Core Guidance for COVID-19

COVID-19 facts and how you can to protect yourself and your community.

Get a flu vaccine during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

We need to stop the spread of flu so that our healthcare workers have time to care for COVID-19 patients.  Check with your provider to schedule a flu vaccine, or get a free or low-cost flu vaccine from the City. Frequent hand washing, wearing face masks, and social distancing also help to prevent both the flu and COVID-19.

How can I protect myself against COVID-19?

Be up-to-date on vaccination. 

This means, get vaccinated as soon as you can, and get boosted as soon as you are eligible! Vaccination remains the most effective way to protect yourself and others. Boosters are strongly recommended for everyone 12 years old or older.

Wear a well-fitting mask. 

An N95 is best and a surgical mask is good, but a cloth mask that fits well and has at least three layers is better than no mask. Cover your mouth and nose with a mask when indoors and close to people who don’t live in your household. If you are not up-to-date on vaccinations, it is especially important for you to wear a mask.

Stay aware.

Masking is even more important for everyone when lots of people in our community are getting COVID-19, and it is often required by state and local public health orders to stop the spread. Stay up-to-date on how much COVID-19 there is in our community and when and where the most current health orders say you should mask.

Be outside whenever you can. 

Outdoors is much safer than indoors. Avoid crowded, poorly ventilated indoor activities, especially if you are not up-to-date on vaccination, are at risk of severe illness from COVID-19, or if you live with or could expose someone who is at risk of severe illness from COVID-19.

Keep an eye on your health. 

Pay attention to fevers, cough, shortness of breath, or other symptoms. If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, follow guidance for staying home, seek medical care when necessary, and get tested.

Wash your hands often with soap and water. 

If soap and water are not available, use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.

What should I know about the COVID-19 vaccine?

The vaccine really helps prevent serious illness and death.

Vaccines for COVID-19 work. They are safe and free. The vaccine is one of the most important ways to end the pandemic because it is excellent at protecting you from getting very sick or dying.

The vaccine really helps hospitals.

Being up-to-date on your vaccines can help keep our hospitals working well, and not overloaded, so that hospitals can care for people with other emergencies, like heart attacks.

The vaccine is safe.

The FDA, CDC, and California’s own Scientific Safety Review Workgroup have reviewed data from clinical trials to ensure the safety and effectiveness of COVID-19 vaccines.

We recommend it!

SFDPH strongly encourages everyone who is eligible to get vaccinated, and to get a booster as soon as soon as is recommended. Find out more about vaccines and boosters, including where and when to get them at:


When do I need to get tested?

If you have been exposed to COVID-19 or have COVID-19 symptoms, follow SFDPH guidelines for quarantine. Find out about your COVID-19 testing options and get tested. Ask for medical care if you need it.

What happens if I test positive?

Follow SFDPH guidelines for isolation. Keep an eye on your symptoms and ask for medical care if you need it. There are resources to help with isolation or quarantine, if you need them.

What changes when I am up-to-date on vaccination?

Your risk of going to the hospital or dying is MUCH less. 

People who are up-to-date on vaccination (this means they have gotten all of their recommended COVID-19 vaccines—including boosters—when they were eligible) have a much lower risk of hospitalization and death from COVID-19.

You still need to follow guidance to protect others.

People who are up-to-date on vaccination still need to follow state and local health orders and any guidance from workplaces and local businesses. 

You can still get infected.

People who are up-to-date on vaccination can still get infected with COVID-19. If you are up-to-date on vaccination and have COVID-19 symptoms or were a close contact to someone with COVID-19, follow guidance for isolation, quarantine, and testing.

Should I check temperatures and COVID symptoms at the door?


SFDPH does not require this because it has not been very helpful in preventing the spread of COVID-19.

Everyone should monitor themselves for COVID-19 symptoms or exposures.

Employers should ask employees to check for symptoms before coming to work. If they have symptoms, they should isolate, get tested, and get medical care if they need it. 

Some high-risk settings may still be required to screen. 

Organizations may also choose to continue screening. If you screen, do it safely and with respect, and make sure you are following privacy laws. For additional resources see

How can I improve ventilation?

Good ventilation = less spread!

You can open windows and doors to bring in fresh air from outside, but only when health and safety allow. Do not prop open fire doors and make sure that open windows do not pose a fall risk for children.

Set HVAC to take in outdoor air.

Try not to recirculate indoor air. An HVAC professional can check your system to make sure that it is working properly and to see if it can use better filters. If you can, keep your ventilation going even when the building is not being used.

HEPA helps

You may also use portable air cleaners (“HEPA filters”), especially where the ventilation is not good. Fans can also help, but make sure that the fan is not blowing the air from one person to another.

For more information about ventilation, see California Department of Public Health’s Ventilation guidance.

Last updated May 19, 2022