Protect Yourself & Others

Protect Yourself & Others

family wearing masks while grocery shopping

Vaccines are the best tool we have to protect ourselves against COVID-19, especially from severe illness, hospitalization and death. Vermont's high vaccination rates mean the vast majority of Vermonters are protected from the virus, which also helps keep the virus from spreading to others. 

Unvaccinated people are at a much higher risk of getting and spreading the virus. We strongly encourage everyone who is eligible to protect themselves by getting vaccinated as soon as possible, and get their booster shot for added protection when eligible. See where you can get your shot.

Cases of COVID-19 in Vermont remain high, in large part because the Delta variant spreads from person to person much faster, and more easily than the original strain of the virus. This means everyone should follow these basic prevention steps:

  • Get vaccinated as soon as you are eligible
  • Get your booster shot, and encourage high risk family members and friends to do the same
  • Stay home if you feel sick
  • Get tested if you have any symptoms, may be a close contact, or have taken part in activities that could put you at risk, such as large gatherings or travel
  • Wear a mask in indoor public settings
  • Take care when getting together
  • Wash your hands regularly
  • Get your flu shot

Tips for Celebrating Holidays Safely

five people gathered around tableHave “the talk,” before you go. Find out whether people will be fully vaccinated, or if extra precautions need to be taken for anyone at higher risk, such as wearing a mask when you’re not eating. The more people who are vaccinated around your table, the safer everyone will be. 

Keep it small. The more people and households, the higher the chance that someone could have the virus and expose other people. Even people you trust the most can have the virus and not know it. 

Get tested. Testing before you gather is a great way to protect everyone. You can get extra reassurance with a rapid test, closer to the gathering. At-home tests you can buy at a pharmacy are a good tool for this, if you have access to them. They typically come in boxes of two, so if you use them, we recommend using onea day or two before you gather and the other the same day you will be gathering — to make sure your negative result is accurate.  

If you have symptoms, even mild ones, please make the hard, but right, choice to skip the dinner and stay home. 

Get tested 5-7 days after the holiday gathering, even if you’re fully vaccinated and even if you don’t have any symptoms. 


Prevention steps help protect people most at risk

Following the prevention steps is even more important if:

  • you have a weakened immune system or are around someone who does
  • you will be getting together with older adults or those with significant underlying medical conditions that put them at high risk for serious illness from COVID-19
  • you have children who can’t yet be vaccinated
  • you’re traveling to a place with high transmission and low vaccination rates

Wearing a mask

The Health Department also currently recommends wearing a mask in public indoor settings because a significant number of Vermonters remain unvaccinated and the more transmissible Delta variant is still spreading.

The need to wear a mask indoors is expected to be temporary, while vaccination levels increase and the Delta variant surge ends.

Wearing a mask helps protect you and the people around you from getting or spreading COVID-19. A mask helps contain your respiratory droplets and can keep them from reaching other people. COVID-19 can spread even if a person does not have any symptoms. This is how we reduce spread of the virus and outbreaks in our communities, schools and businesses.

Keep gatherings safe

Vermont data shows COVID-19 is often spreading when people get together with friends and family, dinners, parties or other social activities and events. It’s important to think about how to gather safely right now. This can reduce the potential for further spread of the virus, especially to those at higher risk of COVID-19. Here are some ways to keep gatherings safer:

  • Stay outdoors when you can
  • Keep groups small
  • If you’re indoors, wear a mask in public settings or around people who may be at higher risk
  • Avoid crowded spaces
  • Consider getting tested before and after an event, especially if it includes older adults or those with significant underlying medical conditions that put them at high risk for serious illness from COVID-19

How to Protect Yourself from covid-19 in नेपाली (Nepali), Soomaali (Somali)   

TIPS ON Prevention Steps

Get the COVID-19 vaccine

Why – The vaccine is the best way to keep from getting and spreading COVID-19. Vaccines help your body fight off the virus and keep you from getting sick. The more people who get vaccinated, the faster we can end the COVID-19 pandemic. When you are fully vaccinated, you do not need to quarantine after being in close contact with someone with COVID-19.

How – All three vaccines are safe and are working in the real world. Studies show them to be more than 90% effective in real-world settings in preventing mild and severe disease, hospitalization and death. The vaccines have also proven to be effective against the COVID-19 variants that are currently circulating. Read more about the vaccines available in Vermont.

When – All people 12 years and older can find a location to get a vaccine. Vaccine trials are underway for children under 12. Learn more about vaccines for children.

TIP Find out where to get a vaccine at

Things You Should Know About COVID-19 Vaccines
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Find out About COVID-19 Vaccines in Vermont

Stay home if you are sick

Why – Staying home keeps illness from spreading to others.

How – Cancel your plans and stay home from work. Let your friends, family or neighbors know you are not feeling well. Ask if they are willing to drop off food, prescriptions or other things you need while you recover.

When – Do this any time you have symptoms of COVID-19 or other illnesses.

TIP Make a plan now for what to do if you or someone in your house gets sick.

Wash your hands

Why – Washing your hands or using hand sanitizer rinses off or kills germs you may have on them. This lowers your risk of getting infected with a virus if you touch your face, nose or eyes. If you are sick (even if you don’t know yet), washing your hands lowers the risk of spreading your germs to others when touching shared surfaces, such as doorknobs.

How – Wash with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.

When – Any time, but it is especially important after going to the bathroom, after being in a public place, before eating, and after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing. Also wash your hands any times they are visibly dirty.

TIP Keep hand sanitizer in your car, bag or attach a travel-sized, clip-on sanitizer to your key chain so you always have it with you.

Take care when getting together

Why – Even though more than 84% of eligible Vermonters are vaccinated, there are some people who cannot get vaccinated. We need to continue to do all we can to protect children under the age of 12 and people who are not able to get the vaccine due to a weakened immune system or other health condition.

COVID-19 spreads when an infected person breathes out droplets and very small particles that contain the virus. Unvaccinated people who are closer than 6 feet from a person with COVID-19 are most likely to get infected.

How – The Health Department currently recommends wearing a mask in public indoor settings. For increased protection, choose open areas where there is room to spread out. Keep a distance of at least 6 feet to lower the risk of droplets and particles that carry virus reaching you and others when a person with COVID-19 coughs, sneezes sings, talks or breathes. This is typically easier to do if there are fewer people and you are outdoors.

When – Continue to take care when getting together with friends and family or when you are in a crowd.

Wear a mask

Why – Wearing a mask helps protect you and the people around you from getting or spreading COVID-19. A mask helps contain your respiratory droplets and can keep them from reaching other people. COVID-19 can spread even if a person does not have any symptoms.

If you are fully vaccinated, it is still possible to get and transmit the virus. Health Department currently recommends wearing a mask when you are in public indoor settings, because a significant portion of the population remains unvaccinated and the more transmissible Delta variant is spreading.

How – Bring a mask with you when you leave home. 

How to Select, Clean and Wear Your Face Mask (CDC)
Improve How Your Mask Protects You (CDC)

When – The Health Department currently recommends wearing a mask in public indoor settings. For schools, child care and out-of-school programs, the Health Department recommends that unvaccinated people 2 years and older wear masks when inside.

If you're gathering with people indoors, wearing a mask and staying 6 feet apart helps protect anyone who is unvaccinated, at increased risk of severe illness from COVID-19, or lives with someone who is at increased risk. Read the CDC's tips on how to carpool safely.

TIP Store your face masks with your keys, phone or wallet so it's easier to remember, keep an extra in your coat pocket, bag or car just in case.

Wear a Face Mask to Keep COVID-19 from Spreading
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Guidance on Mask Exemptions in Children and Adolescents

Consider your travel plans

Why – The CDC recommends delaying travel until you are fully vaccinated, because travel increases your chance of getting and spreading COVID-19.

How – Except for international travel, travel no longer requires testing or quarantine. Federal regulations require masks on public transportation

When – If you travel to places with a lot of virus circulating or spend time with people who do, consider getting tested and following prevention steps, even if you are vaccinated.

If you are traveling to Canada, check CDC’s travel notices for Canada and read Canada’s entry restrictions.

If you are planning on traveling internationally, check the current list of Travel Advisories by country from the U.S. Department of State, and visit for detailed information on safe international travel. See the CDC's guidance on testing and international travel.

Visit the CDC’s travel page for travel recommendations by country and see the FAQs for Travelers.

For all international travel, follow the CDC’s after travel guidance when you return to the U.S.


In This Section

Find out about who may be at more risk for severe illness, or more vulnerable to getting sick. Learn about precautions.

Navigating the new norms or rules in our professional and personal lives can be challenging, and our responses to it are varied.