Go to Content Go to Navigation Go to Navigation Go to Site Search Homepage

The best way to prevent COVID-19 is to get the COVID-19 vaccine. You can also wear a mask in indoor public spaces, stay at least 6 feet away from people you don’t live with, and avoid crowds and poorly ventilated spaces.

How can I protect myself from COVID-19?

If you’re fully vaccinated against COVID-19, it’s unlikely that you’ll get the virus — and if you do, your chances of getting so sick that you have to go to the hospital or die are very low. Being fully vaccinated also means you’re less likely to spread the virus to others. 

A new form of the COVID-19 virus — called the Delta variant — causes more infections and spreads faster than early forms of COVID-19. It’s rare for fully vaccinated people to get COVID-19 (including the Delta variant), and when they do, the infection is usually mild.

But if fully vaccinated people do get infected with the Delta variant, they can still spread it to others. And people with weakened immune systems might not have as much protection, even if they’re fully vaccinated. There are also many people who haven’t been vaccinated — like children under the age of 12 — but could get sick from COVID-19. 

So the CDC encourages everyone to wear a mask indoors in public if you’re in an area where there are substantial or high numbers of COVID-19 cases. And everyone — vaccinated or not — should follow state, local, workplace, and business rules and guidelines.

If you’re unvaccinated or have a medical condition that affects your immune system, it’s extra important to take steps to protect yourself if you have to go out in public — like avoiding crowds, wearing a tight-fitting, multi-layer mask, and staying at least 6 feet away from anyone who doesn’t live with you. If you’re going to be around other people, it’s safer to be outdoors or in spaces with lots of ventilation.

Avoiding COVID-19 isn’t just about protecting yourself, it’s about protecting your friends and family, too. Even if you don’t get sick from COVID-19, you could spread the virus to others who could get very sick and possibly die. So the safest thing for everyone to do is take as many steps as possible to prevent COVID-19, including getting the COVID-19 vaccine. The more careful everyone is, the easier it will be to stop the virus from spreading, which will save lives.

Read more about how to protect yourself from COVID-19.

What do I need to know before I go out in public?

There’s still a COVID-19 pandemic in the U.S., and many places still have a very high number of cases. And a new form of the COVID-19 virus — called the Delta variant — causes more infections and spreads faster than early forms of COVID-19.

Before you go out, think about:

  • Have I been vaccinated? 

    • Getting the COVID-19 vaccine is the best way to protect yourself and others.

    • If you’re fully vaccinated, you can safely go back to doing most activities that you did before the pandemic.

    • Fully vaccinated people have a much lower chance of getting COVID-19 than people who have not gotten the COVID-19 vaccine.

    • If vaccinated people do get COVID-19, the infection is usually mild (even with the Delta variant).

    • Fully vaccinated people who do get infected with the Delta variant can spread it to others.

    • People with weakened immune systems might not have as much protection, even if they’re fully vaccinated.

    • Wear a mask indoors in public if you’re in an area where there are substantial or high numbers of COVID-19 cases (even if you’re vaccinated).

    • Everyone — vaccinated or not —  still needs to wear a mask while traveling or on public transportation (like planes, trains, buses, and in stations and airports).

    • Everyone — vaccinated or not —  should follow state, local, workplace, and business rules and guidelines around wearing masks and social distancing.

    •  Read more about socializing safely after you get the vaccine.

  • Am I at higher risk for severe illness from COVID-19?

    • If you’re over 65 years-old, have a weakened immune system, or have certain medical conditions, you’re more likely to get seriously sick from COVID-19 (even if you’re fully vaccinated). So it’s even more important to take other safety measures, like wearing a mask in indoor public spaces.

  • Do I live with anybody who is unvaccinated (like children under 12) or at higher risk for severe illness from COVID-19?

  • How many people will I be around, and who are they?

    • Close contact with people who don’t live with you increases your chances of being exposed to COVID-19, especially if they’re not vaccinated.

    • The more people you’ll be around, the more likely you are to get the virus.

  • Will people be wearing masks and be able to stay at least six feet away from each other?

    • Being around people who aren’t wearing masks increases your chances of being exposed to COVID-19, especially if they’re not vaccinated.

    • Being in a crowded area where people can’t social distance increases your risk.

  • Will I be inside or outside?

    • Indoor spaces are generally less safe, because there’s less ventilation and it’s harder for people to stay 6 feet away from each other.

    • If you have to be inside, places with lots of ventilation — like open windows, fans, or air filtration systems — are safer.

  • How long will I be around other people?

    • The longer you’re near other people, the higher your chances are of being exposed to COVID-19 (especially if they’re not vaccinated).

  • Is COVID-19 spreading in my community?

    • If lots of people in your community or region have COVID-19, you’re more likely to get it if you go out.

    • If the vaccination rate in your community is low, your chances of getting COVID-19 are higher.

    • You can get info on COVID-19 data in your county and state on the CDC website.

    • Check with your local health department for updates on the situation in your community.

Remember: even if you get COVID-19 but don’t get very sick, you could give the virus to others who may die from it. And you can’t tell who does or doesn’t have COVID-19 just by looking at them — someone can have the virus and not know it. So it’s best to be as careful as you can.

The CDC has more information about specific activities, and how to keep yourself and others safe when you’re going out and traveling.

How do I stay healthy when I’m working during the COVID-19 pandemic?   

Getting the COVID-19 vaccine is the best way to protect yourself and people around you, at work and at home. Vaccines are free to everyone — no matter your immigration status and whether or not you have health insurance. Find a vaccine near you

You can also talk to your employer about on-the-job protection steps available for you and your co-workers during this time. Learn more about how you can protect yourself and others from getting sick if you’re a domestic or home health care worker, a child care worker, or another type of essential worker.

The federal government has passed laws to provide financial assistance to workers and families throughout the pandemic. Some people, like those who are undocumented, may not qualify for this support. Many local groups — like churches, schools, and community-based organizations — may also offer help with rent and groceries.  Learn more about resources available for undocumented immigrants

If you have to stay home from work because you feel sick, your employer may offer paid sick leave. There are laws in place that require some employers to offer paid sick leave for those affected by COVID-19. Learn more about employee paid leave rights under the new federal law

Was this page helpful?
You’re the best! Thanks for your feedback.
Thanks for your feedback.