How to Protect Yourself and Your Family from Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19)

What can I do to prevent coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19)?

The best strategy to protect yourself and others from COVID-19 is to continue to follow the CDC’s recommended public health guidelines to help prevent transmission of COVID-19, including getting vaccinated if you are eligible, wearing a mask, practicing physical distancing, washing your hands frequently and avoiding crowds. Read more tips below.

In early December 2020, the first COVID-19 vaccines were approved for use in the United States using the FDA’s Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) process. In August 2021, the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine received full FDA approval for use in people ages 16 and up. Under the previous emergency use authorization, all other COVID-19 vaccines available in the U.S. are still approved for use in people ages 18 and up, with the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine also approved for use in people ages 12 to 15.

As a COVID-19 vaccination provider, Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) provides vaccinations according to guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and state and local departments of health. Read more about CHOP's COVID-19 Vaccine Program.

Guidance for vaccinated individuals

With the emergence of new variants as well as differences in local transmission rates, please refer to the CDC for the most up-to-date guidance for fully vaccinated individuals.

Prepare and protect yourself from COVID-19

Here are some more steps everyone can take to help stop the spread of COVID-19:

  • Wash your hands often with soap and clean, running water for at least 20 seconds.
  • If you don’t have access to soap and water, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer often. Make sure it has at least 60% alcohol.
  • Don't touch your eyes, nose, or mouth unless you have clean hands.
  • As much as possible, don't touch "high-touch" public surfaces such as doorknobs and handles, cabinet handles, and light switches. Don't shake hands.
  • Clean home and work surfaces often with disinfectant. This includes desk surfaces, printers, phones, kitchen counters, tables, fridge door handle, bathroom surfaces, and any soiled surface. Closely follow disinfectant label instructions. See the CDC’s cleaning website for detailed instructions.
  • Cough or sneeze into a tissue, then throw the tissue into the trash. If you don't have tissues, cough or sneeze into the bend of your elbow.
  • The CDC advises wearing a cloth face mask in public. During a public health emergency, medical face masks may be reserved for healthcare workers. Your mask should have at least two layers, should fit snugly against your face and should cover both your mouth and nose. Learn more about using masks to slow the spread of COVID-19
  • Stay away from people who are sick.
  • Stay informed about COVID-19 in your area. Follow local instructions about being in public. Be aware of events in your community that may be postponed or canceled, such as school and sporting events. You may be advised not to attend public gatherings and to stay about 6 feet from others as much as possible. This is called "physical distancing."
  • Check your home supplies. Consider keeping a 2-week supply of medicines, food, and other needed household items.
  • Make a plan for childcare, work, and ways to stay in touch with others. Know who will help you if you get sick.
  • Experts don't know if animals spread SARS-CoV-2. But it's always a good idea to wash your hands after touching any animals. Don't touch animals that may be sick.
  • Don’t share eating or drinking utensils with sick people.
  • Don’t kiss or hug someone who is sick.

What to do if you have been exposed to someone with COVID-19

  • Call your healthcare provider. He or she can talk with you about what to do next. Your activities and where you go may be restricted for up to 2 weeks.
  • Follow all instructions from your provider.
  • Individuals who are fully vaccinated and are at least two weeks from their second dose do not need to quarantine after exposure as long as they do not experience symptoms.
  • Take your temperature every morning and evening for at least 14 days. This is to check for fever. Keep a record of the readings.
  • Contact your work supervisor if you are well but live in the same home with someone who has COVID-19.
  • Keep watch for symptoms of the virus. Tell your provider right away if you have symptoms.
  • Stay home if you are sick for any reason.

What to do if you are sick with COVID-19 symptoms

  • Stay home. Call your healthcare provider and tell them you have symptoms of COVID-19. Do this before going to any hospital or clinic. Follow your provider's instructions. You may be advised to isolate yourself at home. This is called self-isolation or self-quarantine.
  • Stay away from work, school, and public places. Limit physical contact with family members and pets. Don't kiss anyone or share eating or drinking utensils. Clean surfaces you touch with disinfectant. This is to help prevent the virus from spreading.
  • Cough or sneeze into a tissue, then throw the tissue into the trash. If you don't have tissues, cough or sneeze into the bend of your elbow.
  • Wear a face mask. This is to protect other people from your germs. If you are not able to wear a mask, your caregivers should when you are in the same room with them. Wear the mask so that it covers both the nose and mouth.
  • If you need to go in to a hospital or clinic, expect that the healthcare staff will wear protective equipment such as masks, gowns, gloves, and eye protection. You may be put in a separate room. This is to prevent the possible virus from spreading.
  • Tell the healthcare staff about recent travel. This includes local travel on public transport. Staff may need to find other people you have been in contact with.
  • Follow all instructions the healthcare staff give you.


Next Steps
Contact Us
Coronavirus Helpline
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