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 (see the latest vaccine guidelines from the CDC), wearing a mask, practicing physical distancing, washing your hands frequently and avoiding crowds. Read more tips below.

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:

  • Take safety precautions according to the level of COVID-19 in your community. Find out your county’s COVID-19 level here
  • 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.
  • If someone in your home has tested positive for COVID-19, follow the CDC’s instructions for cleaning and disinfection.  
  • 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.
  • Where community COVID-19 level is high, the CDC advises wearing a face mask in public, regardless of vaccination status. 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.
  • 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

If you are unvaccinated:

  • Quarantine (stay home) for 5 days
  • If no symptoms develop, you may return to school or other activities on day 6
  • Wear a well-fitted mask for 5 more days (days 6-10)

If you are vaccinated:

Individuals who are up-to-date on COVID-19 vaccines (have received a booster shot or completed a Pfizer or Moderna primary vaccine series within the last six months, or received a single dose of J&J vaccine within the last two months):

  • Do not need to quarantine
  • Wear a well-fitted mask for 10 days

Regardless of vaccination status:

  • 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.

Follow CDC guidelines for more details about what to do if you’ve been exposed to COVID-19.

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. Follow your provider's instructions. You may be advised to isolate yourself at home. This is called self-isolation.
  • 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.
  • Follow all instructions the healthcare staff give you.


Next Steps
Contact Us
Coronavirus Helpline
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COVID-19 Resources for Parents

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Division of Infectious Diseases

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