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COVID-19 FAQs - Frequently Asked Questions 


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  For Individuals

Are masks required in the City of Milwaukee?

As of June 1, 2021, the mask ordinance in the City of Milwaukee is no longer in effect. The Milwaukee Health Department, following CDC guidance, issued a mask advisory on July 29 for all people, regardless of vaccination status, to wear a mask in pubic, indoor settings. 


What does “fully vaccinated” mean?

In general, people are considered fully vaccinated:

  • 2 weeks after their second dose in a 2-dose series, such as the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines, or
  • 2 weeks after a single-dose vaccine, such as Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen vaccine

If you don’t meet these requirements, regardless of your age, you are NOT fully vaccinated. Keep taking all precautions until you are fully vaccinated.

For more information about the vaccine and clinic locations, visit


When will I have to wear a mask, even if I am vaccinated?

Per CDC guidance, due to the transmissible nature of the Delta variant, masks are strongly encouraged for all individuals, regardless of vaccination status, in public, indoor settings.

Regardless of vaccination status, individuals will need to wear a mask whenever required by an individual business.
In addition, the CDC’s guidance does not apply to the following environments: 

  • Schools
    • Most students will still be unvaccinated and schools should follow CDC’s guidance for schools. Teachers, school administrators, and staff should continue to follow CDC’s school guidance until more people and children are vaccinated.
  • Healthcare settings
  • Correctional institutions
    • Fully vaccinated residents and employees of correctional facilities should still wear a mask, according to the CDC. Masking in these settings is still recommended because they may face high turnover of residents and a higher risk of transmission.
  • Homeless shelters
    • Fully vaccinated residents and employees of homeless shelters should still wear a mask, according to the CDC. Masking in these settings is still recommended because they may face high turnover of residents and a higher risk of transmission.
  • Public transportation
    • If you travel, you will still be required to wear a mask on planes, buses, trains, and other forms of public transportation traveling into, within, or out of the United States, and in U.S.. transportation hubs such as airports and stations. Many forms of public transportation include a large number of people—vaccinated and unvaccinated—in small spaces that could increase the risk for unvaccinated individuals.


How will you know if someone is fully vaccinated?

You may not know if someone around you is vaccinated or not, which is why we are encouraging everyone to get vaccinated – because we know the benefits: it protects you, it protects others, and it lets us begin to return to normal. So we hope everyone takes advantage of this important tool to stay safe and end the pandemic. Vaccination is safe, available, and free.


Can businesses choose to continue to require masks for customers and/or employees?

Yes. Businesses can choose to continue to require face coverings for all customers, regardless of vaccination status. Customers should be respectful, courteous, and abide by all individual policies in place. Businesses have the right to refuse entry or service to any person who refuses to comply with their policies.


Can a business require me to prove my vaccination status?

Yes, legally a business can ask customers if they have been vaccinated. This is not a HIPAA violation. Customers can choose whether or not to disclose their vaccination status, but are subject to a business refusing service or requiring a mask if you cannot or choose not to prove vaccination.


What should I bring with me when I leave the house?

Everyone is encouraged to continue to bring a mask along with them, in case a business requires masks for everyone regardless of vaccination status. If you are fully vaccinated, you may consider carrying your vaccination card with you in the event it is required by a business.


What do I need to do if I am exposed to COVID-19?

The CDC recommends fully vaccinated people who have come into close contact with someone with suspected or confirmed COVID-19 should be tested 3-5 days after exposure, and wear a mask in public indoor settings for 14 days or until they receive a negative test result.

More information about COVID-19 testing in Milwaukee can be found at


Do I need to quarantine if I've been in close contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19?

Everyone, regardless of vaccination status, who has come into close contact with someone with suspected or confirmed COVID-19 should be tested 3-5 days after exposure.

Unvaccinated individuals should quarantine for 14 days or until they receive a negative COVID-19 test result.

Vaccinated individuals do not need to quarantine, but should be diligent about wearing a mask in public settings for 14 days or until they receive a negative COVID-19 test result.


Do children under the age of 12 need to continue wearing masks?

Per CDC guidance, any unvaccinated people over the age of 2 are strongly encouraged to take precautions, including wearing a well-fitted mask.


I’m vaccinated. Can I spread COVID-19 to my unvaccinated kids?

We are still learning how well vaccines prevent you from spreading the virus that causes COVID-19 to others, even if you do not have symptoms. Emerging data show that vaccines help keep people with no symptoms from spreading COVID-19. We know that people who don’t have COVID-19 can’t spread COVID-19. As of May 17 in Wisconsin, only 0.045% of vaccinated people tested positive for COVID-19 (these are called breakthrough infections). As a vaccinated person, to spread the virus, you’d need to be one of those 0.045% of people and you’d need to have a viral load high enough to transmit the virus. The odds of you spreading the virus are exceedingly small. Additionally, with low levels of virus circulating in our highly vaccinated community, the likelihood of encountering COVID-19 decreases every day.

(source: Public Health Madison & Dane County)


How can I keep my unvaccinated kids safe?

Get vaccinated yourself.

The most important thing you can do to protect your kids is ensure you and any eligible people in the house are vaccinated. Encourage the people in your kids’ lives, such as coaches, teachers, and family friends, to also get vaccinated. This helps form a circle of protection around your kids who are not yet able to get vaccinated. Get your kids vaccinated as soon as their age group is eligible.

Align your behaviors with your comfort with risks.

Many businesses are continuing to offer options that became popular in the past year, including curbside pickup, delivery, and online ordering. Continue to make use of these options if you aren’t comfortable bringing your child into an indoor public space.

CDC outlines certain activities by risk level. For example, it’s safer for an unvaccinated kid to have a playdate outside than to dine indoors at a busy restaurant. Determine what you’re comfortable with and adjust your behavior accordingly.

Have kids ages 2 and older mask up in indoor public spaces.

Per CDC guidance, we recommend any unvaccinated person ages 2 and older wear a mask when in indoor public spaces.

Ask organizers about your kid’s activities.

If your child participates in youth activities, such as music lessons or after school camps, ask them about their policies following the expiration of the health order on June 1. We recommend that these youth activities follow CDC guidance, which at this time recommend groups of youth continue to wear masks.

Get tested if you or your kids have symptoms.

There are tons of options for getting tested in Milwaukee. Free COVID-19 tests are available for anyone, regardless of symptoms, for drive-thru or walk-up without an appointment.

(source: Public Health Madison & Dane County)

  For Businesses and Events

Does my business still need to submit or follow a safety plan?

No. After June 1, the Risk Assessment tool and safety plan are no longer required. However, these are good recommendations to follow if you are looking to restart indoor dining operations. If you have a previously approved safety plan and wish to make amendments, please document what you are changing in your safety plan in a separate document and you can submit to MHD for review.


Can my business continue to require face masks for customer and/or employees?

Yes, businesses can choose to continue to enforce a mask policy for customers and employees, regardless of vaccination status. Businesses have the right to refuse entry or service to any person who refuses to comply with their policies.


How will a mask policy be enforced, if a business chooses to enact one?

Any safety policies will be up to each individual business to enforce. Businesses have the right to refuse entry or service to any person who refuses to comply with their policies.


Will businesses be required to verify that individuals are fully vaccinated?

Businesses are encouraged to verify vaccination status but are not required to maintain records in order to allow fully vaccinated individuals to not wear face coverings. At this point, there is no uniform proof of vaccine. Businesses can choose to verify that individuals are fully vaccinated by checking vaccination card, photo/photocopy of vaccination card, or other printout/photo/electronic proof of vaccine records with the patron’s name. Businesses may develop methods to evaluate authenticity of the documentation provided.


Do religious assemblies need to abide by gathering size limits or mask requirements?

No. Religious assemblies have the option to operate at 100% capacity, and those who are vaccinated can attend religious gatherings without wearing a mask. Religious institutions can choose to enforce any safety policies in the best interests of their congregation.


Will schools still enforce safety policies, such as masking for teachers and students?

Masks are highly recommended in schools by the CDC, specifically in elementary and middle schools where students are not eligible for the vaccine yet. While masks are highly recommended for students, teachers, and staff regardless of vaccination status, enforcement will be up to the individual schools and school districts.

  COVID-19 Vaccine FAQs

Who should get a COVID-19 vaccine?

Everyone who is able to get a vaccine should get one when it’s made available to them. Currently, everyone 12 years of age and older is eligible to get the COVID-19 vaccination.


Where can I get a COVID-19 vaccination?

The Milwaukee Health Department has walk-in vaccination clinics at the Northwest Health Center, 6431 N. 76th Street, and Southside Health Center, 1639 S. 23rd Street. In-home vaccinations are available by calling (414) 286-6800 to schedule. Weekly mobile vaccination clinics are listed on the COVID-19 Vaccination webpage.

Additionally, you can reach out directly to your primary healthcare provider or local pharmacy to schedule a vaccination appointment.


What do I do if I lost my COVID-19 vaccination card?

If you lost your COVID-19 Vaccination Card, you can access and print your own immunization record in the Wisconsin Immunization Registry (WIR).  
See also: WIR Parent Brochure


Is the COVID-19 vaccine approved by the FDA?

On August 23, 2021, the FDA approved the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine (now marketed as Comirnaty) for the prevention of COVID-19 disease in individuals 16 years of age and older. The vaccine also continues to be available under emergency use authorization (EUA), including for individuals 12 through 15 years of age and for the administration of a third dose in certain immunocompromised individuals.

The Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines continue to be available under emergency use authorization (EUA).


If I have already had COVID-19 and recovered, do I still need to get vaccinated?

Yes, you should be vaccinated regardless of whether you already had COVID-19. That’s because experts do not yet know how long you are protected from getting sick again after recovering from COVID-19. Even if you have already recovered from COVID-19, it is possible—although rare—that you could be infected with the virus that causes COVID-19 again. Learn more about why getting vaccinated is a safer way to build protection than getting infected.

If you were treated for COVID-19 with monoclonal antibodies or convalescent plasma, you should wait 90 days before getting a COVID-19 vaccine. Talk to your doctor if you are unsure what treatments you received or if you have more questions about getting a COVID-19 vaccine.

Experts are still learning more about how long vaccines protect against COVID-19 in real-world conditions. CDC will keep the public informed as new evidence becomes available.


Is it safe for children to get a COVID-19 vaccination?

Yes. Studies show that COVID-19 vaccines are safe and effective. Children 12 years and older are now eligible to get vaccinated against COVID-19. COVID-19 vaccines have been used under the most intensive safety monitoring in U.S. history, including studies in children 12 years and older. Vaccination is now recommended for everyone 12 years and older. Currently, the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine is the only one available to children 12 years and older.


What are the most common side effects after getting a COVID-19 vaccine?

After getting vaccinated, you might have some side effects, which are normal signs that your body is building protection. Common side effects are pain, redness, and swelling in the arm where you received the shot, as well as tiredness, headache, muscle pain, chills, fever, and nausea throughout the rest of the body. These side effects could affect your ability to do daily activities, but they should go away in a few days. Learn more about what to expect after getting a COVID-19 vaccine.


If I am pregnant, trying to get pregnant, or hope to become pregnant in the future, can I get a COVID-19 vaccine?

Yes. If you are pregnant, trying to become pregnant now, or want to get pregnant in the future, you may get a COVID-19 vaccine when one is available to you.

There is currently no evidence that COVID-19 vaccination causes any problems with pregnancy, including the development of the placenta. In addition, there is no evidence that fertility problems are a side effect of any vaccine, including COVID-19 vaccines.

While such a conversation with your healthcare provider might be helpful, it is not required before vaccination. Learn more about vaccination considerations for people who are pregnant or breastfeeding.


How long after receiving the vaccine will I develop immunity?

Immunity should be developed within a two weeks of receiving the second dose. It's important that individuals continue to wear a mask, wash their hands, and physical distance until fully inoculated.


How long does protection from a COVID-19 vaccine last?

We don’t know how long protection lasts for those who are vaccinated. What we do know is that COVID-19 has caused very serious illness and death for a lot of people. If you get COVID-19, you also risk giving it to loved ones who may get very sick. Getting a COVID-19 vaccine is a safer choice.

Experts are working to learn more about both natural immunity and vaccine-induced immunity. CDC will keep the public informed as new evidence becomes available.


Can a COVID-19 vaccine make me sick with COVID-19?

 No. None of the authorized and recommended COVID-19 vaccines or COVID-19 vaccines currently in development in the United States contain the live virus that causes COVID-19. This means that a COVID-19 vaccine cannot make you sick with COVID-19.

COVID-19 vaccines teach our immune systems how to recognize and fight the virus that causes COVID-19. Sometimes this process can cause symptoms, such as fever. These symptoms are normal and are signs that the body is building protection against the virus that causes COVID-19. Learn more about how COVID-19 vaccines work.


Source: CDC Frequently Asked Questions about COVID-19 Vaccination