University learner supplies

Back to Basics

Jakub Tolar, MD, PhD, Campus Public Health Officer

We want everyone to have a safe and healthy fall semester (and life in general). Here’s what you need to know right now:

1. What can I do to avoid getting COVID-19?

Glad you’re thinking that way! Your best lines of defense are:

  • Getting vaccinated and boosted: The COVID-19 bivalent “updated” boosters that offer protection against the Omicron variants are now available. Check the Minnesota Department of Health’s Vaccine Connector for more information about where to find these boosters and watch your email for announcements of when boosters become available on campus. You must have completed the initial sequence of vaccination to receive the booster.
  • Wearing masks: Correctly wearing a high-quality mask (cloth and surgical masks do not provide adequate protection) still provides a good first line of defense, particularly in crowded conditions and indoors. Students can request free masks at all University residence halls and apartments, and in the Twin Cities at Rec Well, and Student Unions. Units can order masks through UMarket.

2. I’ve already had COVID-19. Doesn’t that protect me?

Per the CDC: Having a previous infection with the virus that causes COVID-19 offers some protection from future illness; however, people who have had previous infections can still be reinfected and get severe COVID-19, especially if their previous infection was months ago or with a different variant (e.g., Delta variant). It is important to protect yourself (see question 1 above) while you are recovering, as the risks of serious complications and long COVID may increase with each infection. Also, with the Omicron variants, we are seeing reinfection occur more often and more quickly than with “original” COVID-19.

3. I feel sick. What do I do?

  • Put on your mask to protect others.
  • Get tested. Statewide testing information is here.
  • Positive or negative, take care of yourself and seek medical help if needed.
  • If positive, follow CDC guidelines that include staying home and isolating from others for the first five days you are sick.
  • After you have recovered, you should consider masking to protect yourself from reinfection (see question 2 above).

4. Can I get a flu shot at the same time I get my COVID-19 booster?

Yes, please do! Experts are recommending getting your flu shot as soon as possible this year. In the Twin Cities, the vaccine is available at Boynton Health Pharmacy, Gopher Quick Clinic, or one of the Flu Vaccine Clinics. It should be widely available at pharmacies and clinics throughout the state.

5. What about monkeypox?

Make sure you are aware of how the virus can be transmitted and continue to use caution.

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Please take a moment to think about what you can do to prepare to protect yourself and the people around you.