Navigating COVID-19

Frequently Asked Questions

Updated May 14, 2021

Is the Delta variant more contagious?

Yes, B.1.617.2, the Delta variant, is 2x more infectious than the original strain of COVID-19 discovered in China in December of 2019. Delta was identified in India a year later, in December 2020, and by the end of July 2021, it accounted for 80% of new COVID-19 infections in the United States. 

Am I at risk? 

It depends. Unvaccinated people are at the highest risk of developing severe disease or death from the Delta COVID-19 variant.

Another thing to keep in mind is that unvaccinated children and younger adults are at an increased risk against any variant, not just Delta, but this strain is impacting younger age groups more than the original COVID-19. 

Vaccines have not been approved for children 12 or younger, but a few countries are weighing options for authorization. It is anticipated that the United States will approve vaccines for children under 12 in late 2021 or early 2022.

Currently, Pfizer is the only vaccine allowed for adolescents and teenagers age 12 – 17. Minors will need to be accompanied by a parent or legal guardian when receiving their vaccine.
If you would like to schedule a vaccination appointment for your child, please visit the links below. 

If you live on the Eastern Shore, please call (757) 442-6600 to schedule your vaccine appointment.

If you don't see an appointment that is convenient for you, check back. We add new appointments as we get new shipments of vaccines.

How will this strain impact case numbers in my area?

Delta is highly contagious, which means it can spread across regions very quickly. 

Which means even if you live somewhere with relatively low case numbers and low vaccination rates, Delta can spread from just one contagious person and infect the whole community. These pockets of low vaccination rates can cause hyperlocal outbreaks, which overwhelm the healthcare system and make it harder for people to obtain the care they need. 

What else do I need to know about Delta?

As this variant is rather new, there is still more to be learned about how the Delta variant impacts symptoms, hospitalization rates and breakthrough cases. 

With the rise of variants, concerns have been voiced that the vaccines currently in use are less effective against Delta.  Based on real world experience, we are seeing an increase in breakthrough cases in those that are vaccinated.  The vaccines currently available in United States continue to remain highly effective against serious illness, hospitalization and death from the Delta variant. There are current discussions on whether the COVID-19 vaccines will need a booster or a modified formulations in the future. 

How do I protect myself against this strain?

Like the other variants, full vaccination is the best protection against Delta.  

Full vaccination is defined as obtaining both doses of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines or a single dose of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine and waiting the recommended two-week period for the shots to take effect. Individuals not fully vaccinated and two weeks past the last dose should continue to mask.  

Due to the risk for breakthrough infections, the CDC recommends masking for vaccinated individuals in communities with substantial or high transmissibility when indoors or outdoors and unable to socially distance. To find the rate of transmissibility in your area, view the CDC map

If you would like to schedule a vaccination appointment, please visit the links below. 

If you live on the Eastern Shore, please call (757) 442-6600 to schedule your vaccine appointment.

If you don't see an appointment that is convenient for you, check back. We add new appointments as we get new shipments of vaccines.


Who is Riverside vaccinating now?

Virginians age 12 and older are eligible to get COVID-19 vaccines. You can schedule yours today with Riverside Health System, even if you've not been a patient with Riverside before.

The Pfizer vaccine is currently the only COVID-19 vaccine approved for those ages 12-17 years old. Minors will need to be accompanied by a parent or legal guardian when receiving their vaccine.

Use one of the links below to find an appointment that works for you. Or call 757-534-5050.

If you live on the Eastern Shore, please call (757) 442-6600 to schedule your vaccine appointment

If you don't see an appointment that is convenient for you, check back. We add new appointments as we get new shipments of vaccine.

We'll bill your insurance for a small fee to help cover the costs of giving you the shot. But you won't get a bill, even if you don't have insurance.

Do patients 12-17 years old need a parent and/or guardian’s permission to be vaccinated?
Yes, those under the age of 18 have to have a parent or legal guardian with them when they receive the vaccine to give verbal approval. 

How do I prepare for my vaccination?

  • Arrive as close to your appointment time as possible (5-10 minutes) to avoid long wait times. If you have mobility concerns, please come prepared with walkers, etc. to support needs.
  •  Wear a short sleeve top with loose-fitting sleeves to allow for easy access for injection.
  • Let healthcare professionals know if you’ve received another vaccine (i.e. Shingles, Flu, etc.) in the past 14 days.
  • Avoid taking acetaminophen (Tylenol) or NSAID (ibuprofen//naproxen) immediately before your vaccination. However, you may take these medications after receiving your vaccine to assist with managing any side effects such as headache, injection site pain or muscle/joint pain.

Is Riverside just vaccinating their own patients?
No, this is a common misunderstanding. Riverside is using our vaccine doses in two ways: we’re providing doses and team members to support community vaccine clinics across the Hampton Roads area including more than 20 community clinics and vaccinated 10,000 community members through this effort in addition to Riverside patients we’ve vaccinated. 

What will it cost to get the vaccine?
Initially, the vaccine will be provided free of charge, but there may be a fee for the administration of the vaccine that most insurance providers will cover. As we know more, we will be sharing this information with our patients and the community. As with all types of care, please do not let cost concerns prevent you from getting vaccinated. If you are unsure as to whether you can afford an administration fee, please reach out to us. Our financial team will work with you to evaluate your individual situation to help make sure you can receive the vaccine and the care you need.

Can I choose which vaccine I get?
No. While there is currently more than one vaccine brand available, each has been vetted by the CDC and FDA for quality and safe use. Additionally, each vaccine has an efficacy rate higher than 70%, which is higher than the annual flu vaccine, and has been proven to be effective against COVID-19 variants. 

Those 12 and older are currently only eligible for the Pfizer vaccine. However, those 18 and older are eligible for any of the three vaccines. Which vaccine you receive is dependent on hospital supplies at the time.


How effective will the vaccine be?
To be approved, the FDA requires at least 50% effectiveness, but the latest data has shown two COVID-19 vaccines to be above 90% in efficacy. This is almost double the flu vaccine annually. Some of the initial vaccines will require a second dose, either 21 or 28 days after the first dose to reach that 90%+ effectiveness. Your provider will share that information with you before administering the vaccine.

Will the vaccine protect against COVID-19 variants?
At this point, the vaccines approved for use in the United States are demonstrating protection against the new variants, although the overall protection against the variants is slightly less. Vaccine manufacturers, the FDA and the CDC continue to evaluate vaccine effectiveness against the variants. It is anticipated that a “booster” dose will be needed in the future to cover the new variants.

Will I still need to wear a mask after I receive the vaccine?
Yes. While experts learn more about the protection that COVID-19 vaccines provide under real-life conditions, it will be important for everyone to continue using all the tools available to help stop this pandemic, like covering your mouth and nose with a mask, washing hands often, and staying at least 6 feet away from others.

How do you know the vaccine is safe?
All vaccines carry minor side effects, but clinical trials along with FDA approval confirms the safety and efficacy. The latest data shows COVID-19 vaccines to be above 70% in efficacy, which is higher than the flu vaccine annually. The safety data has been evaluated by the FDA and was a critical piece of their decision to move forward with Emergency Use Authorization (EUA). Additionally, even after the vaccine is administered, the FDA will continue to monitor for any side effects and overall safety for a minimum of two months. That said, Riverside is confident in the safety and efficacy of the vaccine for our community. 

What are the side effects of the vaccine going to be?
Early information on the vaccine has shown minor side effects like the Shingles vaccine, including:
  • Pain and tenderness at the injection site
  • Fatigue
  • Slight fever
  • Headache
  • Muscle/joint pain

More information will be available as the clinical trials progress and information is presented to the Food and Drug Administration.

If I’ve already tested positive for COVID-19, should I still get the vaccine?
Yes, you should be vaccinated regardless of whether you already had COVID-19. That’s because experts do not yet know how long you are protected from getting sick again after recovering from COVID-19. Even if you have already recovered from COVID-19, it is possible—although rare—that you could be infected with the virus that causes COVID-19 again. Studies have shown that vaccination provides a strong boost in protection in people who have recovered from COVID-19. Learn more about why getting vaccinated is a safer way to build protection than getting infected.

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

Are there concerns around the interaction between the flu and COVID-19 vaccines?
No. You can receive the both the COVID-19 and Flu vaccine at the same time. They must be administered at separate injection sites.

Is there anyone who should not get a COVID-19 vaccine? What if I have a chronic condition?

  • The Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine is not available to children under age 12. The Moderna and Johnson and Johnson vaccines are not available to anyone under the age of 18.
  • The COVID-19 vaccination might not be recommended for people with certain health conditions. Talk to your health care provider if you have questions about getting the vaccine.
  • For individuals that have had a previous severe allergic reaction to any component of the vaccine or injectable medication, talk with your doctor before getting the vaccine
  • For those that have had a severe allergic reaction to food or oral medications, talk with your doctor before getting the vaccine. If you receive the COVID-19 vaccine, you will be monitored for 30 minutes after the vaccine is administered
  • There are a lot of internet and social media rumors around the vaccine. If in doubt about the vaccine and your specific health condition, please talk with your healthcare provider before getting the COVID-19 vaccine..
  • Please note there is a 14 day waiting period if you have received any other vaccine and a 90 day waiting period if you have received COVID-19 monoclonal antibody or convalescent plasma.
  • For those that have received a steroid injection, it is recommended to wait 14-30 days before getting vaccinated.

Will I still need to wear a mask after I receive the vaccine?
Yes. While experts learn more about the protection that COVID-19 vaccines provide under real-life conditions, it will be important for everyone to continue using all the tools available to help stop this pandemic, like covering your mouth and nose with a mask, washing hands often, and staying at least 6 feet away from others. For best practices on how to remain safe and keep yourself and others healthy, check out our latest blog.

How do I know if I’m fully vaccinated and what does that mean for me? 
At this time, CDC guidelines note fully vaccinated people as those who have received both doses of either the Pfizer or Moderna shots, or one Johnson and Johnson vaccine two weeks ago or longer. Those in this category are permitted to do the following activities in a  non-healthcare setting:

  • Visit with other fully vaccinated people indoors without wearing masks or physical distancing
  • Visit with unvaccinated people from a single household who are at low risk for severe COVID-19 disease indoors without wearing masks or physical distancing
  • Refrain from quarantine and testing following a known exposure if asymptomatic

Riverside encourages fully vaccinated people to continue to engage in COVID-19 precautions such as mask-wearing and social distancing to protect themselves and others until herd immunity is reached.

Does the vaccine mean that other safety measures and restrictions can be relaxed or removed?
No. Efforts like wearing masks, social distancing, avoiding large gatherings and practicing hand hygiene remain essential to reduce the spread of COVID-19. That is why Riverside strongly supports everyone continuing to adhere to these safety guidelines.

While vaccine distribution is an essential part of our COVID-19 response, it will take many months before a large portion of the population can be vaccinated. As we get closer to reaching that goal, we encourage everyone to continue these precautions for their own safety and the protection of others.

The CDC released new guidelines for fully vaccinated people. How does this impact visiting policies for Riverside facilities (for example, emergency departments or Lifelong Health facilities)?
Effective July 13, 2021

Visitation restrictions have been lifted and we are returning to a pre-pandemic state, with the exception of (PUI) and COVID positive patients. No visitors will be allowed for Patient Under Investigation (PUI) and COVID positive patients. Visitation may differ by location. Find out what patients, care partners and guests need to know at your hospital:

Riverside Regional Medical Center
Riverside Doctors Hospital Williamsburg
Riverside Walter Reed Hospital
Riverside Shore Memorial Hospital