Symptoms and Prevention


Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) is a respiratory illness that can spread from person to person. Symptoms can include:

  • Fever or chills
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
  • Fatigue
  • Muscle or body aches
  • Headache
  • New loss of taste or smell
  • Sore throat
  • Congestion or runny nose
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Diarrhea

This list does not include all possible symptoms. The symptoms may appear in as few as two days or as long as 14 days after exposure. Reported illnesses have ranged from people with little to no symptoms to people being severely ill and dying.  Individuals most at risk for severe symptoms include elderly individuals and those with pre-existing conditions. 


COVID-19 vaccines are effective at protecting you from getting sick. Based on what we know about COVID-19 vaccines, people who have been fully vaccinated can do things that they had stopped doing because of the pandemic. Everyone aged 12 years and older should get a COVID-19 vaccination as soon as possible. They are widely accessible in the United States and are available for everyone at no cost. Learn more about how you can get a COVID-19 vaccine here.

If you are not vaccinated, the best way to prevent infection is to avoid being exposed to the virus that causes COVID-19. You can do this through social distancing and mask-wearing to reduce contact and therefore prevent the spread of the virus. For more information about preventing the spread of COVID-19 when you are not vaccinated, you can go here.