Getting the COVID-19 vaccine, along with frequent handwashing, avoiding direct personal contact with unvaccinated or sick people, and avoiding large crowds are at the center of how to protect yourself. Below, learn how to keep from spreading illness.
CDC Guidance for Vaccinated People
Fully vaccinated people CAN be infected with COVID-19. While breakthrough infections happen in a small percentage of people, evidence suggests that vaccinated pepole can spread the virus to others. Therefore, it is important to take precautions to protect unvaccinated people.
The CDC released updated guidance, summarized here. Fully vaccinated people can:
Fully vaccinated people should:
- Wear a mask in public indoor settings if they are in an area of substantial or high transmission.
- Fully vaccinated people might choose to mask regardless of the level of transmission, particularly if they or someone in their household is immunocompromised or at increased risk for severe disease, or if someone in their household is unvaccinated. People who are at increased risk for severe disease include older adults and those who have certain medical conditions, such as diabetes, overweight or obesity, and heart conditions.
- Get tested if experiencing COVID-19 symptoms.
- Get tested 3-5 days following a known exposure to someone with suspected or confirmed COVID-19 and wear a mask in public indoor settings for 14 days after exposure or until a negative test result.
- Isolate if they have tested positive for COVID-19 in the prior 10 days or are experiencing COVID-19 symptoms.
- Follow any applicable federal, state, local, tribal, or territorial laws, rules, and regulations.
How can you limit the spread of COVID-19?
In addition to getting vaccinated, it is important to take preventive actions to help limit the spread of COVID-19:
- Wear a face covering in public places. Learn how and why.
- Avoid close contact (keep a distance of at least 6 feet) with people who are sick and people outside of your household.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
- Stay home when you are sick, except to get medical care.
- Cover your coughs and sneezes with a tissue, then throw it in the trash.
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom, before eating, and after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing. If soap and water are not readily available, use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% ethanol or 70% isopropanol alcohol.
- Clean frequently touched surfaces and objects daily – including tables, countertops, light switches, doorknobs, cell phones, and cabinet handles. Using a regular household detergent and water.
- Take special precautions if you fall into high risk groups (older people and people with severe chronic conditions).
What happens when you get sick with COVID-19?
Many people who get the infection will get only a mild illness, like a cold, but the elderly and frail are at increased risk of severe infection, requiring hospitalization or even critical care. There are also long-term effects of COVID-19 that researchers are watching closely.
If you are have been in close contact with someone with COVID-19 or develop symptoms of COVID-19, call your healthcare provider and tell them about your symptoms and your exposure. They will decide whether you need to be tested. Keep in mind that there is no treatment for COVID-19 and people who are mildly ill are able to isolate at home. If you are sick, find out what to do next
How do coronaviruses spread?
Coronaviruses spread from person to person through droplets when an infected person coughs or sneezes. These droplets can infect people nearby if the virus gets into their body through their eyes, nose or mouth.
You could get COVID-19 through close contact with an infected person who is coughing and sneezing. You may also be able to get it from touching a contaminated surface (for example, if someone coughs over a table and then you touch that table).
The CDC recently released this video explaining how the virus spreads in communities, including large family gatherings:
Focus on controlling what you can: