Protect Yourself and Others
COVID-19 vaccines are safe, effective, and free. Everyone 5 years and older is eligible for a COVID vaccine to help prevent severe symptoms (illness) that could lead to hospitalization or death. Three COVID-19 vaccines are authorized or approved for use in the United States to prevent COVID-19. Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna (COVID-19 mRNA vaccines) are preferred. You may get Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen COVID-19 vaccine in some situations. Currently (as of 1/12/22), everyone is still considered fully vaccinated two weeks after their second dose in a two-shot series, such as the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna vaccines, or two weeks after a single-dose vaccine, such as the J&J/Janssen vaccine.
COVID-19 vaccines are working well to prevent severe illness, hospitalization, and death. However, public health experts are starting to see reduced protection over time against mild and moderate disease, especially among certain populations, including people ages 65 years and older. Booster shots are recommended for everyone ages 12 and up (5 months after being fully vaccinated). The CDC and FDA approved boosters for immunocompromised children ages 5 to 11. To learn more about boosters, visit the CDC website.
- Over-the-counter self-tests can be used at home or anywhere, are easy to use, and produce rapid results. Anyone can use self-tests, regardless of vaccination status or whether they have symptoms or not.
- Consider using a self-test before joining indoor gatherings with others who are not in your household.
- A positive self-test result means that you have an infection and should avoid indoor gatherings to reduce the risk of spreading disease to someone else. Find out what to do if you are sick.
- A negative self-test result means that you may not have an infection. Repeating the test with at least 24 hours between tests will increase the confidence that you are not infected.
Ask your healthcare provider if you need help understanding your test results.
Wear a mask.
Everyone age 2 years and older who is able to medically tolerate a mask must wear a mask when indoors in a public place, regardless of vaccination status. Indoor public spaces include any common or shared space in: (1) a residential multi-unit building or (2) any nonresidential building, including but not limited to retail stores, restaurants, bars/taverns, health and fitness clubs, museums, hotels, personal services, performance venues, movie theaters, commercial buildings, event venues, healthcare settings, congregate facilities, on public transportation and in transportation hubs.
- Masks may be removed at restaurants, bars and other eating/drinking establishments if you are actively eating or drinking in one place (while seated or standing) and not moving around. Masks can also be removed for certain activities that require their removal, such as beard shaves or facials.
View the latest guidance on vaccines and masking orders in suburban Cook County here.
- A cloth mask is better than no mask, but medical or surgical masks or KN95 or N95 masks are more effective at preventing the spread of COVID and other respiratory infections. Visit the CDC website, to learn more about mask types, effectiveness and government standards.
- Do NOT touch your mask when wearing it. (If you have to touch your mask often, it doesn’t fit you properly, and you may need to find a different mask or make adjustments.)
- Wear a mask correctly and consistently for the best protection.
- Be sure to wash your hands or use hand sanitizer before putting on a mask.
For more info about masks (types, how to wear them and special considerations), visit the CDC website.
Watch your distance.
- Stay home as much as possible, especially if you’re sick or feel like you may be getting sick. Learn more about COVID-19 v.s. flu symptoms.
- Being physically distant doesn’t mean you have to be socially distant.
- Stay at least 6 feet away from others who do not live in your household, whether outdoors or indoors. Outdoors is always better than indoors. The more fresh air the better.
- Avoid crowded places and gatherings where it may be difficult to maintain a distance of 6 feet from others.
- If you cannot maintain 6 feet, definitely #MASKUP.
- Avoid contact with people who are sick.
Wash your hands.
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds especially after you have been in a public place, or after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.
- Use hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol, if soap and water are not available.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
Updated January 12, 2022, 4:19 PM