The semester is in full swing, and so are common illnesses, like the flu, common cold and COVID. 

Here are some tips to help you stay healthy this semester and things to do if you end up getting sick. 


Ways to stay healthy

1. Get vaccinated

Vaccines can help your body’s immune system recognize and defend against a variety of viruses before you get infected. They can also reduce the severity of your symptoms if you end up falling ill. 

Here are two vaccines to consider getting this year: 

  • Flu: Students can get a free flu shot by scheduling an appointment at one of Medical Services’ on-campus clinics. Staff and faculty can also receive a flu shot on campus, which is free under most insurance plans. Learn more about getting a flu shot on campus. 
  • COVID: COVID vaccines will be made available at Wardenburg Health Center when supplies are stocked with the newest type of COVID vaccines. The new vaccine will be available through your insurance at Medical Services on campus, as well as local providers. 

2. Practice good hygiene

Practicing good hygiene habits can help reduce your exposure to germs and viruses and prevent the spread of illnesses. 

Here are some ways you can help yourself and others: 

  • Wash your hands regularly, especially before eating, after using the restroom and after class. Be sure to use soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds or use hand sanitizer. 
  • Remind your friends, roommates and peers to cover their coughs and sneezes, even if it’s just seasonal allergies. 
  • Wipe down commonly used surfaces in your home or residence hall, including door handles, toilets, faucets, remotes and other areas you and your roommates touch regularly. 

3. Sharing isn’t always caring

Avoid sharing personal products and utensils with others. This includes things like lip balm, food, beverages, vapes and other products. You may also choose to wear a mask to reduce your exposure to airborne illnesses. Learn more about how masks can help you stay healthy. 

4. Take care of yourself

Did you know that your immune system can be impacted by the things you do every day? 

Here are a few ways to take care of yourself this season: 

  • Sleep: Getting seven to nine hours of sleep each night can help strengthen your body and immune system against illnesses. Try creating a routine where you wake up and go to bed at the same time each night to ensure you get enough sleep. 
  • Eating habits: Eating a variety of foods regularly can help you maintain your energy and ward off viral and bacterial infections. Try adding vitamin-dense fruits and vegetables to each of your meals. 
  • Hydration: Staying hydrated can help loosen mucus and increase blood flow. Carrying a refillable water bottle and using water stations around campus is a great way to ensure you stay hydrated throughout the day. 
  • Physical activity: Staying physically active can help your body build resilience against a number of infectious diseases. Strive for at least 30 minutes of activity each day. This can include everything from walks across campus and trips to The Rec to playing yard games outside with friends. 
  • Stress: Taking time to relax and manage stress is important to keep your immune system running at full capacity. When we feel overwhelmed it can impact how we take care of ourselves and decrease our ability to fight off infections. 


What to do if you get sick

1. Stay home

Here are some more things you can do to prevent the spread of illnesses: 

  • Disinfect surfaces in your home, especially if you live with more people. 
  • Cough and sneeze into your sleeve, elbow or a tissue. 
  • Increase ventilation by opening windows. 
  • Avoid sharing utensils or personal items with roommates or friends. 
  • Wash your hands regularly. 
  • Wear a mask if you’re worried about illnesses that are airborne. 

If you live in a residence hall, you may be asked to wear a face covering, limit guests and visitors, limit gathering sizes and physically distance from other residents. Residents who are asked to self-isolate or quarantine by a health professional must comply. 

2. Inform your instructors and supervisors

If you are going to miss class or work due to an illness, give your instructors and/or supervisors a heads up.  

Reach out to your instructors directly to explain your situation, and let them know you cannot attend class. You should email them any assignments that are due, and let them know you will make up any missed coursework. If you think you may be absent for longer, you should communicate that with them and ask to discuss a plan to keep up in class.  

If you need help navigating class requirements while you’re ill, Student Support and Case Management can help you come up with a plan and connect with campus resources.  

3. Monitor your systems

Many illnesses share symptoms, and it can be hard to tell exactly what you have, especially in the early days of an infection. For instance, coughing and headaches are common between a variety of illnesses, including the flu, cold and COVID. Testing for COVID can help you narrow down the list of possible illnesses. At-home test kits are available over the counter at the Apothecary Pharmacy and at most local pharmacies.  

While you’re sick, be sure to monitor your symptoms. Most illnesses can be managed at home with basic remedies. 

Here are a few at-home remedies to try: 

  • Drink plenty of fluids like water or tea. 
  • If you are dehydrated, opt for electrolyte beverages like Gatorade or Pedialyte. 
  • Get extra rest to help your body recover. 
  • Use cough drops, gargling salt or honey sticks to relieve a sore throat. 
  • Use over-the-counter medications to help manage symptoms like nausea or diarrhea. 

Need supplies? Here are some options to get at-home remedies on campus: 

  • Pick up free illness care supplies on the third floor of Wardenburg Health Center in the Wellness Suite. 
  • Stop by the Apothecary Pharmacy to purchase COVID test kits, over-the-counter medications and prescriptions.  

If you’re unsure what to do or have additional questions, call your primary care provider or the main line at Medical Services (303-492-5101). You will be connected with a nurse at Medical Services who can discuss your symptoms and treatment options, including whether you should take care of yourself at home or seek medical care. You can also schedule free virtual appointments on-demand through AcademicLiveCare.  

It’s also important to keep in mind that there are limited treatment options for the flu and COVID. 

4. Seek emergency care if needed

If you or someone you know experiences any of these symptoms, seek emergency medical care immediately: 

  • Difficulty breathing 
  • Persistent pain or pressure on chest 
  • Sudden confusion 
  • Inability to wake or stay awake 
  • Bluish lips, face or skin 

Call 911 or head to a local emergency room. You can also contact your medical provider if you are experiencing severe symptoms and aren’t sure if you need urgent support. 


Campus resources

Medical Services

Students can call Medical Services at 303-492-5101 to discuss their symptoms and figure out a treatment plan for a variety of illnesses. 

Apothecary Pharmacy

The Apothecary Pharmacy offers over-the-counter remedies and is available to fill prescriptions as needed. 

Wellness Suite

Pick up free cold, flu and COVID care supplies at the Wellness Suite on the third floor of Wardenburg Health Center. 

Buff Boxes

Students can order free supplies to their residence hall through the Buff Box program. 

Student flu shots

Students can get a free flu vaccine on campus during drop-in hours or by appointment. 

Staff and faculty flu shots

Flu shots for CU Boulder faculty and staff will be available on campus by appointment in the Apothecary starting Monday, Sept. 25 and are free with most insurance plans. 

COVID shots

Students, staff and faculty can schedule a vaccine appointment at Medical Services, with their primary care doctor or at a local pharmacy. COVID boosters will be billed through your insurance plan. 


If you need after-hours or weekend support, students, staff and faculty can take advantage of AcademicLiveCare. This free program allows you to schedule free online medical and mental health appointments from anywhere.