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A virus spreads quickly if it is an airborne virus like the COVID-19, which means it spreads when people who are sick with the virus don’t cover their face when they are around others. The virus can be suspended in the air long enough to reach others, even if they aren’t standing close. Sometimes it can also be spread when the virus is on an infected person’s hands or something they have touched.
Once a vaccine is made, an epidemic can be controlled. For example, the flu killed millions in the early 1900s before a vaccine was produced. Now it is easily controlled if people get the flu shot once a year and stay out of public places when they are sick. The U.S. and other parts of the world are seeing a decline in new and severe cases of COVID-19 as more and more people get the vaccine.
The best thing you can do to keep from getting COVID-19 is the same as what you would do to avoid any other airborne virus.
The CDC and other experts have websites with advice on preventing the spread of airborne viruses:
While COVID-19 is getting a lot of media attention, flu is still a big worry in the U.S. It spreads quickly, in part because many people don’t get the flu shot each year.
The flu shot is covered by your health insurance as preventive care*. That means you won’t pay anything when you get your shot. Your health plan covers all the cost. Many pharmacies give flu shots, as do most doctor’s offices.
Originally published 2/19/2020; Revised 2022, 2023
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