Preventing COVID-19

We are all at risk for getting and spreading COVID-19. There are steps you can take to prevent yourself and others from getting sick.

Steps to help protect yourself from COVID-19 infection.

There are many steps you can take to help protect yourself, your loved ones and your community from severe illness from COVID-19.

Updated COVID-19 vaccines are now recommended for everyone 6 months and older.
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COVID-19 vaccines help protect you from getting seriously ill from COVID-19 by helping your body develop protection from the virus that causes COVID-19. Updated COVID-19 vaccines from Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna are available for the 2023-24 fall and winter virus season for everyone 6 months and older to help:

  • Restore immunity because protection from vaccination does decline over time. 
  • Provide protection against the currently circulating virus variants because the virus is always changing.
  • Reduce your chance of having long COVID. 

What are the COVID-19 vaccination recommendations?

  • Everyone 5 years and older should get one updated COVID-19 vaccine, at least two months after your last dose.
  • Children 6 months - 4 years need multiple doses, including at least 1 dose of updated COVID-19 vaccine. This age group has varying recommendations based on whether they were vaccinated previously or not and which vaccine they received.  
  • Anyone who is moderately or severely immunocompromised should talk to their healthcare provider about additional updated doses. 

Scrub with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If you are unable to wash your hands, using hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol is a good alternative.

Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth—as it allows the germs on your hands to reach moist, porous surface tissue where the germs can enter your body and cause infection.

Cough and sneeze into a tissue, or elbow if necessary. Then immediately dispose of the tissue and wash your hands.

Download the Preventing Infectious Respiratory Illnesses Poster for your workplace or community organization with an overview of handwashing and use of hand sanitizer.

Improving ventilation and filtration can decrease the number of virus particles indoors and help protect you from getting infected with COVID-19 since spread happens easier inside rather than outside. Some ways to improving ventilation indoors include:

  • Getting fresh outdoor air into your home by opening windows
  • Filtering the air that is there and
  • Improving air flow

Use CDC’s Interactive Home Ventilation Tool to learn how you can decrease the level of COVID-19 virus particles during and after guests visit your home

If someone is sick or has tested positive for COVID-19, then you should disinfect frequently touched surfaces, such as door handles, light switches, faucets and phones, often and with an approved disinfectant. If surfaces are dirty, first clean them using soap and water.

Stay home and test for COVID-19 if you feel unwell. Seek treatment if you have COVID-19 and are at high-risk for severe disease.

    • People may choose to wear a mask at any time.
    • Consider wearing a mask in indoor public spaces when your community has medium or high COVID-19 hospital admission levels. Masks are a good way to help protect others when you have symptoms of COVID-19, received a positive COVID-19 test or were exposed to someone with COVID-19. Some masks provide better protection than others. Respirators (ex. N95) provide higher protection than masks. Face masks should:
      • Fit snugly against your face, covering your mouth and nose.
      • Be comfortable for you and be one you can wear correctly.
      • Provide good protection and include a nose wire.
  • You may consider wearing a mask in public indoor spaces:
    • If you or someone in your household is not up to date on their COVID-19 vaccinations.
    • If you or someone in your household is at higher risk for severe COVID-19 illness such as those aged 65+, pregnant or has certain medical conditions 
    • For additional protection against COVID-19.
    • To help prevent possible spread to others.

CDC has more information about masks on their website.

Reviewed and approved by the American Lung Association Scientific and Medical Editorial Review Panel.

Page last updated: September 20, 2023

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