COVID-19
FAQ FAQ

FAQ

COVID-19 Symptoms

Learn more about the differences between COVID, allergies, cold and flu.

View our comparison chart

If you think you have been exposed to COVID-19 and develop a fever and symptoms such as a cough or difficulty breathing, call your doctor for medical advice.


General Information

SLUHN continues to monitor infection rates and update visitation policies as needed. To help maintain a healthy environment, we require all staff, patients, and visitors to wear a mask* (covering your nose and mouth) at all times – regardless of vaccination status. Currently, out of an abundance of caution for our immunocompromised patients, we are not permitting visitors in our infusion and radiation therapy treatment areas.

For more detailed information regarding St. Luke’s Visitor Policies, please choose from the below:

*masks with values are not permitted

Fact Sheets

Additional Information


For the most up-to-date information about COVID-19 vaccines, visit the Centers for Disease Control and PA Department of Health.

St. Luke’s is committed to doing everything we can to ensure your safety and that of the general public. We are diligently working to address the Coronavirus / COVID-19 pandemic in our community. By limiting our visitors and implementing screening protocols, we are working to ensure the health and safety of everyone in our facilities. These measures are intended to allow hospitals to be prepared for the anticipated surge in COVID-19 cases as well as to limit patient and caregiver exposure. We have also established a hotline at 1-866-STLUKES (785-8537), option 7, to offer advice and help connect you with the resources you need during this pandemic.

The safety and wellbeing of our community is of the highest priority to us. We understand that you may feel anxious about the spread of COVID-19, but we want to assure you that we are closely monitoring the situation in collaboration with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and World Health Organization (WHO), and we are developing solutions to best serve our patients, staff and community.

To help protect yourself and others, follow CDC recommendations to take commonsense measures, such as:

  • Perform hand hygiene with soap and water or hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol often, but especially after going to the bathroom, after blowing your nose/coughing/sneezing, before eating and after coming into contact with a potentially contaminated public surface
  • Avoid touching your face
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick
  • Avoid unnecessary crowd exposure
  • Wear a mask when you go out in public
  • Stay home when you are sick. Call your health care provider’s office in advance of a visit
  • Cover your coughs and sneezes with a tissue or cough and sneeze into the crook of your elbow
  • Clean frequently touched surfaces and objects daily (e.g., tables, countertops, light switches, doorknobs and cabinet handles) using a regular household detergent and water
  • Know where to find local information on COVID-19 and local trends of COVID-19 cases
  • Know the signs and symptoms of COVID-19 and what to do if symptomatic
  • Limit movement in the community
  • Limit visitors
  • Know what additional measures those at higher risk and who are vulnerable should take.
  • Create a household plan of action in case of illness in the household or disruption of daily activities due to COVID-19 in the community
  • Consider a 2-week supply of prescription and over the counter medications, food and other essentials. Know how to get food delivered if possible
  • Establish ways to communicate with others (e.g., family, friends, co-workers)
  • Establish plans to telecommute, what to do about childcare needs, how to adapt to cancellation of events
  • Stay informed about your municipality’s and state’s emergency plans
  • Know about emergency operations plans for schools/workplaces of household members

Why do viruses change?
Viruses constantly change through mutation, and new variants of a virus are expected to occur. A variant has one or more mutations that differentiate it from other variants in circulation. As expected, multiple variants of SARS-CoV-2 have been documented in the United States and globally throughout this pandemic. To inform local outbreak investigations and understand national trends, scientists compare genetic differences between viruses to identify variants and how they are related to each other.

What is the Omicron Variant?
Omicron is a new strain of COVID that has multiple mutations to the spike protein compared to Delta (the current predominant strain in the US). Omicron first emerged in South Africa in late November where there was an extremely low vaccination rate. It has now been identified in 77 countries, although the WHO reports it is likely worldwide. It has been identified in 37 of 50 states in the US and is felt to represent 3% of all US cases. It seems to be particularly surging in the Northeast and is estimated to represent at least 13% of cases in NJ and NY. In fact, the 2 cases we have identified at St. Luke’s have probable links to the NJ/NY area.

What is the Delta Variant?
To assist with public discussions of variants, the World Health Organization proposed using labels consisting of the Greek Alphabet, e.g., Alpha, Beta, Gamma, as a practical way to discuss variants by non-scientific audiences. Delta is the B.1.617.2 "mutant" strain originating in India. Delta is now the predominant strain (>80%) in the US. https://covid.cdc.gov/covid-data-tracker/#variant-proportions

What are the variants currently in the United States?
Multiple variants are being monitored. Currently there are four notable variants in the United States:

  • B.1.1.7 (Alpha): This variant was first detected in the United States in December 2020. It was initially detected in the United Kingdom.
  • B.1.351 (Beta): This variant was first detected in the United States at the end of January 2021. It was initially detected in South Africa in December 2020.
  • P.1 (Gamma): This variant was first detected in the United States in January 2021. P.1 was initially identified in travelers from Brazil, who were tested during routine screening at an airport in Japan, in early January.
  • B.1.617.2 (Delta): This variant was first detected in the United States in March 2021. It was initially identified in India in December 2020.
  • B.1.1.529 (Omicron): This variant was first detected in the United States in December 2021. It was initially identified in South Africa and Botswana in November 2021.

These variants seem to spread more easily and quickly than other variants, which may lead to more cases of COVID-19. An increase in the number of cases will put more strain on healthcare resources, lead to more hospitalizations, and potentially more deaths.

So far, studies suggest that the current authorized vaccines work on the circulating variants. Scientists will continue to study these and other variants.

How is the Delta variant different?
The Delta variant is more contagious than other variants and it is more able to be spread by vaccinated individuals. Delta may cause more serious disease. People who have not been fully vaccinated against COVID-19 are most at risk.

How is the Omnicron variant different?
Scientists from South Africa believe omicron is fast spreading and may lead to more cases of reinfection in people who've already had COVID-19. Omicron has more mutations on its spike protein than the delta variant does.

https://www.nytimes.com/2021/06/22/health/delta-variant-covid.html https://www.nytimes.com/2021/07/30/health/covid-cdc-delta-masks.html

Patients who have Lost their Proof of Vaccine Card:
Using both of these options, the patient will receive a medical record printout verification; they will not receive an actual replacement CDC vaccination card.

MyChart

  1. Log into your St. Luke’s MyChart account: https://www.slhn.org/mychart/login
  2. Under the “Menu” dropdown at the top left corner of the screen, under “My Record”, click on “COVID-19”
  3. Download and print your vaccination Record

Medical Records Release Process (there is no charge for the vaccination record)

  1. Go to: https://www.slhn.org/patients-visitors/medical-records
  2. About halfway down the screen, refer to the “Requesting Your Record” Section
  3. Click on the “Medical Information Release” link to print out and complete the release form.
    • “X” the OTHER box, and write in: COVID-19 Vaccination Record
    • If you would like the record emailed back to you, be sure to do the following:
      Enter your email address in the “I authorize: _______ to release my medical Records to:” section
  4. Submit the form to Medical Records via one of the following methods:
    • Email: releaseofinformation@sluhn.org
    • Mail to: St. Luke’s Medical Records, 77 S. Commerce Way, Bethlehem, PA 18017
    • Fax to: 833-932-1185
    • Questions? Call Medical Records at 484-526-4719

Individuals with the following conditions are recommended for the third dose:

  • Receiving active cancer treatment for tumors or cancers of the blood
  • Received an organ transplant and are taking medicine to suppress the immune system
  • Received a stem cell transplant within the last 2 years or are taking medicine to suppress the immune system
  • Moderate or severe primary immunodeficiency (such as DiGeorge syndrome, Wiskott-Aldrich syndrome)
  • Advanced or untreated HIV infection
  • Active treatment with high-dose corticosteroids or other drugs that may suppress your immune response

People who are symptomatic and have tested positive using an at-home test should NOT seek a second, confirmatory laboratory test from the Network. (An at-home test that produces a positive result in a symptomatic individual is considered highly accurate, so a second, laboratory test is not necessary to confirm the diagnosis.)

People who believe they have been exposed to Covid but are not symptomatic should NOT go to a St. Luke’s hospital emergency department or a St. Luke’s Care Now urgent care location for a Covid test to rule out infection.

Additionally, people should NOT go to the hospital emergency department or a St. Luke’s Care Now urgent care location for a Covid test for travel needs.

Learn more

As you care for the health of you and your baby, you will make many important decisions. Getting a COVID-19 vaccine is the best way to protect both of you against the virus.

The CDC and American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) recommend you get vaccinated if you:

  • Are pregnant
  • May become pregnant in the future, or are
  • Currently breastfeeding.

Should I get a COVID-19 vaccine if I am pregnant?
Yes. It is safe and effective. The COVID-19 vaccine protects you from serious illness and keeps you healthy, so you can keep your baby healthy. Pregnant people who get COVID during their pregnancy are at higher risk of having a preterm birth.

The American Society for Reproductive Medicine says getting vaccinated before becoming pregnant or early in your pregnancy is the best way to reduce risk of complications from COVID-19 for you and your baby.

Can getting COVID-19 while I’m pregnant cause problems for me or my baby?
Yes, a recent multinational study shows pregnant people who catch COVID run a greater risk of:

  • Maternal mortality
  • Preeclampsia, and
  • Preterm birth.

Am I at a higher risk of severe COVID because I am pregnant?
Yes. The CDC says pregnant women are at significantly higher risk for severe COVID compared with nonpregnant women.

When you are pregnant, your body changes in many ways. Your risk of getting severe COVID increases due to these changes, including:

  • Increased heart rate
  • Increased oxygen consumption, and
  • Decreased lung capacity.

Is the COVID vaccine safe if I am trying to get pregnant or want to get pregnant in the future?
Yes, the vaccine is safe. There is no evidence that any vaccine – including any of the three COVID-19 vaccines – cause fertility problems in women or men. A recent report from the v-safe safety monitoring system showed 4,800 people had a positive pregnancy test after receiving a first dose of Pfizer or Moderna vaccine.

Two studies following pregnant people who received Pfizer or Moderna vaccines just before or during early pregnancy have not found an increased risk for miscarriage.

What other data exists around fertility after vaccination?
A recent study, compared pregnancy success rates across three groups of women undergoing in-vitro fertilization:

  • Women vaccinated against COVID-19
  • Women with antibodies from having a recent infection with the virus that causes COVID-19
  • Women without antibodies from either having a recent infection with the virus that causes COVID-19 or from having been vaccinated against COVID-19

The study found no differences in pregnancy success rates.

If I am breastfeeding, should I still get the COVID vaccine?
Yes, the CDC recommends the COVID vaccine for people who are breastfeeding. Reports have shown that breastfeeding people who have been vaccinated have antibodies in their breastmilk, which could help protect their babies.

Can the COVID-19 vaccine give me or my baby COVID-19?
No. The vaccine does not contain any live virus, so it cannot give you or your baby COVID-19. The vaccine teaches your body to recognize COVID-19 and create an immune response.

The vaccine is eliminated from your body shortly after receiving the shot leaving only the immune response. The immune response is like the one you would receive after getting sick with COVID, but you avoid the damage that COVID can cause to your body.

What else can I do to keep my baby safe?
You can create a COVID-safe “cocoon” by getting vaccinated and encouraging those that come into contact with your baby to also get vaccinated.


More information can be found at PA.GOV/COVID

Children and Adolescents

The Pfizer COVID-19 Vaccine is available for kids as young as 5. Vaccinating our children is a critical step in protecting them from COVID and its complications, but also in helping our children return to school, sports, camp and a general sense of normalcy.

All minors (under 18) will need to have a parent or guardian complete the Minor Consent Form. Consent forms will also be available onsite.

Individuals ages 13+ are able to register for their own St. Luke’s MyChart account and are able to schedule themselves. Individuals who are 5 to 12 years old will need a parent to create an account or schedule on their behalf.

The same rigorous testing that went into the studies for individuals ages 12 years of age and older was followed for the 5 to 11 year old age group as well. The FDA and CDC have approved the Pfizer vaccine for use in this age group because it has been proven to be safe and effective in preventing COVID.

The American Academy of Pediatrics also fully supports the recommendation to vaccinate children ages 5 years and older.

While it is true that most severe cases of COVID (hospitalization, ICU admissions and deaths) are attributed to an older population, our children are not immune from contracting COVID, and here at St. Luke’s we have seen the number of hospitalizations in the pediatric population rise in the past several months. By giving the vaccine to children ages 5+ years, we can now protect even more children from getting sick. An added benefit is that we can also cut down on their risk of spreading it to other family members, older or younger.

Not quite. The ingredients are identical. However, 5 to 11 year old's will receive a reduced dose which is one-third of the standard amount. The vaccine is still administered in two parts, two shots spaced approximately three weeks apart.

Yes, just make sure that you have completed the Minor Consent Form ahead of time and send it with your child.

Our team of nurses and doctors are very familiar with needle phobia (Trypanophobia). Just let us know ahead of time and we will pull out all our specialties to help your child feel as relaxed and comfortable as possible.

Yes, we want to make this experience as easy and as friendly as possible for everyone. If your child has a special need or something that will make them more comfortable, just communicate it to us during the check-in process and we will assist. Also, feel free to bring along something like a tablet or favorite toy if it helps calm your child.

Studies for children ages 6 months through 5 years old are still underway. We anticipate more information in early 2022.

Like many other vaccines, the COVID-19 vaccine can cause mild to moderate symptoms related to the induced immune response.