Updated COVID-19 vaccine
The COVID-19 vaccine available in fall 2023 is an updated vaccine, not a booster. It targets the current form of COVID-19, which changes over time.
OHSU recommends that everyone age 6 months and older get the updated vaccine to protect against serious illness.
- Ages 5 and older: One shot is enough to fully vaccinate most people 5 and older, even if they've never had a COVID-19 vaccine before.
- Younger than 5: Children under age 5 should see their doctor for recommendations.
Find a vaccine:
It’s safe to get the COVID-19 and flu vaccines at the same time.
Cost: Because COVID-19 is no longer a public health emergency, vaccines may no longer be free of charge. OHSU will bill you for what your insurance doesn’t pay. Vaccines are still free under Medicare, Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program.
OHSU mask policy
OHSU requires masks for ages 2 and older:
- In areas where patients and staff are at greatest risk.
- By patient request.
- Based on guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
OHSU respects all who choose to wear masks, at any time and in any setting. The reasons to wear a mask may be very personal. We expect all OHSU members, patients and visitors to respect this choice.
OHSU strongly recommends mask-wearing throughout our health care system, including at OHSU hospitals and clinics, Hillsboro Medical Center and Adventist Health Portland. OHSU highly recommends all patients wear masks when outside their room.
OHSU staff will wear masks if asked to do so by patients or family members, and are expected to ask about your masking preference. Please let us know at any time if you would like us to wear masks.
You are at high risk of serious illness from COVID-19 if you:
- Are unvaccinated
- Are 65 or older
- Have a weakened immune system (immunocompromised)
- Have certain health conditions
You can lower your risk of getting COVID-19 by getting vaccinated and avoiding the three C’s: crowded places, closed spaces and close conversation.
Symptoms usually appear two to 14 days after exposure. They can include:
- Cough, shortness of breath or trouble breathing
- Sore throat, congestion or runny nose
- Fever or chills
- Muscle or body aches or headache
- Nausea or vomiting
- New loss of taste or smell
Studies show that people are contagious starting two to three days before they have symptoms of COVID-19. On average, people are no longer contagious about a week after symptoms start. Some people may not have any symptoms.
If you have mild or moderate symptoms, stay home except to get medical care.
- Get plenty of rest.
- Drink lots of fluids.
- Take over-the-counter medicines, like acetaminophen or ibuprofen, to reduce fever.
- Stay away from others in your home as much as possible. If you must be near others, wear a mask.
- Monitor your symptoms. If they get worse, contact a health care professional for advice. You can get advice virtually or in person through OHSU’s Immediate Care services.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has guidelines for staying away from others.
You have long COVID-19 if you still have symptoms a month after testing positive. Studies show about 25% of people who get COVID-19 develop long COVID. Everyone who gets COVID-19 is at risk, including children and people who had mild cases or no symptoms.
Symptoms of long COVID-19 vary widely and can affect almost every organ system. They include:
- Extreme fatigue
- Brain fog
- Emotional challenges
- Shortness of breath
- Chest pain or discomfort
- Heart issues
- Digestive symptoms
- Nerve pain
Long COVID-19 that greatly limits a person's daily life can be considered a disability under the Americans With Disabilities Act.
When to get a vaccine
If you have had COVID-19 symptoms, wait until:
- It’s been at least 10 days since your symptoms appeared.
- You’ve had no fever for at least 24 hours, without using fever-reducing medication.
- Other symptoms are improving (not including loss of taste or smell, which can last weeks or months).
If you tested positive for COVID-19 but did not have symptoms: Wait at least 10 days after your positive test.
If you were treated with Paxlovid: Wait until you are well and no longer contagious.
If you were treated with remdesivir: Wait 90 days.
Paxlovid treats mild to moderate COVID-19 by stopping the virus from making copies of itself. Treatment is most effective early, and must start within five days of first symptoms.
Patients take three tablets twice a day for five days — 30 pills in all. In clinical trials, Paxlovid greatly reduced the risk of serious illness or death for people at high risk.
To qualify for Paxlovid treatment, you must:
- Be age 12 or older.
- Weigh at least 40 kilograms (about 88 pounds).
- Be at high risk of severe illness.
- Have mild to moderate symptoms of COVID-19 that do not require hospital care.
- Have symptoms that started less than five days before.
Paxlovid is not recommended for those with severe kidney or liver disease or for people with weakened immune systems (immunocompromised).
Paxlovid can cause complications for people who take heart-related medications, including blood thinners and some drugs that lower cholesterol (statins). It's best to talk with your doctor about possible interactions. You can pause using some drugs safely during Paxlovid treatment.
Remdesivir is an antiviral medication. The FDA has approved remdesivir for people who have mild to moderate cases of COVID-19 and are at high risk of developing severe illness. It seems most effective early in an infection, when the disease is mild.
OHSU is the only hospital in Oregon that offers remdesivir to people who aren’t in the hospital.
To get remdesivir if you are not in a hospital, you must:
- Have started having COVID symptoms in the prior seven days
- Be at high risk for serious illness
- Be unable to take Paxlovid for COVID because you:
- Take other medications that would conflict with Paxlovid and cannot be adjusted
- Have kidneys that don’t work well
In a 2021 study, unvaccinated people who got remdesivir had an 87% lower risk of being admitted to the hospital or dying than people who got a placebo.
Remdesivir is given as an injection three days in a row. After each dose, you need to stay at least one hour in case you have a strong reaction. Side effects can include nausea or liver inflammation.
Lagevrio is an antiviral medication that treats mild to moderate COVID-19. Treatment must start within five days after symptoms begin. It is most effective early.
You qualify for treatment with Lagevrio if you:
- Are 18 or older
- Have tested positive for COVID-19
- Are at high risk of serious illness
- Are not in the hospital
- Have symptoms that started less than five days before
- Are not recommended for or are not able to get other COVID-19 treatments
Patients take four capsules every 12 hours for five days — a total of 40 pills. In clinical trials, Lagevrio reduced the risk of serious illness or death for people at high risk.
Sharing test results keep communities safer by helping public health teams see where and how fast COVID-19 is spreading. You can report your result without using your name at MakeMyTestCount.org, a National Institutes of Health website.
There are two types of tests: viral tests and antibody tests.
To find out if you are infected, you need a viral test. Viral tests detect SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19.
There are two types of viral tests:
- Rapid antigen tests look for antigens (proteins) related to the coronavirus. Rapid tests are fast and easy to use. Self-tests can be used at home. They are more likely to give false negative results, especially if you don’t have any symptoms.
- Laboratory PCR tests look for genetic material from the virus. They take longer to produce results and must be done by a clinic or pharmacy. They are more accurate than rapid tests.
- COVID-19 Testing: What You Need to Know, CDC
The CDC recommends that you test:
- Immediately if you have symptoms of COVID-19.
- After five days if you came in close contact with someone with COVID-19.
- If you test negative using a home test, take another after 48 hours or get a PCR test as soon as you can.
- If you test negative a second time using a home test, test again after another 48 hours.
It's also a good idea to test one or two days before attending an event or visiting someone at high risk, the CDC says.
Learn more: When to Get Tested for COVID-19, CDC
Emergency care for COVID-19
Get care right away for severe symptoms, including:
- Trouble breathing
- Persistent pain or pressure in the chest
- New confusion
- Inability to awaken or stay awake
- Bluish or gray tint on lips or face (depending on skin color)
- Oregon Hospital Forecast and Trends for COVID-19 and other infectious diseases, OHSU
- COVID-19 Updates, Oregon Health Authority
- COVID-19, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
- Coronavirus (COVID-19), OHSU News
- Community help:
- Call 211 from a mobile phone.
- Call 503-222-5555 from a landline.
- Email firstname.lastname@example.org for general information.