The Public Health Agency of Sweden
Updated 23 December 2022

Protect yourself and others against winter infections

During the winter, several infectious diseases spread more easily, and many people are infected with COVID-19, RSV, influenza and norovirus. Some people become seriously ill. We have gathered some information here about what you can do to reduce the risk of becoming infected and infecting others.

Stay at home when you are ill

Stay at home if you are ill with symptoms of a respiratory infection or gastroenteritis, or if you have a fever. Avoid close contact with others.

Call 1177 if you need help in assessing your symptoms or to obtain advice about where to seek medical care.

Protect yourself by getting vaccinated

For COVID-19 and influenza, vaccines offer the best protection against serious illness and death. The Public Health Agency of Sweden recommends that people in the age group 18–64 years have basic protection against COVID-19 with three doses of vaccine. We recommend that people aged 65 and over should also take COVID-19 booster doses and also get vaccinated against influenza.

There are special recommendations for people in other age groups who are at an increased risk of falling seriously ill with COVID-19 or influenza.

It is possible to get vaccinated against influenza and COVID-19 at the same time.

Wash your hands

Always wash your hands thoroughly with soap and warm water after visiting the toilet, before meals and after touching objects or surfaces that may have viruses on them. If you do not have access to soap and water, you can use hand sanitiser or some other form of hand wash, but this will not protect against all viruses and bacteria.

To protect yourself against norovirus, it is particularly important to wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water, as hand sanitiser is not sufficiently effective against this virus.

Cough and sneeze into the inside of your elbow

Cough and sneeze into the inside of your elbow or into a tissue, which you must then discard. Do not sneeze or cough straight into the air or into your hand. By using the elbow or a handkerchief as protection when coughing or sneezing, you prevent viruses from sticking to your hands or spreading in the air to other people.

Think about who you meet

If you have cold symptoms, if possible avoid meeting old people and children below six months of age. They can become seriously ill from respiratory infections. Also avoid meeting other people who are at an increased risk of becoming seriously ill with respiratory infections. This applies even if your cold symptoms are only mild.

One piece of advice for those who are in close contact with infants is to wash your hands frequently with soap and water or to use hand sanitiser, and to avoid contact with people with colds.

Further reading