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Tips to keep healthy during cold and flu season
woman using hand sanitizer

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Early spring semester marks the beginning of cold and flu season, although what is typically called “cold and flu” now includes COVID-19 and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV).

Dr. Sharon Rabinovitz, director of Emory’s Student Health Services, recommends the following steps to help you keep healthy during this season.

Make prevention a priority

Prevention is key to keeping yourself healthy and others safe. Here are the top ways to protect yourself from catching a respiratory illness this season:

  • Practice self-care: Getting adequate sleep, maintaining balanced nutrition, managing stress and exercising regularly will support your immune system to protect you from illness and assist in a faster recovery.
  • Get vaccinated: Both the updated flu and COVID-19 vaccines are the best defense in prevention and decreasing the severity of illness for the new variants of flu and COVID-19 this year.
  • Be aware: If your friend has not been feeling well, leave your support to a text thread and give them time to isolate and recover.
  • Wear a mask: Masks are a valuable tool in preventing spread and protecting from infection. If you are under the weather or in a public space where you may be exposed to someone who is ill, mask usage is a solid defense.
  • Wash your hands: Whether it is soap and water or antibacterial sanitizer, regular hand washing prevents the spread of germs. 

If you feel sick

If you find yourself feeling unwell, there are many ways to access care at Emory.

  • For mild respiratory symptoms, access COVID-19 testing and practice home care.
  • For those at higher risk for complications related to these viruses, you must access care in a timely manner (within 72 hours) to be eligible for antivirals as decided upon by the physician or advanced practice provider.
  • For moderate or severe respiratory symptoms, access care through Student Health Services, TimelyCare or local urgent care centers.
  • For severe symptoms which include shortness of breath, chest pain, dizziness, etc., go to the local emergency room.

“Remember, everyone is responsible for mitigating the impact of illnesses on others by staying home when experiencing respiratory symptoms, especially associated with fever,” says Rabinovitz.

Before returning to your regular social schedule, be sure you meet criteria to end isolation, which include:

  • Fever-free for 24 hours without fever-reducing medication (like Advil or Tylenol)
  • Significantly improving symptoms
  • Ability to wear a mask until symptoms fully resolve (for COVID-19, the ability to wear a mask for 10 days after the day of onset of symptoms)
  • The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention continues to recommend a five-day isolation period for COVID-19 infection

If you need to miss class for illness, please follow the guidance of your school regarding absences (listed under Academic Support Resources).

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