Practicing Medicine COVID-19 Toolkit COVID-19 Patient Education

COVID-19 Patient Education

patient resources

Keep your patients informed about the current risks of COVID-19

Tools and resources for educating your patients on COVID-19 symptoms, vaccines and preventive measures.

Last updated: October 2023

It is important to discuss COVID-19 symptoms with patients so they can identify and know when to take necessary actionable steps to reduce transmission to others. Masks can help reduce exposure to the virus, especially during the winter or when engaging in large groups and poorly ventilated spaces. Masks can serve as a protective barrier for those patients who are immunocompromised, 65 years or older and for those with pre-existing health conditions. The CDC recommends updated COVID-19 vaccine for this year’s fall/winter virus season. The following resources have been compiled to assist physicians in talking with their patients about the risks of infection and steps that could help mitigate risks.

Symptoms & warning signs

Providing patients with the knowledge and tools to identify the symptoms of COVID-19 can play a critical role in helping to prevent spread of the virus.

Select an option below to learn more:

General COVID-19 symptoms

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

Emergency COVID-19 warning signs & symptoms

  • Difficulty waking or staying asleep
  • Discoloration of lips, nailbeds or skin (dependent on skin tone)
  • New confusion
  • Persistent pain or discomfort in the chest
  • Difficulty breathing without exertion

COVID-19 transmission reduction tips

  • Perform frequent handwashing with or without adjunct antiseptics.
  • Use protective barrier measures such as masks that cover a patient’s nose and mouth.
  • Suggest patients isolate themselves from others upon infection suspicion.
  • Encourage patients to get tested immediately if they develop any symptoms after exposure to COVID-19.
  • Advise patients to consider re-testing if they initially tested negative after exposure.
  • If a patient tests positive for COVID-19, advise them to stay at home for five days and wear a mask if they live with others.
  • Recommend improving air quality where patients live and work by opening windows, providing better ventilation and using an adequate filtration system. Encourage patients to spend time outdoors.

Other important information

  • If a patient has COVID-19 and is at risk for complications, treatments are available to reduce the chances of hospitalization and death.
  • Medications are available that can decrease the severity of symptoms and aid in illness management.
  • Don’t delay receiving treatment; timing is essential for treatment effectiveness.
  • COVID-19 medications are available through your physicians, health clinics and local pharmacies. Find where COVID-19 medications are available by using the ASPR medication map.

Vaccines & side effects

Frontline physicians should inform patients that one of the best ways to prevent COVID-19 infection is to get vaccinated. Visit the Facts on Vax web pages throughout to obtain information on how to talk with patients on the importance of vaccinations. In most cases, side effects from the vaccine are rare. Below is a list of possible side effects to discuss with patients.

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At the injection site:

  • Pain
  • Swelling
  • Redness

Throughout the rest of the body:

  • Nausea
  • Chills
  • Muscle pain
  • Headache
  • Fatigue
  • Fever

Infants and children (6 months to 3 years)

  • Loss of appetite
  • Irritability or crying
  • Swollen lymph nodes
  • Sleepiness
  • Pain at the injection site

Children (4 to 17 years)

*Side effects are more common after receipt of the second dose.

  • Muscle or joint pain
  • Headache
  • Tiredness
  • Chills
  • Swollen lymph nodes

Additional patient resources

The following links lead to helpful information that can be used to further educate your patients about the latest COVID-19 recommendations.

Select an option below to learn more:

Vaccine information


References & articles


  • Graña C, Ghosn L, Evrenoglou T, Jarde A, Minozzi S, Bergman H, Buckley BS, Probyn K, Villanueva G, Henschke N, Bonnet H, Assi R, Menon S, Marti M, Devane D, Mallon P, Lelievre JD, Askie LM, Kredo T, Ferrand G, Davidson M, Riveros C, Tovey D, Meerpohl JJ, Grasselli G, Rada G, Hróbjartsson A, Ravaud P, Chaimani A, Boutron I. Efficacy and safety of COVID-19 vaccines. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2022 Dec 7;12(12):CD015477. doi: 10.1002/14651858.CD015477. PMID: 36473651; PMCID: PMC9726273.



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