Fall and winter are prime times for seasonal illnesses like colds and flu – and college students are prime candidates for exposure. Close living quarters, classes and group activities are just some of the ways illnesses can spread. But, with full schedules of classwork, exams, activities, work and social lives, students sometimes put caring for their health and wellness at the bottom of their ‘to-do’ list.
University Health Services (UHS) is here to help, with services and resources to help students become active participants in their healthcare. Parents and family also play an important role, by sharing tips and information. A great place to start is the UHS website , for detailed information about healthcare at UMass Amherst.
Encourage your student to practice the basics of good health, like these:
Get vaccinated. UHS offers flu vaccination for students, their dependents, faculty and staff. Clinics are held at the health center and locations around campus beginning each fall; the UHS website has schedule information. Vaccinations are also available by appointment. Your student can make an appointment by calling (413) 577-5101, or ask to be vaccinated at a previously scheduled appointment. Costs are billed to your student’s health insurance; remind them to bring their insurance plan ID card with them.
- Cover. Use a tissue to cover your nose and mouth when coughing or sneezing.Clean. Wash hands often with soap and clean, warm, running water. Alcohol-based hand sanitizers are a good choice if hands aren’t visibly dirty.
- Hands off. Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth; germs spread easily this way.
- Don’t share. Keep things like drinking glasses, bottles and utensils to yourself.
- Keep your distance. Avoid close contact with people who have, or who recently had, a cold or the flu.
- Stay strong. Eat well, drink water, get plenty of sleep and be physically active. Alcohol, other drugs and smoking can weaken the immune system.
About colds and flu
- Typical cold symptoms include fever, sore throat, headache, a stuffy nose and cough; these can last from a few days to several weeks.
- Flu symptoms usually start with high fever, shaking chills and intense muscle aches, followed by headache, stuffy nose, sore throat, cough and weakness.
- Colds and flu are viral illnesses. Antibiotics don’t treat viruses and won’t work against colds or flu.
- In a life-threatening emergency, always call 911.
- For help deciding if they need to be seen, or if they have health questions, students can call UHS’ Triage Advice Nurse, (413) 577-5229, during health center hours. After-hours medical and mental health advice is available by calling (413) 577-5000.
- Call (413) 577-5101 to schedule an appointment at UHS. Same-day appointments may be available.
- UHS’ Walk-in Care offers patients the option to wait where they’re most comfortable. Text “clinic” to (413) 944-8562. They’ll receive a response text with a number, and a reminder text when it’s almost their turn to be seen. Or, just come in during clinic hours.
- The UHS Pharmacy fills prescriptions and sells over-the-counter medications, personal care items, snacks and cold beverages at student-friendly prices. Learn more online  or call (413) 577-5030.
- The UHS Shuttle provides free rides from residence halls to the main UHS building at 150 Infirmary Way. Call (413) 577-7425. Same-day rides can be scheduled until a half-hour before closing time; check the UHS website  for current hours. To schedule a ride up to two business days ahead, call weekdays, 7 a.m. – 5 p.m.
- UMass Dining Services offers “get well meals.” Students can request them from their Dining Commons manager: www.umassdining.com .