COVID-19 spreads in three main ways:
- Breathing in air when close to an infected person who is exhaling small droplets and particles that contain the virus.
- Through the eyes, nose, or mouth, especially through splashes and sprays like a cough or sneeze.
- Touching eyes, nose, or mouth with hands that have the virus on them.
People with COVID-19 have reported a wide range of symptoms – from mild symptoms to severe illness. Symptoms may appear 2-14 days after exposure to the virus. If you have a fever, cough, or other symptoms, you might have COVID-19.
Anyone infected with COVID-19 can spread it, even if they do not have symptoms.
What You Need to Know About Variants
Viruses constantly change through mutation, and new variants of a virus are expected to occur. Sometimes new variants emerge and disappear. Other times, new variants persist. All variants of the virus that causes COVID-19 are being tracked in the United States and globally during this pandemic.
Top Things You Need to Know:
- Variants are expected. The best way to slow the emergence of new variants is to reduce the spread of infection by taking measures to protect yourself, including getting a COVID-19 vaccine when available.
- Vaccines can keep you from getting sick, being hospitalized, or dying from COVID-19.
- All COVID-19 tests can detect all variants, but they will not tell you which variant you have.
COVID-19 vaccines are effective at preventing infection, serious illness, and death. Most people who get COVID-19 are unvaccinated. However, since vaccines are not 100% effective at preventing infection, some people who are fully vaccinated will still get COVID-19. An infection of a fully vaccinated person is referred to as a “vaccine breakthrough infection.”
What We Know about Vaccine Breakthrough Infections:
- Vaccine breakthrough infections are expected. COVID-19 vaccines are effective at preventing most infections. However, like other vaccines, they are not 100% effective.
- Fully vaccinated people with a vaccine breakthrough infection are less likely to develop serious illness than those who are unvaccinated and get COVID-19.
- Even when fully vaccinated people develop symptoms, they tend to be less severe symptoms than in unvaccinated people. This means they are much less likely to be hospitalized or die than people who are not vaccinated.
- People who get vaccine breakthrough infections can be contagious.