Coronoavirus Disease 19 FAQs

Coronavirus illustration

Moffitt Cancer Center is committed to the health and safety of our patients, their families and our team members. We are basing our protocols on guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Moffitt is the safest place for cancer patients to receive the best care.

Please see the frequently asked questions below. We will update this with any new developments. Patients with questions or concerns should contact your health care team via the Patient Portal or by calling 1-888-663-3488.

Visitor Policy

For the safety of our patients, Moffitt Cancer Center will continue to enforce a limited visitor policy and universal masking in our patient care facilities. Hospitals like Moffitt are held to higher standards to protect those who may be more vulnerable to COVID-19. 

Visitor Policy. As of Aug. 30, 2021, Moffitt is updating our visitor policy as follows:

Outpatient appointments — One healthy adult visitor is allowed, including in infusion bays.

Inpatients — One constant healthy adult visitor is allowed (visitors may not change throughout the day) and may stay overnight in the hospital. Inpatient visitors must check in at the Red Valet information desk.

Please note, children are not allowed on campus.

ADDITIONAL DETAILS

Surgeries

  • Surgical patients may have one constant healthy adult visitor.
  • The visitor may accompany the patient to their inpatient room (if applicable).

Endoscopies

  • Endoscopy patients may have one constant healthy adult visitor with them on the day of the procedure. 
  • The visitor may accompany the patient to their inpatient room (if applicable).

Urgent Care

  • One constant healthy adult visitor may remain with the patient.

BMT Patients in the Hospital

  • BMT inpatients may have one designated healthy adult caregiver that must stay with the patient for the entire time of their hospitalization.

End-of-Life Care and Support

  • Patients may have two caregivers for comfort when end of life is imminent.

Visitors must:

  • Be 18 or older (children are not allowed on campus).
  • Be screened for COVID-19 symptoms prior to entry.
  • Remain in patient rooms or with the patient throughout the appointment unless otherwise directed by staff.
  • Remain fully masked at all times, regardless of vaccination status. Failure to wear a mask may result in the visitor being asked to leave or being escorted from campus.
  • Adhere to social distancing guidelines.

Thank you for your understanding as we take these necessary steps to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Stay Connected with Loved Ones. When possible, we encourage you to use your smartphones to stay in touch with your family and loved ones during your visit. Moffitt can also set up Zoom video conferencing for loved ones to join appointments virtually. Click here to see more details on how to stay connected with loved ones during your time at Moffitt.

Self-Parking for Patients. Moffitt has reserved a limited number of spaces for patients to self-park. Please request this with the valet upon arrival.

Hotel Day Rates for Caregivers. The following hotels are offering day rates for family members and caregivers waiting for patients receiving outpatient treatment at Moffitt.

Wingate by Wyndham Tampa/At USF
3751 E. Fowler Ave.
813-867-2878

Rate: $40 + tax
Hours: 8 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Method of Payment: Credit card only
Included: Wi-Fi and parking
Reservations: Walk-ins welcome or call the hotel

Home2 Suites by Hilton Tampa USF
11606 N. McKinley Drive
813-750-8844

Rate: $59 + tax
Hours: 7 a.m. – 7 p.m.
Method of Payment: Credit card or cash
Included: Wi-Fi, parking, breakfast during breakfast hours, pool
Reservations: Walk-ins welcome or call the hotel

Residence Inn Tampa at USF/Medical Center
13420 N. Telecom Parkway
813-972-4400

Rate: $59 + tax
Hours: 10 a.m. – 4 p.m.
Method of Payment: Credit card only
Included: Wi-Fi and parking
Reservations: Walk-ins welcome or call the hotel

Publix Pharmacy at Moffitt

The Publix pharmacies at the Magnolia and McKinley campuses are offering curbside service to assist patients and caregivers with medication pickup. Most patients also have the option to transfer their prescriptions to other Publix pharmacy locations in your communities. Additionally, many insurance companies are allowing patients to obtain several months’ worth of prescriptions during this time. For your safety, we encourage you to take advantage of this option for maintenance medications to reduce unnecessary travel. 

Patients are encouraged to download the Publix Pharmacy app and prepay for your orders to expedite the process. For those picking up prescriptions from a Publix Pharmacy at Moffitt, please call to ensure your prescriptions are ready before traveling to the cancer center. You can also check the status using the Publix Pharmacy app. Once you arrive at the valet, please call the appropriate Publix pharmacy and a team member will bring the medications out to your vehicle.  

  • Publix Pharmacy at the Moffitt Magnolia Campus (USF) – 813-745-8484
  • Publix Pharmacy at the McKinley Outpatient Center – 813-978-1694
Screening for Patients, Visitors

We have enhanced our protocols and are screening all patients and caregivers for COVID-19 symptoms at the entrances of Moffitt’s patient care buildings.

Masks must be worn at all times on campus regardless of vaccination status, per Moffitt policy. Failure to wear a mask may result in the visitor being asked to leave or being escorted from campus. Wearing a mask is for everyone’s safety, including other patients and our staff. Please understand the important measures we are taking to keep you, your family and our team members safe. We are limiting patient entry points to the main entrances of:

  • Red and Blue Valet at the Moffitt Cancer Center hospital on USF’s campus
  • Gold Valet at the Muriel Rothman Clinic Building on USF’s campus
  • Moffitt Research Center on USF’s campus
  • Schulze Family Foundation Outpatient Center at the McKinley campus
  • Moffitt Cancer Center at International Plaza

Please note, the Gold and Blue valet parking entrances will close at 7 p.m. After 7 p.m., please enter through the Red Valet hospital entrance instead.

If you have an upcoming appointment and are experiencing any of the following symptoms, please call the Patient Care Hotline at 813-745-8000 before coming to Moffitt:

  • Fever or chills
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
  • Fatigue
  • Muscle or body aches
  • Headache
  • New loss of taste or smell
  • Sore throat
  • Congestion or runny nose
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Diarrhea

 

What if I Want to Postpone my Appointment?

What if I Want to Postpone my Appointment?

Contact your health care team via the Patient Portal to determine if you are eligible for virtual visits and other options.

Learn more: Patient Appointments FAQ

Social Distancing

Moffitt is taking additional precautions to ensure the health and safety of our patients by limiting exposure as much as possible. Effective Aug. 4, 2021, patient events at Moffitt will be held virtually or postponed through Sept. 30. This includes support groups, patient education, orientation and other patient and family related events. Moffitt is not holding events that are open to the public or include external guests to limit traffic on our campuses.   

Some patient support groups are hosting virtual meetings. Click here for the latest updates on support groups

What are Coronaviruses?

Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that may cause illness in animals or humans.  In humans, several coronaviruses are known to cause respiratory infections ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases such as Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS). The most recently discovered coronavirus causes coronavirus disease COVID-19.

What is COVID-19?

COVID-19 is the infectious disease caused by the most recently discovered coronavirus. This new virus and disease were unknown before the outbreak began in Wuhan, China, in December 2019.

What are the symptoms of COVID-19?

The most common symptoms of COVID-19 are fever, tiredness and a dry cough. Some may have aches and pains, nasal congestion, runny nose, sore throat or diarrhea. These symptoms are usually mild and begin gradually. Some people become infected but don’t develop any symptoms and don’t feel unwell. Most people (about 80%) recover from the disease without needing special treatment. Around 1 out of every 6 people who gets COVID-19 becomes seriously ill and experiences difficulty breathing. Getting a COVID-19 vaccine may reduce the chance of infection and serious illness.

Who can get COVID-19?

People of all ages can be infected by COVID-19. However, older people and those with pre-existing medical conditions including blood pressure, asthma, diabetes and heart disease appear to be more vulnerable to this virus. Individuals who have not received the COVID-19 vaccine are at higher risk of developing serious illness from COVID-19. 

 
   
 
  
      
   
   
 
I Have Cancer. Am I at Increased Risk?

All individuals with weakened immune systems might be at higher risk for complications from COVID-19. Here's what cancer patients need to know:

  • Get the COVID-19 vaccine. COVID-19 vaccines are generally safe for most cancer patients. Although some cancer treatments may alter the effectiveness of the vaccine, vaccination is an important preventive measure. Please speak with your provider to understand if you should receive the vaccine.
  • Take preventive measures. COVID-19 is one of many coronaviruses out there that are common and cause mild illnesses that many would call the common cold. To help prevent disease, wash your hands frequently, cover your cough and sneezes, stay home when you’re not feeling well, and call your health care provider when you have concerns about your health.
  • Get the flu shot. It’s flu season, and patients with cancer need to take this into account. Certain therapies such as targeted drugs, steroids and immunosuppressive therapies can reduce immunity. People with cancer who develop the flu may need to delay chemotherapy, radiation or surgery.
  • Only testing can determine if you have COVID-19. The main symptoms are fever, cough, shortness of breath and a runny nose. Because these symptoms are similar to other common illnesses, health care professionals might misdiagnose or patients might not report symptoms. The only way to tell if a patient has COVID-19 is through CDC testing.
  • Cancer drugs manufactured overseas are OK. It’s understandable that patients with cancer may have concerns about treatments that come through China. At this time, pharmaceutical companies and manufacturers do not expect the spread of COVID-19 to impact their ability to produce drugs or affect supplies. The CDC says there is no evidence supporting the transmission of the disease through imported goods.
Should I Cancel my Treatment or Follow-up Appointments at Moffitt?

If you have a scheduled appointment at Moffitt and have tested positive for COVID-19 in the community or are experiencing respiratory symptoms, please call the Patient Care Hotline at 813-745-8000 before your upcoming appointment so we can plan appropriately. You’ll receive guidance and learn about eligibility for virtual visits. This will help us keep you safe, as well as the team members caring for you.

What Should I do if I Have Symptoms? What About a Family Member?

If you develop a high fever, deep dry cough, fatigue and shortness of breath, please stay home and call your primary care provider and clinic at Moffitt for guidance. If you feel ill enough to go to the emergency room, call ahead and let them know you have respiratory symptoms so they can provide guidelines and protect you when you arrive. If you would like to take a COVID-19 test, contact your health care provider or check with your local and state health departments on testing sites. Prescriptions are not required at all facilities, but you may need to pre-register or make an appointment.

What if a family member develops symptoms?

If someone in your household is sick, keep your distance. Wear gloves while caring for your sick family member and have them sleep in a different room if possible. Wipe down surfaces with bleach wipes and wash your hands often. Call your Moffitt clinic to inform them of the situation. To protect our patients, do not bring a sick family member to your appointment at Moffitt.

How Does the Virus Spread? Is it Treatable?

People can catch COVID-19 from others who have the virus. The disease can spread from person to person through small droplets from the nose or mouth, which are spread when a person with COVID-19 coughs or exhales. These droplets land on objects and surfaces around the person. Other people then catch COVID-19 by touching these objects or surfaces, then touching their eyes, nose or mouth. People can also catch COVID-19 if they breathe in droplets from a person with COVID-19 who coughs out or exhales droplets. This is why it is important to stay more than 3 feet from a person who is sick.

Is there a vaccine for COVID-19?

Yes, these are the vaccines authorized and recommended in the United States to prevent COVID-19:

Is there treatment?

The FDA has approved one drug, remdesivir, to treat COVID-19. Treatments should be prescribed by your health care provider.

How Can I Protect Myself? How is Moffitt Protecting Patients, Families and Visitors?
  • Avoid contact with anyone showing symptoms of respiratory illness
  • Cover your mouth when you cough or sneeze
  • Avoid touching your nose, eyes or mouth with unwashed hands
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects
  • Stay home when sick

How is Moffitt Protecting Patients, Families and Visitors?

  • Moffitt is monitoring updates from the CDC and Florida Department of Health.
  • As we monitor the pandemic, we are continually adjusting our visitor policy to best protect our patients and staff. Please click here for the latest updates
  • We are screening all patients and caregivers for COVID-19 symptoms at the entrances of Moffitt’s patient care buildings. Masks will be provided to patients and visitors and must be worn at all times while on campus regardless of vaccination status.
  • Please adhere to all social distancing guidelines in place at the cancer center. If waiting rooms are congested, you may be redirected to other waiting areas.
  • Moffitt is testing all patients for COVID-19 ahead of procedures to ensure everyone’s safety.
  • Moffitt follows CDC guidelines for all cleaning and disinfection procedures. This includes frequent disinfection of high touch surfaces and restrooms with wipes that are effective against coronavirus. We are conducting deep cleanings of the hospital every evening.
  • The valet staff is disinfecting steering wheels and using hand sanitizer before and after parking each car. Keys are being disinfected at valet stands.
  • Wheelchairs are being disinfected between each use, and wipes are available in valet areas for this purpose.
  • Magnolias Salon is open with limited menu options consisting of basic services, head-shaves, wig consults, in-patient shampoos and retail therapy items. Visitation is restricted to one guest at a time, and high touch surface disinfection is performed after each service. Call Magnolias Salon at 813-745-7299 for questions and operational changes.
  • Effective Aug. 4, 2021, patient events at Moffitt will be held virtually or postponed through Sept. 30. This includes support groups, patient education, orientation and other patient and family related events. Moffitt is not holding events that are open to the public or include external guests to limit traffic on our campuses.
  • The cafeteria at the hospital on USF’s campus will have limited seating to better accommodate social distancing. Moffitt is encouraging team members to have meals in staff break areas to allow patients and visitors to use the cafeteria.
  • Moffitt is also encouraging virtual meetings when possible.

What preparations has Moffitt made to handle a cancer patient with COVID-19?

Cancer patients have unique needs, and we are confident Moffitt is the safest place for patients to come if complications arise from their disease. Moffitt is working closely with state and federal agencies and taking all COVID-19 precautions from the CDC. Our clinical staff is reviewing strict protocols to manage patients with COVID-19 from the time they enter the cancer center to isolation and testing.

Should I be Worried about Upcoming Travel?

Fully vaccinated travelers are less likely to get and spread COVID-19. Please see the latest CDC travel health notices here and more frequently asked questions about travel.

Has Moffitt Canceled Events? What Else is Canceled?

Effective Aug. 4, 2021, patient events at Moffitt will be held virtually or postponed through Sept. 30. This includes support groups, patient education, orientation and other patient and family related events. Moffitt is not holding events that are open to the public or include external guests to limit traffic on our campuses.

Does this include patient and caregiver supports groups?

Yes. Patient support groups will not be held in person, but certain groups will host virtual meetings by phone or video instead. Click here for a list of support groups impacted by these changes. If you have questions, please check with the event organizer. To watch our patient and family orientation videos online, click here. Moffitt is proceeding with all meetings and gatherings that are essential to patient care and hospital operations.

Should Cancer Patients and Survivors Avoid Public Transportation and Large Events?

Patients in active treatment should avoid public transportation when possible. If you need to use public transportation, do what you can to protect yourself. Sit in the back or other areas with less exposure, and stay away from others who exhibit respiratory symptoms. When it comes to events, use caution in public places and limit close interactions. Stay at home when possible.

What is the Cost of a COVID-19 Test?
For patients without insurance, the cost of the COVID-19 lab test is $77 at Moffitt Cancer Center.
Should cancer patients receive the COVID-19 vaccine?

The COVID-19 vaccines are among the most effective and safest vaccines ever developed. The FDA has granted full approval of the Comirnaty Pfizer-BioNTech two-dose vaccine for people 16 and older. Both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are shown to be approximately 95% effective. It is safe for most patients to receive the vaccine. However, for some patients in active treatment that causes immunosuppression, the vaccine may not be effective. See the COVID-19 Vaccine page for more details.

Moffitt is conducting research into the effectiveness and durability of the vaccine in cancer patients. If you have questions about the vaccine and how it fits within your treatment plan, please contact your care team through the message center within the patient portal by visiting My.Moffitt.org. Your care team will respond to your message after reviewing your medical history. For patient portal assistance, please call 813-745-8000.

It is also important not to delay any treatment for cancer in order to receive the COVID-19 vaccine.

If you are a cancer survivor, it should be safe for you to receive the vaccine. If you have concerns, you should talk to your oncologist or primary care physician.

Will Moffitt offer a third shot of the COVID-19 vaccine?

Yes. The FDA and CDC have authorized a third dose of the mRNA COVID-19 vaccines — Pfizer and Moderna — for immunocompromised individuals. Moffitt will offer the shot to eligible patients and staff. Check here for the latest updates.

Starting Aug. 24, we will hold vaccination clinics at two locations:

8:30 a.m.-4 p.m. Monday-Friday, Stabile Research Building atrium
7:30 a.m.-3 p.m. Saturday, Moffitt Clinic Building Blood Draw

8:30 a.m.-4 p.m. Monday-Friday, *Room 2201 on the second floor (formerly Lori’s Gifts) next to Rehab Services & PAT
*Please check in first with Central Registration on the first floor

A third dose of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine is recommended for people who are moderately or severely immunocompromised. This includes:

  • Patients who are currently receiving medications to actively treat a cancer or were given those treatments in the past 12 months.
  • Patients currently undergoing radiation therapy or who had undergone radiation treatments in the past 12 months.
  • Patients with severe primary immunodeficiency syndromes such as DiGeorge and Wiskott-Aldrich.
  • Patients who are actively being treated with high dose corticosteroids equivalent to at least 20 milligrams of prednisone daily.
  • Patients who are actively being treated with Tumor Necrosis Factor (TNF) blockers used for autoimmune conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis, psoriatic arthritis, ulcerative colitis, Crohn’s disease and others. These drugs include Humira, Cimzia, Enbrel, Simponi, Remicade and their biosimilars.
  • Patients who have undergone solid organ transplants and who are on immunosuppressive medications.
  • Blood and marrow transplant patients and those who have undergone CAR T-cell therapy should discuss with their treating physician whether the timing is right for them to receive a third dose.
  • Patients being treated for malignant hematology conditions should also discuss with their treating physician whether the timing is right for a third dose.

Additional criteria:

  • You must bring proof of receiving the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine to be eligible for a third dose of the same kind.
  • For the Johnson & Johnson vaccine: The FDA and CDC say a booster will likely be needed eight months after vaccination. If you received this vaccine, be prepared to return to your original vaccination site or another community site.

Scheduling your third dose:

To check your eligibility, please send a message to your health care team through the MyMoffitt Patient Portal or call 813-745-8000 to have a message relayed to your provider. Please bring your vaccine card to be signed. You will also receive a printed confirmation of your third dose.

Will Moffitt offer a booster dose of the COVID-19 vaccine?

Yes, now that the FDA and CDC have authorized a Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 booster, Moffitt will offer the shot to eligible patients. Cancer patients 18 and older who received the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine at least six months ago are eligible for the booster. Moffitt is also planning to offer Moderna boosters as soon as they are approved by the FDA and CDC.

Scheduling Your Appointment
Call 813-745-8000 to schedule your booster shot. You may schedule your appointment when you are within two weeks of the six-month mark of receiving your second dose. Appointments are available at Moffitt Cancer Center on USF’s campus and the Richard M. Schulze Family Foundation Outpatient Center at the McKinley campus.

Additional Criteria

  • Please bring your vaccine card to be signed. You will also receive a printed confirmation of your booster dose.
  • If you were not previously vaccinated at Moffitt, you must provide documentation that you received the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine. Mixing brands is not allowed. If you do not bring proof, we will not be able to administer the vaccine.

Vaccination Clinics

8:30 a.m.-4 p.m. Monday-Friday, Stabile Research Building atrium
7:30 a.m.-3 p.m. Saturday, Moffitt Clinic Building Blood Draw

8:30 a.m.-4 p.m. Monday-Friday, *Room 2201 on the second floor (formerly Lori’s Gifts) next to Rehab Services & PAT
*Please check in first with Central Registration on the first floor

What’s the difference between a third dose and a booster shot?

Immunocompromised individuals need a third dose to complete their initial vaccine regimen because they likely did not mount the same immune response that most other people experienced with the two-dose regimen. The CDC recommends that people with moderately to severely compromised immune systems receive an additional dose of a mRNA COVID-19 vaccine at least 28 days after a second dose of Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna.

Boosters, on the other hand, help to defend against waning immunity over time. All other cancer patients and survivors, 18 and older, who were not included in the immunocompromised status are eligible for a booster six months after their second dose. Pfizer-BioNTech is the only vaccine approved at this time for a booster.