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

Moffitt has removed visitor restrictions on all campuses. Children may accompany patients and families.

For BMT, two visitors per day are allowed but no children younger than 12.

Effective Jan. 16, masks will be required by all Moffitt team members and staff in patient care and public areas. For patients and visitors, masks are strongly encouraged — not required — at this time. Masks are still required by patients, visitors and team members in:

  • BMT-CI inpatient and clinic rooms
  • Malignant Hematology inpatient and clinic rooms

Masks are available at all entrances, information desks and at registration for anyone who prefers to wear one.

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. 

  • Please ask valet for self-park options so you can park your car.
  • Masks must be worn at all times on campus regardless of vaccination status.
  • When you arrive at Moffitt, let screeners know that you are experiencing symptoms and are an Express Patient. We must know if you are experiencing symptoms so we can provide the best care for you while keeping you safe, as well as the team members caring for you.
  • When you check in for appointments and procedures, please tell staff that you are an Express Patient.
  • Avoid public areas such as waiting rooms and the cafeteria, and adhere to social distancing guidelines.
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.

Masks, Screening for Patients, Visitors

As new cases and the case positivity rate of COVID-19 continue to rise in the Tampa Bay area and across Florida, Moffitt is updating our mask policy. Effective Jan. 16, masks will be required by all Moffitt team members and staff in patient care and public areas. For patients and visitors, masks are strongly encouraged — not required — at this time.

Masks are required by patients, visitors and team members in:

  • BMT-CI inpatient and clinic rooms
  • Malignant Hematology inpatient and clinic rooms

Masks are available at all entrances, information desks and at registration for anyone who prefers to wear one.

For Patients and Visitors with COVID Symptoms or Positive Test: Moffitt does not require patients, visitors or family members to complete a health screening upon entry to a Moffitt facility. For the safety of all our patients — visitors and family members should visit a Moffitt campus only if they are well and not experiencing symptoms consistent with COVID-19.  For patients who are COVID-19 positive or experiencing symptoms consistent with COVID-19, please call ahead to speak to your care team and tell the registration desk when you arrive. Wear a mask at all times when in a Moffitt facility.

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

For anyone who has had close contact or a known exposure to someone with COVID-19 in the past 10 days, you should wear a face mask at all times during the visit.

We are limiting patient entry points to the main entrances of:

  • Red and Blue Valet at the Moffitt Cancer Center hospital on the Magnolia campus
  • Gold Valet at the Muriel Rothman Clinic Building on the Magnolia campus
  • Moffitt Research Center on the Magnolia 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.

Are children allowed at Moffitt?

Yes, children may accompany patients and families. For BMT, children younger than 12 are not allowed.

Should cancer patients receive the COVID-19 vaccine?

The COVID-19 vaccines are among the most effective and safest vaccines ever developed. Both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are shown to be approximately 95% effective. Although the original authorizations were for a two-dose regimen, the CDC has expanded that to three doses for patients who are moderately to severely immunocompromised. In addition, the CDC also recommends a booster dose six months after the last dose of vaccine. 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. Talk to your oncologist or primary care physician.

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.

How can Moffitt patients get an updated COVID booster?

The Centers for Disease Control has approved the use of updated COVID-19 boosters for anyone 12 and older (Pfizer) and 18 and older (Moderna) who are at least two months out from their last COVID-19 vaccination shot. The updated bivalent vaccines are designed to offer better protection against the omicron BA.4 and BA.5 variants. It is considered safe to receive the updated COVID-19 booster and flu shot at the same time.

How to get the updated COVID-19 booster: Visit vaccines.gov to find a location near you.

The COVID-19 vaccines are among the most effective and safest vaccines ever developed. Both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are shown to be approximately 95% effective. Although the original authorizations were for a two-dose regimen, the CDC has expanded that to three doses for patients who are moderately to severely immunocompromised. In addition, the CDC also recommends an updated booster dose at least two months after the last dose of vaccine. It is safe for most patients to receive the vaccine. It is considered safe to receive the flu vaccine at the same time as a COVID-19 third dose or booster dose. However, for some patients in active treatment that causes immunosuppression, the vaccine may not be effective. Talk to your oncologist or primary care physician.

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 monoclonal antibodies to help prevent COVID-19?

The FDA has issued emergency use authorization for AstraZeneca’s Evusheld monoclonal antibody to help prevent COVID-19 in certain adults and pediatric cases. The drug is authorized for people who are not infected with the COVID virus and who have not recently been exposed to those who are infected. Individuals must have a moderately to severely compromised immune system due to a medical condition or due to taking immunosuppressive medications or treatments and may not mount an adequate immune response to the COVID vaccine. Individuals who are not able to be fully vaccinated due to a history of severe adverse reactions to a COVID vaccine or components are also eligible.

One dose of Evusheld, given as two consecutive injections, may be effective for pre-exposure prevention for six months. Moffitt has received a limited supply of the drug, and our physicians will determine which patients should receive it based on the treatments that patients are receiving.

Is my provider vaccinated?

Moffitt Cancer Center is compliant with all regulatory requirements for health care worker vaccinations, not just for COVID but for all vaccines. Just as our patient data is protected health information that we must keep private, our team member health data is also private. Hospitals like Moffitt are held to higher standards to protect everyone from COVID-19. Regardless of vaccination status, universal masking is required for all team members, patients and families, which provides the best level of protection.

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

Please adhere to social distancing guidelines in place throughout all Moffitt locations. Hospitals like Moffitt are held to higher standards to protect those who may be more vulnerable to COVID-19. 

Why is Moffitt no longer checking temperature as part of the screening process?

After two years of responding to the pandemic, most experts have concluded that the value of performing temperature checks is limited for several reasons:

  • Studies have found that up to 2/3 of infected people have no symptoms, so checking their temperature won’t identify them.
  • Normal body temperature varies from person to person, making it difficult to determine the threshold for fever in all individuals.
  • Fever can be masked by taking fever-reducing medication.
  • Accuracy of the thermometers depends on exact use and calibration. The measurement can also be affected by outside influences such as humidity and sweat on skin.
  • Temperature checks can give a false sense of reassurance that a person is safe, free from infection and free from being around anyone that is infectious.
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. Patients with cancer need to take extra precautions during flu season. 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 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.
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. People can 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 6 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 several drugs to treat COVID-19. Approved treatments include anti-viral medications, such as Remdesivir, Paxlovid and Molnupiravir. Paxlovid and Molnupiravir are newly approved pills that will soon be available in Florida. There are also monoclonal antibody treatments, such as Regen-CoV2 and Sotrovimab, although availability of these medications is limited. 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.
  • 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?

Patient events at Moffitt are being held in person on campus. This includes support groups, patient education, orientation and other patient and family related events.

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.