Note: This information is based on currently available evidence, resources, information, emergency use authorization, and expert opinion, and is subject to change.
Yes. On September 12, 2023, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommended that everyone aged 6 months and older receive at least one dose of a 2023–2024 COVID-19 vaccine. The 2023–2024 vaccines have been updated to target the Omicron XBB.1.5 variant and are expected to protect against other variants that are now common. Previous versions of COVID-19 vaccines are no longer authorized for use in the United States.
The 2023–2024 COVID-19 vaccines are now available on the commercial market, also known as commercialization. See other questions in this section to learn more about commercialization.
The end of the federal government’s COVID-19 public health emergency declaration means that we are no longer in the “emergency” phase of responding to the COVID-19 pandemic. Since COVID-19 continues to be present in the U.S. and Virginia, CDC and VDH will continue to respond to it.
Commercialization refers to the process by which COVID-19 vaccines and medications for the illness will go from being provided free of charge (paid for by the federal government) to being paid for by the patient through insurance, other coverage programs, or out of pocket. The 2023–2024 COVID-19 vaccines (Moderna and Pfizer products) will now be available through the commercial market, also known as commercialization.
For all purposes, yes. Most Americans will continue to pay nothing out-of-pocket for the COVID-19 vaccine.
For people with Medicare: COVID-19 vaccinations are covered under Medicare Part B without cost sharing, and this will continue.
For people with Medicaid: Medicaid will continue to cover all COVID-19 vaccinations without a co-pay or cost sharing through at least September 30, 2024, in certain healthcare settings.
For people with private health insurance or employer-sponsored health insurance: because vaccines are considered a preventive health service, most people will continue to pay nothing out-of-pocket for COVID-19 vaccines.
For children and adults who are uninsured or underinsured, the federal government has programs in place that will provide the new COVID-19 vaccine at no cost to the patient.
- Uninsured children will be able to receive COVID-19 vaccines through the existing Vaccines for Children (VFC) program. This initiative provides vaccines at no cost to children who might not otherwise be vaccinated because of their inability to pay.
- Uninsured and underinsured adults will have access to free COVID-19 vaccines through the Virginia Vaccines for Adults (VVFA) program which is funded by the CDC's Bridge Access Program through December 2024. Vaccines through this program will be available at local health departments (LHDs), federally qualified health centers (FQHCs), free clinics, CVS and Walgreens pharmacies, and some local healthcare providers.
Starting September 25, 2023, households can order 4 free tests from COVIDtests.gov. And before you throw out any expired COVID-19 tests, check to see if your COVID-19 tests' expiration dates have been extended. FDA lists out different At-Home COVID-19 tests, and many of their expiration dates have been extended.
Other than the 4 free tests from COVIDtests.gov, the cost of COVID-19 tests will depend on the type of health insurance you have:
- For people with Medicare: Medicare will continue to cover the cost of a COVID-19 test done by a medical provider. However, there may be a cost for the doctor’s visit. Medicare no longer pays for over the counter (OTC) tests.
- For people with private insurance or Medicare Advantage: For COVID-19 tests done by a medical provider, the cost of the test and associated doctor’s visit will be subject to health insurance plan guidelines. Free at-home tests will no longer be guaranteed, but some insurers may cover them.
- For people with Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP): Coverage with no cost sharing for COVID-19 tests (free over-the-counter tests and tests done by a health care provider) will continue until September 30, 2024.
- For people without insurance (no coverage): Many Local Health Departments (LHDs) still offer free testing. Use VDH’s Testing Locator to find a location or the CDC No-Cost COVID-19 Testing Locator to find a free test
No. Currently, the federal government provides two prescription medications for the treatment of COVID-19 free of charge: Paxlovid (nirmatrelvir with ritonavir) and Lagevrio (molnupiravir). These medications will continue to be widely available and at no cost to patients for some time after the end of the COVID-19 public health emergency declaration. The COVID-19 Therapeutics Locator let’s people and medical providers search for nearby sites that have medication
COVID-19 (coronavirus disease 2019) is a disease caused by a virus named SARS-CoV-2.
It can be very contagious and spreads by breathing in air that has small droplets and particles that contain the virus. It can also be spread by droplets and particles landing in someone’s eyes, nose, or mouth. Sometimes, the infected person may contaminate surfaces they touch, but this is uncommon. Anyone infected with COVID-19 can spread it, even if they do NOT have symptoms.
For more information on COVID-19, please visit:
Symptoms of COVID-19 may appear 2-14 days after exposure to the virus and can range from mild to severe. Possible symptoms include:
- Fever or chills
- Fatigue (tiredness)
- Muscle or body aches
- New loss of taste or smell or an altered sense of taste or smell
- Sore throat
- Congestion/runny nose
- Shortness of breath (difficulty breathing)
For more information visit CDC’s Symptoms of COVID-19 webpage.
There are many strategies to prevent COVID-19:
- Stay up to date on your COVID-19 vaccines.
- Stay home if you have COVID-19, and get treated as soon as possible if you are at high-risk for severe COVID-19.
- Increase ventilation in indoor spaces.
- Get tested immediately if you have symptoms of the illness.
CDC’s COVID-19 Hospital Admission Levels can help you decide what prevention steps you may want to take to protect yourself and others. You can also visit CDC’s How to Protect Yourself and Others webpage for more information.
- Wearing a mask for 10 days around others inside your home or indoors in public may reduce the risk of spreading COVID-19 to others after exposure. Day 1 is the first full day after your last exposure.
- Test immediately if you develop symptoms of COVID-19. If you have no symptoms and want to get tested, wait until at least Day 6.
- Visit the VDH Exposure to COVID-19 Website for more information.
- Isolate (stay home) from others for at least 5 days, even if you have no symptoms. Day 1 is the first full day after the day your symptoms started (or the first full day after you were tested if you have no symptoms).
- If you need support while isolating, you can request support from VDH Care Resource Coordination.
- If you are at high risk for severe illness, talk with your healthcare provider right away to see if you are eligible for treatment. Visit VDH’s COVID-19 treatment webpage for more information.
- After Day 5, you can end isolation if your symptoms improve (or if you never had symptoms). Continue to wear a mask around others indoors through Day 10.
- Visit VDH’s What to do if you have confirmed or suspected COVID-19 webpage for more information.
People who are in one or more of the following groups are at higher risk of developing serious COVID-19 illness:
- Older adults (generally aged 50 or older)
- People with weakened immune systems (immunocompromised)
- People of any age with certain medical conditions and disabilities
- For more information about who is at risk for serious illness, visit CDC's Factors That Affect Your Risk of Getting Very Sick from COVID-19.
Most people with COVID-19 have mild illness, and their symptoms can often be managed with over-the-counter medicines, such as acetaminophen (Tylenol) or ibuprofen (Motrin, Advil).
Prescription medications are available for those at high-risk for severe illness from COVID-19 that can reduce the chance of being hospitalized or dying from the disease. These treatments must be taken as soon as possible after symptoms start to be effective. If you have COVID-19 and are at high-risk for the development of severe illness, it is important that you contact your medical provider promptly to see if a prescription medication is appropriate for you. Visit the VDH COVID-19 Treatment Webpage for more information.
Everyone aged 6 months and older is eligible to receive a 2023–2024 COVID-19 vaccine, The number of doses a person will receive depends on their age, the brand of vaccine given, previous COVID-19 vaccines received, and if a person has a moderately or severely compromised immune system.
For more information, visit CDC’s Stay Up to Date with COVID-19 Vaccines webpage.
Yes, the 2023–2024 COVID-19 vaccines help protect against serious illness caused by strains of the virus that are currently circulating.
Many healthcare providers, pharmacies, and health departments offer COVID-19 vaccination. Visit vaccinate.virginia.gov to find a COVID-19 vaccine provider near you.
Testing for COVID-19
- If you have COVID-19 symptoms, you should be tested immediately.
- If you were exposed to COVID-19 and do not have symptoms, wait at least 5 full days after your exposure before getting tested. If you test too early, you may be more likely to get an inaccurate (false-negative) result.
- Consider testing before you have contact with someone at high risk for severe COVID-19, especially if you are in an area with a medium or high COVID-19 hospital admission level.
- For more information, please see CDC When to Get Tested for COVID-19.
Many healthcare providers, pharmacies, and health departments offer COVID-19 testing. You can also test yourself using a self-test (at-home test). Use the websites below to find a testing location near you and for information about self-testing.
- People aged 50 years or older
- People with an immunocompromised or weakened immune system
- People with underlying health conditions that increase their risk of developing severe COVID-19 illness.
See CDC’s Risk of Getting Very Sick Page for more information on how to prevent severe disease.
Treatment is most effective when taken within five days of when your symptoms start. It is important to contact your healthcare provider as soon as your symptoms start.
Visit VDH’s COVID-19 Treatment webpage for more information.
Long COVID is also known as post-COVID conditions. Long COVID consists of a variety of symptoms that can last for weeks or months after first being infected with the SARS-CoV-2 virus that causes COVID-19.
Long COVID can happen to anyone who has had COVID-19, even if their illness was mild, or even if they had no symptoms when they were first infected. People with long COVID may report different combinations of the following symptoms. Please note that the list below is not an all-inclusive list of symptoms that have been reported by patients with long-COVID.
- Tiredness or fatigue
- Difficulty thinking or concentrating (sometimes referred to as “brain fog”)
- Loss of smell or taste (or an altered sense of taste or smell)
- Dizziness upon standing
- Fast-beating or pounding heart (also known as heart palpitations)
- Chest pain
- Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
- Joint or muscle pain
- Depression or anxiety
Some of these symptoms can get worse after physical or mental activities.
Take measures to protect yourself from COVID-19 infection:
- Stay up to date with COVID-19 vaccinations
- CDC notes that COVID-19 immunizations can reduce a person’s chance of getting Long COVID.
- Take other measures to protect yourself from COVID-19 infection:
- This includes improving ventilation, wearing a mask when hospital admission levels are medium or high, avoiding contact with people with COVID-19, and following recommendations when you have been exposed to COVID-19 or are sick with COVID-19.
If you have COVID-19 get Early oral drug treatment of COVID-19 illness :
- Patients with COVID-19 who are at high-risk of more severe illness from viral infection should talk with their medical provider right away to see if drug therapy is right for them
- There are two oral medications current available to treat COVID-19. Paxlovid is the preferred medicine and Lagevrio is an alternate. Both are only available by prescription.
- There is some data that suggests that treatment of COVID-19 in high-risk patients with one of these medicines may reduce their chances of developing Long COVID.
- People who have had severe COVID-19 illness, especially those hospitalized or needing intensive care are more likely to get Long COVID.
Although many possible Long COVID treatments are being studied, no specific drug, vaccine, or other treatment for Long COVID has been shown to be effective in treating Long COVID.
However, as noted by CDC, “people experiencing post-COVID conditions can seek care from a healthcare provider to come up with a personal medical management plan that can help improve their symptoms and quality of life.” Additional information can be found on CDC’s Post-COVID Conditions website.
The National Institutes of Health (NIH) announced is currently enrolling people to participate in clinical trials that will evaluate 4 potential treatments for Long COVID-19 through the RECOVER Initiative. People 18 years of age and older who are interested in learning more about these trials can visit www.recovercovid.org.
Most post-COVID conditions can be diagnosed and managed by primary care providers. Visit CDC’s Patient Tips: Healthcare Provider Appointments for Post-COVID Conditions before seeing your doctor for more information. If needed, specialty care providers and support services (for example, occupational therapy, physical therapy, social work) can work with people with this condition to help them rehabilitate and regain their strength and abilities. Healthcare professionals may also consider referral to post-COVID care centers for additional care. For people with Long COVID who are having work difficulties, referral to an Occupational Medicine specialist may be helpful.
There are a number of post-COVID care centers (PCCCs) in Virginia and surrounding states. The following list may not include all centers. VDH does not recommend or endorse specific clinics.
- INOVA Post COVID-19 Recovery and Rehabilitation (Northern Virginia – Alexandria, Fairfax and Loudoun)
- UVA COVID and Special Pathogens clinic; by appointment only; requires referral from a healthcare provider (Charlottesville, VA)
- Sheltering Arms Post-COVID-19 (coronavirus) rehabilitation (Mechanicsville, VA)
- Sentara Heart Hospital Post-COVID Clinic (Norfolk, VA)
- George Washington University Hospital COVID Recovery-19 Recovery Clinic.
- For more locations and additional contact information, visit the Survivor Corps website (www.survivorcorps.com)
If you need support in accessing care for Long COVID, you can request support from VDH Care Resource Coordination.
There is a lack of expert consensus and guidance on whether a nebulizer treatment constitutes an aerosol generating procedure in the setting of COVID-19. It is uncertain whether aerosols generated from nebulizer treatments are infectious and may contribute to the transmission of COVID-19. Given this uncertainty, school may consider reserving the use of nebulizers to instances where children cannot use inhalers, do not have access to an inhaler, or for children who are in significant respiratory distress while awaiting emergency transport. Instead, metered dose inhalers (MDIs) with spacers (with or without a face mask, according to each student’s individualized treatment plan) may be used over nebulizer treatments whenever possible in the school setting.
If a nebulizer treatment is necessary, schools may, out of an abundance of caution, consider treating it as an aerosol generating procedure. Schools may consider the following factors when determining the policies (including personal protective equipment required by staff) around nebulizer use: 1) the uncertainty about whether nebulizer treatments may general infectious aerosols, 2) the ability to assess if the student has suspected/confirmed COVID-19 infection, 3) level of SARS-CoV-2 transmission in the community, considering both local and school-based COVID-19 trends (such as local COVID-19 hospital admission level and the existence of outbreaks in the school). For additional resources, please refer to the CDC Interim Infection Prevention and Control Recommendations for Healthcare Personnel During the COVID-19 Pandemic
People with certain medical conditions are more likely to get very sick with COVID-19. These individuals and/or their parents should discuss school attendance with their healthcare provider. Parents should provide the school with a healthcare provider’s documentation of the child’s healthcare needs and treatment protocols. This includes a healthcare provider authorization and parental consent to administer medication or treatments to students. Families are encouraged to meet with school staff, including teachers, school nurses, and administrators, to discuss safety measures and establish/update a Section 504 plan. Please discuss any concern you may have with your local school division.
Schools may consider providing remote learning exceptions and teleworking options for students and staff diagnosed with COVID-19 or who are at high risk of severe illness (as defined by the CDC). Please discuss any concerns you may have with your healthcare provider and local school division.
Recommendations for how and when to use masks or other face coverings for source control are outlined in CDC’s Interim Infection Prevention and Control Recommendations for Healthcare Personnel During the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) Pandemic.
Source control is recommended for individuals in healthcare settings who:
- Have suspected or confirmed SARS-CoV-2 infection or other respiratory infection (e.g., those with runny nose, cough, sneeze); or
- Had close contact (patients and visitors) or a higher-risk exposure (HCP) with someone with SARS-CoV-2 infection, for 10 days after their exposure.
Source control is recommended more broadly in the following circumstances:
- By those residing or working on a unit or area of the facility experiencing a SARS-CoV-2 outbreak; universal use of source control could be discontinued as a mitigation measure once no new cases have been identified for 14 days; or
- Facility-wide or, based on a facility risk assessment, targeted toward higher risk areas or higher risk patient populations during periods of higher levels of community SARS-CoV-2 or other respiratory virus transmission; or
- Have otherwise had source control recommended by public health authorities.
Individuals might also choose to continue using source control based on personal preference.
Note that CDC defines healthcare settings as “places where healthcare is delivered and includes, but is not limited to, acute care facilities, long-term acute care facilities, nursing homes, home healthcare, vehicles where healthcare is delivered (e.g., mobile clinics), and outpatient facilities, such as dialysis centers, physician offices, dental offices, and others.” A laboratory that only processes samples but does not have patient interactions would not be considered a healthcare setting. Additional considerations for determining when healthcare IPC recommendations apply to long-term care settings (excluding nursing homes) are outlined in the Long-Term Care section below.
More guidance on protection from COVID-19 by masks or other face coverings can be found on the CDC mask website.
For complete recommendations, see CDC’s Interim Guidance for Managing Healthcare Personnel with SARS-CoV-2 Infection or Exposure to SARS-CoV-2. This guidance describes conventional strategies, when a facility is not being impacted by staffing shortages due to COVID-19, for return to the workplace for HCP with SARS-CoV-2 infection or higher-risk exposures.
Additional CDC guidance addressing staffing shortages due to COVID-19 can be found here: Strategies to Mitigate Healthcare Personnel Staffing Shortages. This guidance describes contingency and crisis capacity strategies.
In general, CDC and VDH recommend facilities follow conventional strategies, the safest practice, when determining return to work criteria for healthcare personnel with SARS-CoV-2 infection.
If a facility is expecting or experiencing staffing shortages due to COVID-19 despite implementing recommendations from conventional strategies (e.g. employee COVID-19 vaccine, understanding staffing patterns/needs, communication with local healthcare coalitions and public health partners to identify backup HCP, etc.), CDC outlines mitigation strategies (contingency and crisis) a healthcare facility can consider.
Healthcare facilities should consider performing a risk assessment to determine their infection prevention and control recommendations, including when broader use of source control or universal use of personal protective equipment (e.g., eye protection for all patient care encounters) in the facility might be warranted.
Some factors to be considered are available local data metrics, including county-level SARS-CoV-2 hospital admissions data on the CDC COVID-19 Data Tracker, VDH emergency department visits for COVID-like illness, and facility-level information (e.g., recent transmission inside the facility, the population’s risk for severe outcomes from COVID-19, and facility characteristics that could accelerate spread) to determine when to add and remove prevention strategies.
Facilities could also follow trends of several respiratory viruses using CDC’s RESP-NET interactive dashboard or data from the National Emergency Department Visits for COVID-19, Influenza, and RSV to make decisions about broader use of source control based on national respiratory virus incidence. For more information, visit updated CDC COVID-19 Infection Prevention and Control guidance.
Long Term Care Facilities
All healthcare facilities, including nursing homes, should have a mechanism in place to promptly identify if a patient/resident or staff member has signs/symptoms of any communicable disease. The mechanism and frequency of monitoring asymptomatic individuals is at the discretion of the facility.
If using crisis staffing standards that may jeopardize the health, safety, and well-being of residents of the facility, then nursing facilities licensed by the VDH Office of Licensure and Certification (OLC) and assisted living facilities licensed by the Virginia Department of Social Services are required to notify their licensing entity (the OLC or the DSS regional licensing office, respectively) of the conditions and status of the residents and the physical plant as soon as possible.
In general, assisted living facilities and other congregate care settings (e.g., group homes) whose staff provide non-skilled personal care (e.g., bathing, dressing) similar to what is provided by family members in the home should follow community prevention strategies based on COVID-19 hospital admission levels. Additional recommendations for these settings are outlined in the CDC COVID-19 Congregate Living Settings guidance.
However, visiting or shared healthcare personnel who enter the assisted living facility to provide healthcare (e.g., physical therapy, wound care, intravenous injections, catheter care) to one or more residents should follow the healthcare infection prevention and control (IPC) recommendations. Also, staff providing in-person services for a resident with SARS-CoV-2 infection should follow CDC healthcare IPC guidance.
The Virginia Department of Social Services provides additional guidance for assisted living facilities regarding implementation of the CDC recommendations including masking, screening, and visitation in a memo issued on October 26, 2022.
LTCFs are recommended to use their regular facility-pharmacy operations to acquire the COVID-19 vaccine for their residents and/or staff. LTCFs should maintain open and constant communication with their contracted pharmacy providers to discuss meeting COVID-19 vaccine needs moving forward. If your LTCF does not have a contracted pharmacy partner, see FAQs below for how to access vaccine.
The VDH Pharmacy Team is working to improve access to COVID-19 vaccines in LTC settings. Facilities that order and offer vaccination by other means should utilize their standard channels. Facilities that otherwise do not have access to COVID-19 vaccines and require assistance with obtaining vaccine may reach out to COVIDPharmacySupport@vdh.virginia.gov.
The Federal pharmacy partnership program will not be reinstated by CDC for COVID-19 vaccine assistance. However, CDC has partnered with various pharmacies to ensure LTCFs are able to access the COVID-19 vaccine. For more information, visit the CDC pharmacy partner contact information page. If you require further assistance in coordinating vaccines for your facility, please contact your local health district or email COVIDPharmacySupport@vdh.virginia.gov.
Facilities are encouraged to enroll as a vaccine provider to be able to order and administer vaccines to staff and residents. For more information, visit the VDH Provider Enrollment Process Flow & Checklist.
If enrolling as a vaccine provider is not an option, you can consider identifying a local pharmacy to contract with.
LTCFs may also submit an off-site clinic request with pharmacies who may be able to assist facilities with their vaccination needs. For more information, visit the CDC pharmacy partner contact information page.
If you require further assistance in coordinating COVID-19 vaccines for your facility, please contact your local health district or email COVIDPharmacySupport@vdh.virginia.gov.
LTCFs are able to order and administer vaccines through VaxMaX if the facility is enrolled as a vaccine provider. For more information on how to enroll as a vaccine provider, visit the VDH Provider Enrollment Process Flow & Checklist.
Patient education about the COVID-19 vaccine can be found on the VDH website. These resources can be used to help educate LTCF residents and staff who remain vaccine hesitant.
There are multiple factors to be considered before deciding whether to conduct a vaccine clinic during an active COVID-19 outbreak.
- Individuals with active COVID-19 infection are not recommended to receive a vaccine.
- If the outbreak is under control and is restricted to one unit/area of the facility, the clinic can be conducted by following the recommendations from CDC infection prevention guidance (under “indoor visitation during an outbreak response”).
- If the facility’s current outbreak response plan includes expanding routine COVID-19 testing, it is prudent to reschedule the vaccine clinic to a later date.
- The facility should notify the clinic provider about the outbreak situation to discuss next steps.
End of COVID-19 Public Health Emergency Declaration
End of Public Health Emergency
No. Ending the public health emergency declaration does not mean that COVID-19 is gone or that the pandemic is over. It simply means that the “emergency phase” of the federal government’s COVID-19 response is ending. CDC and VDH will continue to have active responses to the COVID-19 pandemic. According to the World Health Organization, the COVID-19 pandemic is not over.
Because COVID-19 continues to be present, people should continue to take steps to protect themselves and others:
Everyone aged six months is eligible to receive a 2023–2024 COVID-19 vaccine which protects against variants that are currently circulating. Visit the CDC website to learn more about staying up to date on COVID-19 vaccines. To find a vaccine appointment, visit vaccinate.virginia.gov, call 877-VAX-IN-VA (877-829-4682), or text your zip code to GETVAX (438829) for English or VACUNA (822862) for Spanish.
No. Medical practitioners, medical practices, pharmacies, hospitals, etc. will continue to order COVID-19 medications through Health Partner Order Portal (HPOP) as they have been doing.
Yes, for eligible organizations. The VDH COVID-19 Testing Team will continue to distribute free at-home/point-of-care tests through the remainder of our grants ending in July 2024. Requests can be made using the VDH At-Home/Point-of-Care Request Form. Organizations eligible to receive free tests include:
- Local Health Departments
- Confinement Facilities (adult prisons and jails; juvenile confinement facilities; police lockups; community treatment centers, halfway houses, restitution centers, mental health facilities, alcohol or drug rehabilitation centers)
- Free Clinics
- Food Banks (only facilities that primarily consider themselves a food bank)
- Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHCs)
- Homeless Services Providers
- Public libraries enrolled in the Supporting Testing Access through Community Collaboration (STACC) program
- K-12 Schools
- Childcare facilities (via local health districts)
For Virginia-related benefits please visit Virginia Department of Social Services and Virginia Medicaid: COVID-19: Return to Normal Enrollment.
For information from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) please visit CMS Public Health Emergency FAQs.
For more information, please visit:
- CDC’s End of the Federal COVID-19 Public Health Emergency (PHE) Declaration webpage
- White House Fact Sheet: Actions Taken by the Biden-Harris Administration to Ensure Continued COVID-19 Protections and Surge Preparedness After Public Health Emergency Transition
- HHS COVID-19 Public Health Emergency
- The End of the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency: Details on Health Coverage and Access