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gramma and grandaughter together washing hands

Seasonal illnesses—COVID-19, flu and RSV—can spread year-round, but are most common in the fall and winter months.

All 3 are serious for pregnant people, older adults and immunocompromised people of all ages. Flu and RSV can be serious in babies and young children. Most people will recover on their own, but severe cases can overwhelm our hospitals. 

The steps you took during the pandemic are still our best protection against these illnesses.

Prevent illness every day

  • Stay home when you’re sick. Avoid being around sick people.
  • Watch for symptoms, especially if you have been around someone who is sick.
  • Wash hands often.
  • Clean and disinfect high-touch items (doorknobs, phones, TV remotes)
  • Get tested if you have COVID-19 symptoms.
  • Get a flu shot every year, and COVID-19 shots and boosters.

During respiratory illness season

Help keep kids in school, avoid missing work or gatherings, and keep our hospitals running smoothly when illness is spreading: 

  • Wear a mask indoors or in crowds.
  • Delay visits with people who are at higher risk for severe disease, or add layers of protection such as masks and physical distance when you are around them.
  • Hold smaller, outdoor gatherings.
  • Open windows and doors for improved ventilation.

If you are at higher risk for severe illness

Stay in touch with your provider. If you don’t have a provider, call 211 for help finding one. Your provider may recommend that you wear a mask or take other precautions. If you get sick, they can help you decide if you need to get tested or get treatment. 

If you get sick

Most people recover from respiratory illnesses on their own. Stay home and do the things you usually do to feel better: sleep, rest, drink plenty of fluids. 

Learn more about signs and symptoms of flu, COVID-19 and RSV.

If you are sick, but must be around others

  • Wear a mask that fits well over your nose and mouth.
  • Wash your hands often, especially after blowing your nose.
  • Cover your cough with a tissue or your sleeve.
  • Keep some distance from others if you can.
  • Improve room ventilation around others, for example by opening a window.

When can you be around others?

You can return to work, school, and other activities when you:

  • You have been without a fever for at least 24 hours without use of fever-reducing medications, and
  • Symptoms are better, and
  • You can eat and drink okay, and
  • Your runny nose and cough are mild enough that you can participate in activities and keep your hands clean.

Consider wearing a mask around others until your runny nose and cough are gone.

Things to do before you get sick

Comparing the different illnesses





Spreads easily through the air 


Spreads through mucus droplets from someone’s nose or mouth 




Can live on hard and soft surfaces and spread by touching these surfaces



A vaccine is available



Can be higher risk for pregnant, older adults, and immunocompromised people




Can be higher risk for babies and children




Coping with Seasonal Illnesses (222.92 KB)