How can I help prevent infection and protect others?
Every person plays a role in saving lives and livelihoods by stopping the spread of COVID-19.
The best thing you can do for yourself, your family, and your community is get vaccinated, and a booster shot, when eligible, against COVID-19. Find information about vaccination to inform your decision. You are less likely to become very sick or make other people very sick.
COVID-19 spreads easily
The virus is spread through respiratory droplets. For example:
- If you are breathing in air within in close contact of a person who is infected.
- If an infected person coughs or sneezes and you get splashes or sprays into your eyes, nose, or mouth.
- If you have droplets on your hands that are then transferred to your eyes, nose, or mouth
This why it’s important to wear masks. Some people with COVID-19 can spread the virus without knowing they have it because they do not experience any symptoms (asymptomatic state). Others can spread the virus without knowing they have it because they have not developed symptoms yet (pre-symptomatic state).
Even some people who are fully vaccinated can be infected by the new variants and spread the virus to people who could become severely ill.
Vaccinated people are much less likely to need hospital care or die, and more likely to have a mild infection or not experience symptoms at all. And while vaccinated people are less infectious than unvaccinated people when they have COVID-19, they can still infect others who could become very ill.
Many people who develop COVID-19 are most contagious 1 to 2 days before they first experience symptoms and for the first five days they feel ill.
That is why it is important that every person follow the CDC's guidelines for protecting yourself and others when our community has high COVID-19 transmission rates, or when you are around people who have weakened immune systems and others who are at high-risk for severe illness from COVID-19. This includes:
- Wear a mask when you are with people you don't live with, or if you feel unwell. Learn the best way to put on a mask.
- Avoid gatherings or being in enclosed spaces with people at high-risk for severe illness, such as elderly or immunocompromised people or unvaccinated children.
- Maintain social distancing, or stay at least six feet from people outside your household.
- Wash or sanitize your hands frequently.
- Use at-home rapid antigen testing immediately before you see people outside your household. You can trust a POSITIVE result to tell you if you ARE infectious, even if negative results are often inaccurate. Learn about using antigen tests.
- Stay home if you feel unwell, and stay away from people you live with unless you receive a negative PCR test showing you do not have COVID-19. Learn what to do about possible COVID-19 exposure or symptoms.
- Get vaccinated and a booster when eligible. Vaccines are the most effective tool we have to end this pandemic. While vaccines have shown to become less effective over time, they still prevent healthy people from becoming severely ill and needing hospital care. Boosters shots offer the best protection during the current high levels of COVID-19 in our community and against the Omicron virus variant.
Thank you for doing your part to keep yourself, your loved ones, and your community safe.