Although safeguards, such as washing hands and using hand sanitizer, maintaining social distance and wearing face masks, help reduce your chances of being exposed or of spreading the virus to others, the only way to truly stop this pandemic is through widespread vaccination. Even when people are as safe as possible, the virus can still spread rapidly and lead to serious illness in large groups of people. Like infectious outbreaks of the past, such as smallpox, measles and pertussis, widespread vaccination is the most effective tool to stop the COVID-19 pandemic.