COVID-19 General Information

General COVID-19 FAQs

According to Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center Medical Director of Infection Prevention, Dr. Steven Pergam, patients with blood malignancies (non-Hodgkin lymphoma, chronic lymphocytic leukemia, acute myeloid leukemia, acute lymphoblastic leukemia and multiple myeloma) and those who have received bone marrow transplants are most vulnerable because they have the most profound immune deficits.

Patients who are in active treatment for any type of cancer are also at risk. Please see the CDC's webpage on COVID-19 and cancer for more information

Patients who are not in active treatment should also be cautious and follow widely distributed public health guidelines that are detailed below under “What can I do to keep myself, my family and friends safe?”

Evusheld is a medicine given to certain people to prevent COVID-19 infection before they have been exposed to the virus. It is a combination of antibodies called tixagevimab and cilgavimab. It is not for people who already have COVID-19 or those who have a recent known close contact with someone who has COVID-19. It is not a substitute for getting vaccinated and boosted.

In immunocompromised people, Evusheld may help protect against COVID-19 for about 6 months.

We continue to prioritize our most immunocompromised patients as defined by the National Institutes of Health

  • Active pre-transplant/blood or marrow transplant within one year, those with chronic graft-versus-host disease or those who are taking immunosuppressive medications for another indication
  • CAR T-cell recipients
  • Hematologic malignancy (blood disease) patients on active therapy  
  • Patients who are within one year of receiving B-cell depleting therapies  
  • Patients receiving Bruton tyrosine kinase inhibitors
  • Patients with severe combined immunodeficiencies  
  • Lung transplant recipients  
  • Patients who are within one year of receiving a solid organ transplant (other than lung transplant) 
  • Solid organ transplant recipients with recent treatment for acute rejection with T- or B-cell depleting agents 
  • Patients with untreated human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) who have a CD4 T lymphocyte cell count <50 cells/mm³
  • Solid tumor patients receiving active chemotherapy
  • Patients receiving high-dose corticosteroids (prednisone 20 mg daily or equivalent x 14 or more days) or other immunosuppressive therapy (e.g., tacrolimus, sirolimus, MMF, TNF-alpha-inhibitors, alkylating agents, antimetabolites), or other biologic agents that are immunosuppressive or immunomodulatory (e.g., B-cell depleting agents)

If you think you might be eligible, talk with your care team. 

Paxlovid is a medicine given to treat people with mild to moderate COVID-19 who are not in the hospital. It is used to reduce the risk of being hospitalized or dying in people who are at high risk. Paxlovid is a combination of antivirals called nirmatrelvir and ritonavir. It is not a substitute for getting vaccinated and boosted.

We continue to prioritize Paxlovid for patients who need it most. To be eligible for Paxlovid, you must:

  • Be at least 12 years old (or at least 88 lbs./40 kg).
  • Test positive for COVID-19.
  • Be at high risk for severe COVID-19.
  • Have mild to moderate symptoms.
  • Be within five days of the start of symptoms.

If you have symptoms that could be from COVID-19, get tested as soon as possible. Paxlovid may be an option for you — but only if you test positive and can start the medicine within five days of symptom onset. 

If you think you might be eligible, talk with your care team or your primary care provider. 

There may be some drug interactions that need to be reviewed prior to prescribing Paxlovid.


COVID-19 symptoms include:

  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath
  • Headache
  • Fatigue
  • Chest tightness
  • Sore throat
  • Stuffy nose or runny nose
  • Loss of taste or smell
  • New onset of diarrhea
  • Muscle aches and pains

If you have an appointment scheduled and have COVID-19 symptoms, please call your care team before coming to the clinic.

Knowing about symptoms before you come into the clinic helps us keep everyone safe.

COVID-19 and the Flu

The flu and COVID-19 are both contagious illnesses, but they are caused by different viruses. COVID-19 is caused by infection with a new coronavirus (called SARS-CoV-2). The flu is caused by infection with influenza viruses.

It may be hard to tell the difference between the flu and COVID-19 from symptoms alone because some of the symptoms are similar. You should get tested for COVID-19 to help confirm a diagnosis.

Keeping You Safe

Fred Hutch is taking the following steps:

  • We will screen for COVID-10 symptoms when you check in for your appointment.
  • All patients, visitors and staff in Fred Hutch clinics must wear a surgical mask. If patients and visitors aren’t wearing a mask upon arrival, we will provide one. Please see CDC guidelines on how to protect yourself for more information.
  • Limiting the number of visitors. This includes:
    • Scheduling telehealth appointments for patients when possible.
    • Limiting the number of caregivers that patients can bring to their appointment (one caregiver; no children under 12). Please be aware that the visitor policy at UW Medical Center and Seattle Children's may be different. Click on links for their updated policies.
    • Keeping all non-essential staff out of the clinic.
    • Postponing all patient education events, classes and volunteer opportunities. Some classes are available online on YouTube.
    • Increasing the frequency of cleaning high-touch surfaces such as door handles and elevator buttons

You can visit Shine, our retail store, at 207 Pontius Ave. N., to find apparel, jewelry, books, housewares, games, oncology items and specialty skin care products. Shine is open Monday-Friday 9 a.m. - 6 p.m. and Saturday 10 a.m. - 4 p.m.  All oncology fittings require an appointment. Please call 206.606.7560 or email A free shuttle is available from the South Lake Union clinic Monday-Friday.

Fred Hutch has extensive and thorough infection control procedures, and we are doing everything we can to ensure the health and safety of our community. We have protocols and systems in place to keep all patients, visitors and staff safe. However, with highly contagious strains of the virus, full protection isn’t always possible.

Fred Hutch requires that all staff are vaccinated against COVID-19.

The most important steps to take are:

  • Get vaccinated according to the CDC.
  • Avoid going to gatherings with large numbers of people; follow social distancing guidelines.
  • Stay home when you are sick.
  • Wear a mask when you are out in public and cannot practice social distancing.
  • Wear a mask when in a health care setting, including Fred Hutch clinics.
  • Practice good hand hygiene and cough and sneeze etiquette. Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.
  • Currently, there is no evidence to suggest that COVID-19 can be spread through food or water systems. However, you can take extra steps to help protect your health while preparing, cooking and shopping for food. Read more about Food, Nutrition and COVID-19 (PDF).
  • Plan how you will take care of sick family members. Make plans for childcare if you are sick or if your child is sick. Have a thermometer at home so you can check for fever if you or a loved one feels ill.
  • Stay informed – check the CDC site regularly for new updates.

Screening and Testing

Tell your care team immediately – it is best to inform them before you visit the clinic. They will let you know what options are available for your visit. 

All who enter Fred Hutch clinics are screened for COVID-19 symptoms. Every person will be given an I’ve been screened sticker. Anyone with symptoms will be given a procedure mask and evaluated during their appointment.

We encourage you to find testing locations in your community by visiting the Washington State Department of Health’s COVID-19 testing locations webpage.

If you are a Fred Hutch patient with symptoms and think you need to be tested for COVID-19, please complete a home test or seek out a community testing option (details below.) You can also call your care team, and they can help you find the best option. 

Order free, rapid at-home antigen tests from the Washington State Department of Health at You can also buy rapid at-home tests at local stores and pharmacies.

Antigen tests provide rapid results — typically in less than 30 minutes. Although they are less accurate than PCR tests, at-home antigen tests can be a helpful measure to prevent the spread of COVID-19. 

Learn when to self-test at home from King County Public Health’s COVID-19 self-testing webpage and CDC’s guidelines for self-testing

Find a COVID-19 testing site from the Washington State Department of Health.

In addition to knowing which guidelines to follow, testing is important because many of the current treatment options for cancer patients, such as monoclonal infusions and antiviral pills, require a test before you can get them. As a reminder, if you have cold or flu symptoms, tell your care team — even if you test negative for COVID-19. They may want to change your treatment schedule 

If you took a test because you have symptoms or because you have been exposed but don’t have symptoms, here’s what to do.

  • You tested negative: Get a PCR test to confirm your result.
  • You tested positive: You have COVID-19. Notify your care team. Isolate at home. Do not seek further testing unless directed by your team. 

Tell your care team immediately. They will discuss any changes in your treatment, as well as COVID-19 treatment options that may be available to you.

Tell your care team before your visit so they can advise you about the best time to come for your visit or if they want you to get additional testing.


Yes. In line with CDC guidance, all patients, visitors and staff in Fred Hutch clinics must wear a mask. If you’re coming for an appointment, please wear a mask. If someone comes with you, they must wear one, too. A mask will be provided to those who aren’t wearing one.

By covering your mouth and nose, you are less likely to spread the virus when you are not showing symptoms (asymptomatic) or have early symptoms.

In Washington state, masks are no longer required in most public places. However, health care facilities and businesses may choose to continue requiring masks. 

Masks are still a good way to help limit the spread of COVID-19. CDC continues to recommend masks in some settings and for some people. In particular, CDC recommends masks for people who are at high risk for getting very sick from COVID-19, including people with cancer, if the level of COVID-19 in their community is medium or high. Learn more on the CDC website

To put on a mask:

  • Wash your hands with soap and water or hand gel (if soap and water aren’t available).
  • Without touching the front of your face covering, stretch the bands around your ears or secure the ties around your head (depending on the type of face covering you have).
  • Cover the area from the bridge of your nose to under your chin.
  • Fit the mask snugly but comfortably against the side of your face.
  • Make sure you can breathe without restriction.
  • Wash your hands.

To remove your mask:

  • Wash your hands with soap and water or hand gel (if soap and water aren’t available).
  • Untie the ties from your head or remove the bands from your ears.
  • Remove the mask by the straps. Do not touch the front or inside of the mask (the part over your nose and mouth). It may be contaminated from your breathing, coughing or sneezing. If you touch the mask, wash your hands.
  • Wash your hands.

Important tips:

  • Wash your hands each time you put on and take off your mask.
  • Avoid touching the front of your mask while you’re wearing it. If you do, wash your hands.
  • Do NOT pull the mask down to expose your nose or mouth. Adjust the mask using the ties on your head or cords around your ears.

Daily Activities and Going Out

In general, the closer you are to others and the longer the time you are with them, the higher the risk of spreading COVID-19. If you decide to go out in public, protect yourself by following the guidelines under "What can I do to keep myself, my family and friends safe?"

Visit the CDC's webpage, How to Protect Yourself & Others, for information on each of these topics and more.

Some authorities consider you fully vaccinated right after vaccination or within two weeks after the last dose in your primary series, depending on the vaccine maker. However, you are best protected from highly transmissible strains if you are fully boosted. CDC considers you up to date with your COVID-19 vaccines if you have had all doses in your primary series and all boosters you are eligible for. 

If you are a cancer patient, we recommend you remain cautious, even if you are fully vaccinated or up to date. This includes people who:

  • Have not yet started treatment
  • Are in active treatment
  • Have recently completed treatment
  • Have weakened immune systems; for example, blood and marrow transplant patients

Although you may hear that others are gathering together after getting vaccinated, people with cancer are more vulnerable. We don’t know how well the vaccines work in people with cancer, particularly those who are on active treatment.

Until we know more about the effectiveness of vaccines in cancer patients, fully vaccinated people with cancer should continue to:

  • Wear a well-fitted mask and practice physical distancing when in public.
  • Avoid in-person gatherings with those outside your household.
  • If you do visit with unvaccinated people outside of your household, wear masks, practice physical distancing and follow other prevention measures.
  • Avoid airline travel. 
  • Get tested if you have COVID-19 symptoms.
  • Perform regular hand hygiene.

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