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Hillsborough County DOH
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COVID-19 updates in your area
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Q: Will the Mpox virus grow into a global pandemic similar to COVID-19?

A: The Mpox virus is very different from COVID-19. Experts have much more knowledge about this virus and there is already a limited availability of vaccines. It is not highly contagious, and experts do not anticipate it to grow into a global pandemic.

Q: With the corona virus changing at such a rapid pace, will yearly boosters be required for best protection similar to the Influenza vaccine?

A: Most people nowadays have partial protection against the corona virus. However, we all live amongst vulnerable people in our communities. Immunity through vaccination will protect you best from severe disease. With new variants emerging, the vaccine will have to be modified to respond to the newest variants.

Q: Should children be tested for COVID-19 antibodies before receiving the vaccine?

A: Having antibodies only provides partial immunity. The combination of natural immunity and vaccination will provide best immunity against COVID-19. Experts suggest that the risk of long-covid for children decreases significantly if they get vaccinated.

Q: How accurate are most affordable at-home tests?

A: If an at-home COVID-19 test shows a positive result it suggests that you are contagious to other people. Generally speaking, if you test positive, you have the virus. Tests are continuously getting better and false positives are extremely rare. If you are experiencing symptoms, even mild symptoms, it is advised to take multiple tests. The first five days of a COVID infection are  crucial. The most contagious period is from the onsetting of symptoms until day eight. A PCR test can show positive test results for up to 70 days.

Q: Can a physician request to see proof of vaccination?

A: Requesting does not violate HIPAA compliance. The patient can always say "No". However, it is an important piece of medical history. 

Q: What is the current COVID-19 vaccine requirement for physicians and their staff in small private practices?

A: The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) vaccine mandate for healthcare workers in certain “Covered Entities” (including hospitals and other facilities receiving Medicare/Medicaid) was upheld at the federal level earlier this year.  This rule establishes requirements regarding COVID-19 vaccine immunization of staff among Medicare- and Medicaid-certified providers and suppliers. However, it does not cover workers in physicians’ offices.  And because OSHA’s Emergency Temporary Standard for Healthcare Employers was stayed by the US Supreme Court, there is no requirement that applies to all employers with 100 or more employees.  Moreover, Florida law prohibits all private employers in Florida from mandating COVID-19 vaccinations unless exemptions are permitted based on one of 5 factors:

  • Medical reasons;
  • Religious reasons;
  • COVID immunity;
  • Periodic testing as an alternative to vaccination; or
  • Use of employer-provided PPE as an alternative to vaccination.

This means that a physician practice may mandate the vaccine as long as an exemption process is created to address the 5 categories of exemptions.

Q: Can a physician's office require patients and staff to wear masks?

A: Except in certain circumstances (for example, air travel), the CDC mask guidelines constitute recommendations as opposed to enforceable requirements. The CDC’s most recent recommendations for community settings base mask requirements on community levels, and the website includes a search function to determine whether a county has high, medium or low levels at a given time. However, according to the information provided by the American Hospital Association, “hospitals and other health care settings are not subject to these masking recommendations, meaning regardless of a community’s status under the new metrics, local health care settings should continue to require visitors to wear masks indoors.”