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Contagious or not? What you need to know for fall 2023

As we move deeper into fall, the likelihood of having the flu, norovirus or COVID-19 generally increases as more members of the IU community are in very close proximity indoors for work and class.

IU Today recently talked to Chief Health Officer Aaron Carroll — whose office has shifted to become part of the Office of the Vice President for Student Success — to help you prepare for this fall.

Question: What should I do if I’m sick?

Answer: Monitor your symptoms, isolate yourself if you believe you’re contagious and contact a health care provider if your symptoms get worse instead of better. Make sure you’re washing your hands well and often, regardless of if you’re sick. Most importantly, if you’re sick, do not go to class or come into the office. That is always the best tool we have at our disposal for helping reduce the spread of germs to others.

I would also suggest you get an annual seasonal flu vaccine. The university expects to offer flu vaccine clinics as usual this fall; more details about those will be available soon.

In addition to flu, new COVID-19 boosters and a new RSV vaccine will also likely be released and recommended. While the university may not offer clinics for those vaccines on campus, our office will work to ensure everyone has information about what the recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are, that they know if and when they should get one and where they can do so.

If you need a COVID-19 test, they are available over the counter at many stores. Please note: IU employees can use their Health Savings Account to pay for tests.

Q: Where can I find the university’s information and guidance about communicable disease?

A: All of the university’s information is located in one spot on the Protect IU website, including information about the flu, norovirus, measles, Mpox, pertussis (also known as whooping cough) and COVID-19.

Resources include lists of common symptoms, details about transmission and prevention, and links to resources from, among others, the Indiana Department of Health and the CDC.

Q: Do I need to tell the university if I have COVID-19?

A: Yes, we ask that staff, faculty and students voluntarily report a positive diagnosis, both so the university can provide guidance and to assist students who live in on-campus housing with isolation.

The COVID-19 page on the Protect IU site has links to both the reporting form and also a way for students to voluntarily report their vaccine or booster shot.

Q: What about masks?

A: Masking is optional, and I encourage anyone who wants to protect themselves or others to do so with the best mask they can. It’s also a good idea to mask around others who may be vulnerable to one of these illnesses if you believe you might be contagious.