Frequently asked questions

Does Mount Nittany Health have a plan for managing a pandemic?


Yes. Mount Nittany Health has a plan to manage a pandemic like COVID-19 . We have practiced this plan and are now executing on it to manage our resources effectively. This includes initiating a COVID-19 Preparedness and Response Team (CPRT), which meets regularly to plan on how we can meet the needs of our patients today while planning how to manage the potential of a dramatic increase of patient volumes in the future. We are also connecting with local, state and national partners, as well as our healthcare colleagues across the region and state. Decisions are made to protect our patients and staff while also doing our part to help contain rapidly progressing pandemic by:​

  • Strictly adhering to infection & prevention control policie
  • Daily monitoring of elective/non-essential services, with reductions made as needed. Depending on future trends, other services may also be adjusted as the health system balances care for COVID hospitalized patients and those needing
  • Limiting the number of people in our facility through temporary visitor restrictions
  • Implementing screenings and temperature checks for anyone who enters Mount Nittany Health’s facilities
  • Extending masking requirements to patients and visitors at all Mount Nittany Health facilities
  • Continuing the education of employees and staff




What steps is Mount Nittany Health taking related to COVID-19?


The health and well-being of our staff, patients and visitors is our top priority. Mount Nittany Health is working closely with public health officials and other community health agencies to monitor local conditions related to COVID-19 (coronavirus). Staying informed - We are continuously monitoring the outbreak as it evolves through the CDC, Pennsylvania Department of Health, and other expert sources. Extra measures – We have implemented numerous extra measures to ensure everyone’s safety. This includes the following, among others: Special cleaning of all areas several times a day

  • Screening
  • Requiring patients, visitors, employees and providers to mask
  • Using telehealth when possible to provide care
  • New protective barriers between patients and staff in registration areas
  • Scheduling time between patient visits to limit/eliminate people in the waiting rooms and practice social distancing
  • Temporary visitation restrictions
Collaboration - Our team has been working on education and preparedness, included providing weekly system-wide COVID-19 updates to Mount Nittany Health staff, providers and our community, providing two comprehensive grand rounds education sessions attended by hundreds of Mount Nittany Health staff and community organizations, posting current CDC and Department of Health (DOH) information on our website, coordinating with the DOH regarding patient testing and reporting protocols, planning with state and local emergency management agencies, participating with Penn State’s planning task force, providing daily updates at patient safety huddles, and working through treatment and testing decisions with providers around specific patients.




Where can I learn more about the vaccine and the distribution process?


COVID-19 vaccine questions can be directed to the PA Health Hotline at 1.877.724.3258 and up-to-date vaccine information is also available at mountnittany.org/coronavirus.




What are the phases of vaccine distribution?


The COVID-19 vaccine will be distributed to Pennsylvanians in a phased approach. The Pennsylvania Department of Health (DOH), as the state's public health agency, is the lead in terms of moving from one vaccination phase to the next. As information is finalized on additional vaccine allotments and the status of the DOH phased rollout process, we will keep the communities we serve informed. To learn more about the DOH vaccine distribution plan and the phased approach, visit health.pa.gov.




Should I get the COVID-19 vaccine?


The vaccine is another tool that is available to help stop the pandemic. The vaccine will arm your immune system if you acquire the virus, while other measures such as wearing a mask, social distancing and washing hands frequently are still needed to keep from spreading the virus to others.




How many doses of the vaccine do I need?


The Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine, which has received an Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) from the FDA, is a two-dose vaccine. The Moderna COVID-19 vaccine has also received an EUA from the FDA and is a two-dose vaccine. The Johnson & Johnson (Janssen) COVID-19 Vaccine has also received a EAU from the FDA and is a one-dose vaccine. For both the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine and the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine, the first dose of the vaccine starts building protection, but the second dose is needed to get the most protection the vaccine has to offer.




What is RNA and how does the vaccine work?


RNA is a type of nucleic acid that SARS-CoV-2 uses to carry its genetic information. It is a blueprint to produce proteins that form the virus particle. Both of the FDA-approved COVID-19 vaccines contain a small piece of SARS-CoV-2 RNA encased in a lipid particle. When injected into the body, these particles are taken up by immune cells, the viral spike protein is produced, and our immune system produces antibodies and other immune cells that specifically recognize it. This process mirrors exactly what happens when the virus infects our body, but the vaccine cannot cause infection as it does not contain the actual virus. A second booster vaccine makes the immune response even stronger. If we are exposed to the virus, our immune system now has all the tools needed to rapidly clear it.




What is coronavirus (COVID-19)?


There is a new type of Coronavirus (COVID-19) causing an ongoing outbreak of respiratory illness that originated in Wuhan City, Hubei Province, China.

The Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses, typically causing respiratory illness in people. COVID-19 symptoms may range from mild to severe illness and death. Symptoms may appear 2-14 days after exposure and include:

  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
  • Fever
  • Loss of taste or smell
  • Chills
  • Repeated shaking with chills
  • Muscle pain
  • Headache
  • Sore throat

The virus that causes COVID-19 is thought to spread mainly from person-to-person:

  • Between people who are in close contact with one another (within about 6 feet)
  • Through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes.
  • Through contact with contaminated surfaces.

For the most up-to-date information regarding COVID-19 outbreak, including travel restrictions, please visit the following websites:




Who is most at risk for becoming seriously ill?


COVID-19 is a new disease and there is limited information regarding risk factors for severe disease. Based on currently available information and clinical expertise, older adults and people of any age who have serious underlying medical conditions might be at higher risk for severe illness from COVID-19. Based upon available information to date, those at high-risk for severe illness from COVID-19 include:

  • People aged 65 years and older
  • People who live in a nursing home or long-term care facility
  • Other high-risk conditions could include:
  • People with chronic lung disease or moderate to severe asthma
  • People with diabetes
  • People who have serious heart conditions such as heart failure, coronary artery disease, congenital heart disease, cardiomyopathies and pulmonary hypertension
  • People with chronic kidney disease being treated with dialysis
  • People who are immunocompromised including cancer treatment
  • People who live in a nursing home or long-term care facility
  • People of any age with severe obesity
  • People with chronic liver disease, including cirrhosis
  • People who are pregnant should be monitored since they are known to be at risk with severe viral illness, however, to date data on COVID-19 has not shown increased risk




What does "flattening the curve" mean?


"Flattening the curve" is when preventive measures are put into place to slow or stop the number of new cases during an outbreak like COVID-19. Based on experiences from other countries and past epidemics, preventive measures such as social distancing and quarantines help to accomplish this goal.




Does Mount Nittany Health have a COVID test collection site?


Yes, Mount Nittany Health has multiple test collection sites:

  • Mount Nittany Health, in collaboration with Penn State Health, established a test collection site at Mount Nittany Medical Center. This site is only used by primary care patients from either health system who have received an appointment at the collection site by their primary care provider.
  • A test collection site at Mount Nittany Health – Mifflin County. The site is available exclusively for Mount Nittany Physician Group (MNPG) primary care patients.
  • A test collection site at Mount Nittany Health - Boalsburg. The site is available exclusively for MNPG primary care patients.
Mount Nittany Health continues to rigorously follow guidelines from the CDC, including how test samples are collected and the proper wearing of personal protective equipment by staff at this site.




What are symptoms & warning signs of coronavirus?


Reported illnesses have ranged from mild symptoms to severe illness and death for confirmed coronavirus cases. These symptoms include:

  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
  • Fever
  • Loss of taste or smell
  • Chills
  • Repeated shaking with chills
  • Muscle pain
  • Headache
  • Sore throat
The symptoms may appear in as few as two days or as long as 14 days after exposure. If you believe you are exhibiting the symptoms of Coronavirus, call 844.278.4600 or your family doctor immediately to be assessed over the phone. Your doctor will inform you if you should come in to their office or to the hospital for further testing.
  • Upon arrival, please wear a protective mask.
  • If you develop emergency warning signs for COVID-19, get medical attention immediately. Emergency warning signs include:

-Trouble breathing

-Persistent pain or pressure in the chest

-New confusion

-Inability to wake or stay awake

-Bluish lips or face

This list is not all inclusive. Please consult your medical provider for any other symptoms that are severe or concerning.




Do you have visitor restrictions?


Mount Nittany Health is committed to the health, safety and wellbeing of our community. Beginning Monday, March 1, Mount Nittany Health will allow one visitor per patient for inpatients at Mount Nittany Medical Center during visiting hours, 2:00 – 6:00 pm daily. Additionally, a support person/caregiver may accompany patients of our emergency department at Mount Nittany Medical Center, Mount Nittany Physician Group, Mount Nittany Health Surgical Center, CANCER CARE PARTNERSHIP, and outpatient Medical Center locations. The women & children’s services department at the Medical Center will continue its practice of permitting one support person to accompany the patient. For outpatient and surgical procedures, caregivers will be asked to wait in their vehicle but may be with the patient until the start of the procedure and assist with discharge instructions. Please be aware, there may be other select circumstances where caregivers are asked to wait in their vehicles as well. Masking will be required for all visitors and caregivers, as well as the patients they are visiting or accompanying, during the time of the visit. This revision to the visitation policy comes after evaluation and assessment by a multi-disciplinary team with the goal of allowing visitor support of patients, while ensuring the safety of patients and staff. We understand the important role of family and loved ones in the healing process of our patients, which is why we are pleased to be able to modify the existing visitor restrictions that were implemented due to increased COVID-19 activity in our community. It is because of our commitment to the health and safety of our community that we will monitor the situation closely and make adjustments as needed. Within Mount Nittany Health facilities, measures have been taken including special cleaning, masking and screening. As an additional measure, visitors will be provided a colored wristband upon checking in at the front desk of the emergency department or medical center, where a screening will be performed by a member of our staff. Visitors are also asked to stop by the front desk to check out at the end of their visit. If a visitor does not have a mask, one will be provided. Any visitor who does not pass the screening process will be informed of the policy and be asked to wait in their vehicle or return home. Persons under investigation for COVID-19 and positive COVID-19 patients will not be permitted to have visitors. We recognize that interacting with friends and family can be helpful to the healing process; therefore, we are strongly encouraging using alternative means of support like phone calls or video chats on cellphones or other mobile devices. We are sensitive to the separation this restriction creates for our patients and families, but we strongly believe continuing to limit the number of people in our facilities is essential to keeping our patients and staff safe. Questions or concerns from staff related to this policy, including those surrounding special needs, should be addressed with the clinical coordinator or your supervisor. Patients with questions regarding visitation at the Medical Center should call 814.231.7000. For Mount Nittany Physician Group, patients are asked to call their practice or outpatient office.




Are we screening people before they enter Mount Nittany Health facilities?


Mount Nittany Health conducts screenings of patients entering our facilities. This screening process is another measure that Mount Nittany Health is taking to protect our patients, staff and community against the spread of COVID-19. The screening process will include key questions based on recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). In the best interest of patients, visitors and staff during this evolving situation, visitors of hospitalized patients at Mount Nittany Medical Center will no longer be permitted, except for select circumstances. For questions regarding visitation at the Medical Center, please call 814.231.7000. One caregiver may accompany patients of our emergency department, Mount Nittany Physician Group, CANCER CARE PARTNERSHIP and outpatient Medical Center locations, if needed. Depending on the circumstances, the caregiver may be asked to find an alternative place to wait for the patient, such as their vehicle. Approved visitors/caregivers to the emergency department, Mount Nittany Physician Group, CANCER CARE PARTNERSHIP and outpatient Medical Center locations will undergo a screening process and be required to wear a mask for the duration of their stay. If a visitor does not have a mask, one will be provided. Any visitor who does not pass the screening process will be informed of the policy and be asked to wait in their vehicle or return home. Our team will work as quickly as possible to safely and effectively complete the screenings; please prepare accordingly and allow extra time for this process.




How do I practice safe hand hygiene?


Regular and consistent hand washing is crucial to help prevent the spread of infection. Follow the steps below to perform a good hand wash:

  1. Moisten your hands with warm, running water.
  2. Apply enough soap to produce lather.
  3. Vigorously rub all hand surfaces together for a minimum of 20 seconds.
  4. Rinse hands under warm, running water.
  5. Dry hands thoroughly using paper towels.
  6. Use a paper to turn off the faucet.
Note: Soap and water are not always available, but it’s important to prepare for times like these by keeping an antiseptic hand rub in your car, desk, or purse. Spread thoroughly over your hands and rub until dry.




How do I practice everyday precautions?


  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If you do not have access to soap and water, use an alcohol-based hand rub that contains at least 60% alcohol. Did you know? Singing or humming two rounds of “Happy Birthday” equals 20 seconds.
  • Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue or your elbow when coughing or sneezing, then throw the tissue away
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands
  • Disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces
  • Stay home if you are sick
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick
  • Practice social distancing




What is community spread?


Community spread means multiple people have been infected with a contagious disease in an area where people are not sure how or where they became infected. The source of the infection is unknown.




What is community mitigation?​


Community mitigation plans are steps that are taken on a larger scale to slow the spread of disease.




What causes coronavirus (COVID-19)?


The virus that causes COVID-19 is thought to spread mainly from person-to-person:

  • Between people who are in close contact with one another (within about 6 feet).
  • Through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes.
  • Through a person’s contact with contaminated surfaces and then touching his or her own mouth, nose, or possibly eyes, but this is not thought to be the main way the virus spreads.




What is the difference between quarantine and isolation?


Quarantine is when a person who has been exposed to someone who has COVID-19 at is at home to limit community exposure and to see if the person becomes sick. Isolation is when a person sick with COVID-19 is separated from people are not sick to avoid spreading illness.




What is social distancing?


Social distancing is when you put space between yourself and others. This can help slow the spread of COVID-19.

  • Stay home as much as you can
  • Avoid public spaces
  • Keep at least 6 feet between you and others if you must go out
  • Don't attend or host large gatherings
  • Avoid using mass transit




Do you test for COVID-19 at Mount Nittany Health?


Mount Nittany Health is following the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines for screening patients. If a patient matches the criteria, Mount Nittany Health works with the Department of Health and commercial labs to perform and confirm COVID-19 tests and results.




Are there any side effects to the COVID-19 vaccine?


The most common side effect is a sore arm for 24 to 48 hours. Some people can develop a fever, swollen lymph nodes, generalized muscle pain or fatigue. These side effects are generally mild and not unexpected. They indicate that our immune system is activated.




Is the vaccine safe?


Vaccines are safe and effective and the best way to protect you and those around you from serious illnesses. Severe allergic reactions are rare:

  • Pfizer first dose: 11.1 cases per one million doses reported severe allergic (anaphylactic) reactions (CDC).
  • Moderna first dose: 1 of more than 224,000 reported severe allergic (anaphylactic) reactions (CDC).
  • CDC plans to release more information as it becomes available.




Can kids get the vaccine?


More research is needed to make sure any COVID-19 vaccine will be safe and effective for infants, kids and teens. The Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine is not yet approved for children under the age of 16. The Moderna COVID-19 vaccine is not yet approved for children under the age of 18. The Johnson & Johnson (Janssen) vaccine is not yet approved for children under the age of 18.




Do I need to wear a mask or respirator in public?


The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that people wear a cloth face mask over the nose and mouth to help reduce the spread of COVID-19. A cloth face mask is not intended to protect the individual wearing the mask, but it may prevent the spread of virus to others. Because someone may be infected with COVID-19 and not show symptoms, wearing a cloth face mask is especially important in preventing the spread. According to the CDC, a cloth face mask should be worn in public settings (i.e. grocery stores), while medical masks and N-95 respirators are reserved for healthcare workers and other first responders. For more information and to make your own cloth face mask, click here.




What is herd immunity and how does it relate to the vaccine?


Herd immunity refers to how many people in the population need to be immune to the virus to prevent it from being spread. The more contagious the virus, the more people need to have immunity to prevent transmission. For COVID-19, 50 to 70 percent of the population needs to have immunity to achieve herd immunity. This number may change as we learn more about the virus, and it may be higher if more contagious strains emerge, such as the U.K. variant, now beginning to appear throughout the United States.

Some people have proposed letting COVID-19 run its course to achieve herd immunity, but this could result in more than two million deaths in the U.S. The only safe and effective way to achieve herd immunity is through vaccination, and we need to vaccinate the majority of the population to be successful.




I have a confirmed COVID-19 vaccine appointment. What do I need to bring with me?


You will need to bring proof of Pennsylvania residency or employment such as:

  • Pennsylvania driver’s license or Pennsylvania identification card

  • Utility bill with your name and address

  • Employer identification or badge

  • Business card

A signed vaccination agreement form.

A mask. You are required to wear a mask to the vaccine site. If you will not wear a mask, then you will not be permitted to enter the site and will lose your vaccine appointment slot.

Children and other visitors are not allowed. One caregiver may accompany you if needed.

Mount Nittany Health currently only offers vaccine appointments at Mount Nittany Medical Center. Please plan to arrive 15 minutes prior to your appointment time to check in and turn in your vaccination agreement form and proof of residency or employment in Pennsylvania.

Additionally, be prepared to stay for 15 minutes after vaccination for observation.ther visitors are not allowed.




How long will it take to distribute the vaccine?


We’ll administer the COVID-19 vaccine as quickly as we can. We are only opening appointments if and when we can confirm vaccine supplies will be made available to us from the Pennsylvania Department of Health (DOH).


We are administering the vaccine as outlined in the DOH phased plans.




Why don’t you make more vaccine appointments available?


Mount Nittany Health will open COVID-19 vaccine appointments as the Pennsylvania Department of Health (DOH) provides us with vaccine.

We are only opening appointments if and when we can confirm vaccine supplies will be made available to us from the DOH. This ensures that no scheduled patient is left without a vaccine.

Demand for the vaccine exceeds the available supply.




When can I get the COVID-19 vaccine?


We are distributing vaccines according to the eligibility guidelines set by the Pennsylvania Department of Health To stay up to do date on the vaccine distribution process at Mount Nittany Health, please visit mountnittany.org/coronavirus regularly.




How can I confirm that I am successfully registered for the COVID-19 vaccine?


If you have successfully registered, you will see a confirmation page.

In addition, within minutes, you will receive a confirmation email from Mount Nittany Health and a text message to the mobile number provided. A mobile number is not required to sign-up for the waitlist.

Please be sure to look in your spam or junk folders if you do not see a confirmation email in your inbox.




What information will I need to provide to sign up for the COVID-19 vaccine?


You will need to provide your:

  • First and Last name
  • Date of birth
  • Last four digits of Social Security Number
  • Birth sex
  • Race
  • Ethnicity
  • Phone number
  • Mobile number - please take special care to key in the mobile number correctly to ensure that you receive the confirmation text.
  • Address
  • Email address - please take special care to key in your email address correctly to ensure that you receive the confirmation email.

At the end of the waitlist registration process, you will see a screen that indicates you have successfully registered for the COVID-19 vaccine waitlist.




I successfully registered for the COVID-19 vaccine. How will I know that I have a vaccine appointment?


When vaccine supply is available, Mount Nittany Health will schedule vaccine appointments from the waitlist.

When it is your turn, we will call, email and text you to notify you of the date and time for your COVID-19 vaccine appointment.

Please keep your vaccine appointment. It is important that you receive both doses of the vaccine for it to be most effective.




I don't have a computer. How can I register for COVID-19 vaccine at Mount Nittany Health?


If you're unable to register online for the COVID-19 vaccine at mountnittany.org/coronavirus, you can call our COVID vaccine phone line 814.234.6106, Monday through Friday from 8:00 am to 5:00 pm, where someone will help add you to the waitlist. Due to high call volumes, you may experience longer than normal wait times or a busy signal.

The fastest way for eligible community members to sign up for the COVID vaccine is online at mountnittany.org/coronavirus.




I scheduled a vaccine appointment with another provider.  How can I remove myself from the Mount Nittany Health vaccine appointments?


If you schedule an appointment elsewhere before being scheduled with Mount Nittany Health, please remove yourself from our registation list by clicking "View Your Status" in your confirmation email. On the next screen, please select "Remove me from the waitlist." This is the recommended method to remove yourself from the waitlist. You may also call 814.234.7606 to request to be removed from the registration list.




Is Mount Nittany Health vaccinating children age 16 or older?


Mount Nittany Health is administering the COVID-19 vaccine to anyone who meets the Pennsylvania Department of Health’s eligibility criteria.

Currently, the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine is the only vaccine approved for children age 16 and older. If an individual is 16 years of age or older and meets the eligibility criteria, Mount Nittany Health will schedule a vaccine appointment.

A parent/guardian must be present at the time of the vaccine being administered to a minor.​

The FDA has not approved vaccines for children younger than 16 at this time.