19 if I was already infected in the past?

It is possible to get reinfected with the same COVID-19 virus variant or a different variant, although unlikely within 90 days of a previous infection. Symptoms during reinfection are likely to less severe that during the initial infection, but some people experience more severe COVID-19 symptoms during reinfection. Both previous infection and vaccination have been shown to provide some protection against infection, although risk of reinfection varies by circulating variant. Vaccination remains the safest strategy for preventing future COVId-19 infections, hospitalizations, long-term sequelae and death.

When will COVID-19 vaccines be available that are effective against the newer variants?

The FDA has recommended that COVID-19 vaccine manufacturers, Pfizer and Moderna, proceed with the development of omicron-specific boosters shots for fall 2022, including coverage of the more infectious BA.4 and BA.5 subvariants. FDA noted that, hopefully, the shots will be approved and available by early to mid-fall 2022. The data suggests that these new COVID-19 vaccines will provide stronger immunity against the newer Omicron subvariants. As with all vaccines, the goal isn’t necessarily to completely eliminate all transmission—no vaccine is 100% effective at preventing illness—but updated boosters could further bolster protection against hospitalization or death.

As we move into the fall and winter, it is critical that we have safe and effective vaccine boosters that can provide protection against circulating and emerging variants to prevent the most severe consequences of COVID-19.

How long should I quarantine if I am diagnosed with COVID-19 infection?

For the general population (excludes healthcare workers): If you test positive for COVID-19, you should isolate for 5 days (day 0 is the first day of symptoms or positive test). You can end isolation after 5 full days if you are fever free for 24 hours without fever reducing medication and have improving symptoms. You should take precautions for a full 10 days by wearing a mask around others and social distance from others.

Do I need to quarantine if I am exposed to a person diagnosed with COVID-19?
  • If you had a close contact exposure to someone with COVID-19, you DO NOT need to quarantine if:

    • You are fully vaccinated or

    • You had a confirmed case of COVID-19 within the prior 90 days

  • If you had a close contact exposure to someone with COVID-19, you SHOULD quarantine for at least 5 days (day of last contact is day 0) if you are not fully vaccinated. You should get a COVID-19 test 5 days after your exposure or sooner if you develop symptoms.

Additional Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Is Tampa General Hospital prepared?

Yes. We regularly treat patients with infectious diseases and complex illnesses and have rigorous infection-prevention protocols. Our infectious disease specialists are highly trained, in continual contact with local, state and federal public health officials and closely monitoring developments.

Should I keep my medical appointment?

Yes. Please keep existing appointments unless directed otherwise.

How dangerous is COVID-19?

The CDC says the immediate health risk to the general public in the U.S. is low. For most people, the novel coronavirus produces a mild illness, and many of those infected don't even know they have it. As with influenza, in some cases it can lead to serious illness such as pneumonia and death. It appears that the elderly and those with underlying medical conditions are most susceptible.

How does the disease spread?

COVID-19 spreads mainly between people who are in close contact with one another (approximately six feet). The virus can be transmitted in droplets that become airborne through a cough or sneeze. You can also be exposed after touching a surface that has the virus on it, and then touching your face, eyes or mouth.

How can I keep myself healthy?

While the CDC has determined that the current risk of infection of COVID-19 in the United States remains low, there are steps you can take to stay healthy, such as:

  • Wash your hands frequently and for at least 20 seconds with soap and water or alcohol-based hand sanitizer.

  • Cough into your elbow or a tissue and not your hands. Dispose of the tissue.

  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces at home, work and school.

  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth.

  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.

  • If you are sick, stay home and do not travel or report to work.

  • Practice healthy habits: Get plenty of sleep, be physically active, manage your stress, drink plenty of fluids and eat nutritious food.

What are the symptoms?

According to current information from the CDC, symptoms may appear 2 to 14 days after exposure to the virus. Symptoms include fever, cough and shortness of breath. This information is based on what has been seen in similar previous viruses, and it may change as more is known about COVID-19.

What do I do if I'm sick?

If you have recently traveled to an area identified as high risk by the CDC or have been in contact with someone who has been confirmed to have COVID-19 (Coronavirus) and you have a fever and/or respiratory symptoms, please contact your county health department for direction about testing and treatment. Please do not go directly to the emergency room without contacting your healthcare provider first. TGH Virtual Health is one option for speaking to a physician without leaving your home. Learn more about the TGH Virtual Health service here. The Florida Department of Public Health hotline is another resource and can be reached at 1 (866) 779-6121, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

How are you diagnosed and treated?

Contact your primary care physician if you experience cold or flu like symptoms. TGH Virtual Health is also a great option for care. It enables patients to seek medical attention from their home while limiting the spread of germs. You can learn more about the TGH Virtual Health service here.

If you have a fever and/or respiratory symptoms AND have traveled internationally or across states, OR have been in contact with someone diagnosed with COVID-19, please contact your county health department for direction about testing and treatment. The health department will advise you on how to access care if needed and will contact your local hospital.

Are you accepting donations to the hospital?

All donation requests should be directed to the TGH Foundation at


Tampa General Hospital Updates

Hospital Bed Availability for COVID-19 Patients

Updated: July 18, 2024 at 7:45 AM

[11] COVID-19 Admissions
[4] ICU Beds in Use for COVID-19 Patients

Vaccine Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Why should I get the COVID-19 vaccine?

COVID-19 illness can have serious and life-threatening complications and there is no way of knowing how COVID-19 will affect you. The current COVID-19 vaccines have been shown to be highly effective (95%) at preventing COVID-19 and lowering the risk of serious illness or death.

COVID-19 vaccinations are an important tool to help stop the pandemic by lowering the number of COVID-19 cases in the U.S. and preventing further transmission (herd immunity). In addition, the more people vaccinated against COVID-19, the better chance we have of not developing new variants of the COVID-19 virus that the vaccines may not be as effective against.

What is herd immunity and why is it so important?
  • Herd immunity occurs when enough people become immune to a disease to make its spread unlikely.
  • Herd immunity is achieved by protecting people against a virus not exposing them to a virus.
  • It is estimated we need at least 70% of the U.S population with immunity to reach herd immunity from COVID-19 (231 million people)
  • To reach herd immunity through natural infection with COVID-19 would cause healthcare systems to be overwhelmed and cause unnecessary deaths and lifelong disabilities.
How was the COVID-19 vaccine (Pfizer and Moderna) developed so quickly?

In the past, some vaccines have taken years to develop. However, there are several reasons we were able to develop safe and effective vaccines against the virus causing the COVID-19 pandemic:

  • The mRNA technology used to develop COVID-19 vaccines has been in development for many years to prepare for outbreaks of infectious viruses. Therefore, the manufacturing process was ready very early in the process.
  • Governments around the world gave enough money to vaccine developers, so they had the resources needed to develop and conduct trials on the vaccine quickly.
  • Because the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus is so contagious and widespread, many of the volunteers in the clinical trials were exposed to the virus so the trials took a shorter time to see if the vaccine worked.
  • Social media enabled companies to reach out to enroll volunteers and there were many people willing to enroll in the clinical trials.
How do the Pfizer and Moderna MRNA vaccines work? 

Researchers have been studying mRNA vaccines for decades, this is not new science.

  • The COVID-19 vaccines DO NOT change your DNA because the mRNA does not enter the cell nucleus where DNA is found.
  • mRNA vaccines do not contain live viruses and, therefore, cannot infect someone with COVID-19.
  • mRNA vaccines do not contain eggs, latex or preservatives.
  • mRNA vaccines do not have the ability to cause cancer.

The vaccines contain synthetic mRNA, which is genetic information used to make the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein. The spike protein is the part of the virus that attaches to human cells. The spike protein alone cannot cause COVID-19. Once you are vaccinated, the mRNA will instruct your cells to produce the spike protein and your immune system will recognize the spike protein as different and make antibodies to protect you from acquiring and/or getting very sick if you come in contact with COVID-19.

Will the current COVID-19 vaccines work against the new variants of COVID-19?

Viruses constantly change through mutation and new variants are expected to occur over time.

The most dominant variants of the virus that causes COVID-19 are now circulating globally. These variants are found to spread more easily and quickly than the original virus.

  • United Kingdom:
    • UK variant B.1.1.7: Detected in U.S. December 2020
    • Spreads more easily and may be more deadly than other variants.
  • South Africa:
    • Variant B.1.351: Detected in October 2020 and in U.S. Jan 2021
  • Brazil:
    • Variant P.1: Detected in U.S. in January 2021

So far, studies suggest that antibodies generated through current vaccines are effective against these variants, but this is still being investigated and studied. What we do know: The more people who are vaccinated, the less opportunity for the COVID-19 virus to mutate and develop more variants that may be resistant to our current vaccines.

Should I get the vaccine if I have already been diagnosed with COVID-19 illness in the past?

It is currently unknown how long natural immunity lasts after recovering from COVID-19. Early studies show that it is not long lasting, and cases of reinfection have been reported.

Due to the severe health risks associated with COVID-19, it is recommended that a person who has had COVID-19 be vaccinated. If you have received monoclonal antibody treatment for your COVID-19 infection, you must wait 90 days to receive the vaccine. Otherwise, you may receive the COVID-19 vaccine if it has been at least 14 days since symptom onset and most symptoms have resolved.

Will the COVID-19 vaccine affect fertility? Should I delay conception?

There is no evidence that the COVID-19 vaccine causes infertility or interferes with placenta formation. 18 women became pregnant during the clinical trials and not problems with their pregnancy were reported. Current recommendations say there is no reason to delay conception after being vaccinated.

Persons under fertility treatments may get vaccinated. If you become pregnant after the first dose of COVID-19, you should not delay the second dose. Speak to your healthcare specialist about your concerns so you may make an informed decision.

Does the COVID-19 vaccine protect against me against the Omicron Variant?

While breakthrough infections in people who are fully vaccinated can still occur, studies show that current COVID-19 vaccines are expected to be highly effective at preventing severe illness, hospitalizations, and deaths due to infection with the Omicron Variant. We strongly encourage you get your COVID-19 vaccination and boosters.