Questions About the VACCINE
For information about the vaccine, safety, clinics, FAQs, and more:
• Visit the NYS COVID-19 vaccine website,
• Call the NYS Vaccination Hotline, 1.833.NYS.4VAX (1.833.697.4829).
• Call the Upstate COVID-19 Vaccine Hotline, 315.464.3979 (option #2)
• Email your questions to CovidVaccineInfo@Upstate.edu.
Everyone age 12 and over in New York State is eligible to receive the vaccine! The Pfizer vaccine is approved for ages 12 and older, while Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccine is approved for those age 18 and up.
Everyone age 12 and over in New York State is eligible to receive the vaccine! The Pfizer vaccine is approved for ages 12 and older, while Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines are approved for those age 18 and up. Proof of age is required (driver's license, non-driver's ID, birth certificate, school ID, etc.), and children under age 18 must be accompanied by a parent or legal guardian.
Supply is limited and demand is high, so it may take some time to get an appointment.
New York State Clinics (including the Fairgrounds)
Make an appointment at a New York State-run vaccine site here or call the New York State Vaccination Hotline, 1.833.NYS.4VAX (1.833.697.4829).
Onondaga County Clinic
Make an appointment at an Onondaga County clinic here.
Many physicians and local pharmacies are able to provide the vaccine, call ahead for more information.
You do not need to have insurance to get the vaccine. Insurance information will be collected, but there will be no out-of-pocket costs.
Your second dose must be the same vaccine as your first dose, they are not interchangeable. The Moderna and Pfizer vaccines both require a second dose. The Janssen/Johnson & Johnson vaccine only requires one dose.
The second dose must be administered 21 days (Pfizer vaccine) or 28 days (Moderna vaccine) after the first dose. Those who receive the vaccine must return to the same location to receive the second dose unless NYSDOH approves an alternative due to extenuating circumstances.
Q: I received my vaccine at a New York State-run vaccine clinic and have a question, who can I talk to?
The clinic at the Expo Center at the Fairgrounds was run by New York State, so please call their COVID-19 Vaccination Hotline, which is open 7AM - 10PM, 7 days a week: 1-833-NYS-4-VAX (1-833-697-4829).
Please be prepared for your appointment with the following:
- Make an appointment HERE.
Our Tuesday clinic at the Civic Center also takes walk-ins.
- Complete the screening and consent form.
Please print and complete the form available here. The link will also be provided in the confirmation email you receive once your appointment is made.
- Provide proof of age upon arrival at the clinic.
Please note that children under the age of 18 must be accompanied by a parent/guardian.
- Bring your insurance card with you to the clinic. You will be asked for insurance information BUT the vaccine is free and there will never be a charge to you, and you do not need to have insurance to get the vaccine.
It is normal to have certain reactions after a vaccination. There may be redness, swelling or pain around the injection site. Fatigue, fever, headache and aching limbs are also not uncommon in the first three days after vaccination. When mild side effects occur, they are a normal sign your body is building protection to the virus, and most go away in a few days. Learn more here.
After receiving your vaccine, please register for v-safe, a smartphone-based tool that provides personalized health check-ins so you can quickly tell CDC if you have any side effects or report side effects through the CDC Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS).
The groundbreaking cooperation between leading medical experts here in America and pharmaceutical companies globally has made a return to normal possible thanks to the COVID-19 vaccine. The speed of development was due to the sharing of research on a scale never attempted before – and every study, and every phase of every trial, was carefully reviewed and approved by a safety board and the FDA. The process was transparent and rigorous throughout, with continual oversight and expert approval. Data will continue to be collected two years after each vaccine is first administered to ensure that the long-term effects are safe.
Fully vaccinated persons who show no symptoms of COVID-19 are not required to quarantine, however, they should get tested 3-5 days after their exposure and wear a mask indoors in public for 14 days following exposure or until their test result is negative.
Q: I received my first dose of the vaccine at an Onondaga County Clinic. How do I schedule my second dose?
You do not have to make an appointment for your second dose; your second dose appointment is automatically scheduled when you get your first dose.
The Moderna and Pfizer vaccines both require a second dose. The Janssen/Johnson & Johnson vaccine only requires one dose.
Your second dose must be the same vaccine as your first dose, they are not interchangeable. The second dose must be administered 21 days (Pfizer vaccine) or 28 days (Moderna vaccine) after the first dose. Those who receive the vaccine must return to the same location to receive the second dose unless NYSDOH approves an alternative due to extenuating circumstances.
PLEASE NOTE: You must bring the vaccine card proving you received the first dose with you to your appointment.
Questions About TESTING
Anyone can now get tested for COVID-19. Call your primary care physician, search for a test site near you, make an appointment at an Onondaga County asymptomatic rapid (antigen) testing location, or through Upstate Medical University and the Syracuse Community Health Center for PCR testing. Physicians, pharmacies, and urgent care centers may offer testing as well, please call ahead to inquire.
No. The COVID-19 testing offered by Onondaga County test sites is an asymptomatic rapid (antigen) test.
Anyone can now get tested for COVID-19, regardless of whether you have symptoms. It is especially important to get tested when:
- An individual is symptomatic or has a history of symptoms of COVID-19 (e.g. fever, cough, and/or trouble breathing), particularly if the individual is 70 years of age or older, the individual has a weakened immune system, or the individual has an underlying health condition); or
- An individual has had close (i.e. within six feet) or proximate contact with a person known to be positive with COVID-19; or
- An individual is subject to a precautionary or mandatory quarantine; or
- An individual is employed as a health care worker, first responder, or other essential worker who directly interacts with the public.
- All domestic and international travelers should continue to follow all CDC testing recommendations.
Contact the provider where the test was given. If your test is positive, you will be contacted by a Contact Tracer.
If your test is positive, you will be contacted by a NYS Contact Tracer who will interview you to gather information including symptom history, source of illness, list of close contacts, and activity history while infectious. The Contact Tracer will provide you with instructions for isolation and help you get any services you may need while in isolation, and provide you with an official isolation order. That order indicates the date of release, which serves as the official paperwork for return to work or school. There is no separate release paperwork.
An antibody test looks for the presence of antibodies, which are specific proteins made in response to infections. Antibodies can be found in the blood of people who are tested after infection and show that people have had an immune response to the infection. Antibody test results are especially important for detecting previous infections with few or no symptoms. We do not know, however, if the antibodies that result from SARS-CoV-2 infection will provide someone with immunity from future infection.
If you would like to receive antibody testing, please contact your primary care provider. Please keep in mind the following:
• The offered test may not have been reviewed by the FDA.
• Negative results do not rule out COVID-19 infection
• Positive antibody test results does not mean you have immunity against the virus
Based on our knowledge of how the body reacts to an infection, we presume that the presence of antibodies could mean that you have some level of immunity to a virus. However, at this time, it is unclear whether the presence of SARS-CoV-2 (the virus that causes COVID-19) IgG antibodies will result in immunity to prevent future COVID-19 infections. We will better understand immunity to SARS-CoV-2 as we study what happens to people who test positive for SARS-CoV-2 IgG antibodies and are again exposed to SARS-CoV-2, to determine if any of them are confirmed to have new infections.
Questions About SCHOOLS
Where can I get information about school reopening or what happens if a student or staff tests positive for COVID-19?
Please see our school reopening page for links to guidance, resources, and a list of school-specific FAQs.
Questions About ISOLATION and QUARANTINE
Isolation is used to separate people infected with COVID-19 from those who are not infected. People who are in isolation must stay home until it’s safe for them to be around others.
If you test positive for COVID-19, you will be placed under a Commissioner’s Order of Mandatory Isolation. You should stay home and avoid contact with others at all times, including members of your own household. You must remain in isolation for at least 10 days and have a temperature of under 100 degrees for three days in a row before being released from isolation. The isolation period is typically 10 days from symptom onset (or from the date of the positive test if you are asymptomatic).
Quarantine is used to keep someone who might have been exposed to COVID-19 away from others. Quarantine helps prevent the spread of disease that can occur before a person knows they are sick or if they are infected with the virus but have no symptoms. Fully vaccinated people who have been exposed do NOT have to quarantine unless they have symptoms. Please see this flowchart for details.
The Health Department conducts an investigation of each individual with a positive COVID-19 diagnostic test and identifies others who may have been exposed to them. If you are identified as a contact, a NYS Contact Tracer will contact you and you will be placed under a Commissioner's Order of Mandatory Quarantine. Your quarantine can end after ten days without testing as long as you have remained symptom-free, however, you must continue monitoring yourself for symptoms through day 14. If you do develop any symptoms, you must immediately self-isolate and contact the Health Department at 315.435.3236.
OCHD conducts an investigation of each individual with a positive COVID-19 diagnostic test and identifies others who may have been exposed to them. If you are identified as a contact to a positive case, a Contact Tracer will contact you and you will be placed under an order of mandatory quarantine unless you are fully vaccinated and have no symptoms of COVID-19.
While asymptomatic fully-vaccinated persons are not required to quarantine, they should get tested 3-5 days after their exposure and wear a mask indoors in public for 14 days following exposure or until their test result is negative. Please see this flowchart for details.
Quarantine can end after ten days without testing as long as you have remained symptom-free, however, you must continue monitoring yourself for symptoms through day 14. If you do develop any symptoms, you must immediately self-isolate and contact the Health Department at 315.435.3236.
Q: I am in quarantine while waiting for the results of my test, and my employer needs documentation. Where can I find this?
A copy of the emergency order to quarantine for individuals waiting for test results can be found here.
A Contact Tracer will describe services available during the monitoring process. When possible, find a friend or family member to make a contact-free delivery of necessities to your home. The Nutrition Assistance Hotline is a resource available and can be reached at 315.218.1987.
In some situations, a COVID-positive individual in mandatory isolation will be released before some of their contacts in quarantine. COVID cases are required to remain isolated for a minimum of 10 days from the date their symptoms started (or from the date of a positive test if asymptomatic).
Those identified as close contacts must quarantine for 10 days from the date of exposure to the COVID case, which could vary from contact to contact based on their last date of exposure.
You should consult with your employer regarding your role at your place of employment. In some situations, an individual in quarantine and not experiencing symptoms may report to work as long as they quarantine themselves at home when not working, and follow infection control procedures of your workplace. For more information contact the Health Department at 315.435.3236.
Information about Paid Family Leave for COVID-19 can be found here.
Q: I am in quarantine because I was a contact of a positive case, but I got tested and it was negative. Can I be released from quarantine?
You must remain in quarantine for the full duration listed on your initial quarantine order in case symptoms develop. In New York State, mandatory quarantine for individuals exposed to COVID-19 can end after 10 days without testing. After stopping quarantine, you should:
- Watch for symptoms until 14 days after exposure.
- If you have symptoms, immediately self-isolate and contact the Health Department at 315.435.3236.
- Wear a mask, stay at least 6 feet from others, wash your hands, avoid crowds, and take other steps to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
Individuals who have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19 do not need to quarantine as long as they have remained asymptomatic since their last COVID-19 exposure.
Q: I am in precautionary quarantine recommended by my doctor or employer. Can I get documents from OCHD to access paid leave from work?
OCHD is not issuing orders of mandatory quarantine for individuals not being tracked by our investigators. If your primary care provider placed you into quarantine, they are responsible for providing the excuse to be out of work.
Q: I am in isolation or quarantine and I haven’t been in contact with anyone from OCHD for several days. Is someone going to check in with me?
If you have the ability to access text messaging, you will be signed up for an automated symptom monitoring system through New York State. If you have questions or concerns regarding your symptoms please call your primary care provider.
Q: I am released from quarantine, but my employer needs documentation for me to return to work. What can I do?
The original quarantine order lists the dates of your quarantine period. Please provide this to your employer as documentation to return to work. There is no separate release paperwork.
Questions About PREVENTION MEASURES
The CDC recommends that everyone wear a mask in indoor public settings in areas of high transmission which includes Onondaga County. By Onondaga County Executive Order, face coverings must be worn by:
all daycare staff while working at a daycare facility in Onondaga County; all persons in enclosed buildings at the New York State Fairgrounds; and all staff and visitors entering a senior care residential or long-term care facility. On August 24, 2021, New York State Governor Kathy Hochul announced a universal mask requirement in all schools.
You can purchase them online or you can make your own masks. Guidelines by the CDC for making your own mask can be found here.
Questions About BUSINESSES or FACILITIES
You can find current information on essential businesses here.
Q: I am an employer or property manager and I have an employee or tenant who tested positive. What information do I have to provide to my other staff or residents?
You may issue a general statement that someone at the facility has tested positive and remind everyone to practice personal protection measures and advise them to self-monitor for symptoms. You may not identify the positive individual. If you or someone at the facility is identified as an exposed contact of a case during the investigation process, OCHD will reach out to you directly and provide further guidance.
If you are concerned about a local entity not following guidelines, you may file a complaint using this complaint form.
Questions About EVENTS or GATHERINGS
We congratulate all the graduates and their families and wish everyone the best for safe, healthy, and happy graduation ceremonies. Decisions around hosting safe and socially distanced graduation ceremonies will remain at the discretion of local school boards and superintendents. Districts and schools can choose to honor graduating students in a way that prioritizes the health and safety of participants and complies with state and local social distancing orders and guidelines. The Onondaga County Health Department understands the importance of graduation ceremonies in the lives of our students and families and directs you to the New York State guidance for public and nonpublic schools to consider when navigating these concerns at the local level.
Questions From HEALTHCARE WORKERS
Please contact 315.435.2525 for information about testing and PPE.
Q: Where can I find information on requirements for Nursing Homes and Adult Care Facilities regarding COVID-19 such as resident and staff testing, Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), isolation and quarantine procedures, complaints about non-compliance, etc.?
The New York State Department of Health, Nursing Home and ICF/MR Surveillance is responsible for investigating complaints and incidents for nursing homes in New York State that are related to a State and/or Federal regulatory violation. A complaint against a nursing home should be submitted in writing by the complainant. There are two ways to submit a complaint:
- The Nursing Home Complaint Form
- Nursing Home Complaint Hotline (1-888-201-4563)
Questions About Reporting COMPLAINTS
Q: I believe is not in compliance with current orders. Where can I find more information or file a complaint?
To file a complaint through the Attorney General Labor Bureau, visit this page to view a list of topics, or contact 212.416.8700. To report a local entity not following guidelines, you may file a complaint using the Onondaga County COVID-19 'New York on PAUSE' Enforcement Task Force Violation Complaint Form.