11 things to remember for college this year
Throughout the pandemic, young people have made great sacrifices, but the prospects for the coming academic year are exciting thanks to the Covid-19 vaccine program that has seen the relaxation of national restrictions.
Here is some important information for students entering or returning to university this year:
1) Get both doses of a Covid-19 vaccine.
A vaccination protects you and those around you.
Two doses of a vaccine are the most protective. So make sure you get your second dose, which should be around 8 to 12 weeks after your first one.
You don’t have to take both doses in the same place. You can arrange your second dose through the booking service at www.nhs.uk/covidvaccine or by taking a local walk to the clinic 8 weeks after your first dose. So that you can take your second dose while you are away from university, you can find a local walk at the vaccination center here.
So far, around two thirds of 18 to 29 year olds in England have received at least one dose.
2) Get all of your jabs – Covid-19 is not the only infectious disease
Make sure you are up to date on all of your vaccinations, including MMR and MenACWY. These vaccines protect against measles, mumps, and rubella, as well as some common types of meningococcal meningitis (swelling of the meninges) and septicemia (blood poisoning). You can easily book this with your family doctor. These infections tend to spread early in the college semester as many new people get close together.
3) Register with a family doctor at your semester address
If you are going to a university that is not in your hometown, make sure to register with your new GP as soon as possible. This allows you to quickly access emergency care and health services while you are away from home.
The health center attached to your university is probably the most convenient and the doctors working there are experienced with the health needs of students. Find your local GP practice to sign up.
Registering with a GP also means you’ll have access to the NHS app to prove your full vaccination status so you don’t miss a thing.
4) Take a test before you go to college and get tested further
Before you go to university, do a Covid-19 rapid test at home with a lateral flow device (LFD). It’s free, quick, and easy, and you can order it online through the NHS. Once at university, take two LFD tests on site or at home every week and report all of your results online NHS test and trace or by phone at 119.
Regular testing means you can know if you have COVID-19 early on and make sure you don’t pass it on to others.
Keep in mind that around 1 in 3 people with Covid-19 will have no symptoms. Regular LFD testing can help uncover hidden cases of the virus that would otherwise go undetected.
5) Do a PCR test if you have close contact or symptoms
If you are under 18 and 6 months old or fully vaccinated, you no longer need to self-isolate if you are identified as a close contact on a positive case as long as you have no symptoms. However, you should do a PCR test (on-line(via the NHS COVID-19 app or by calling 119) to make sure you are not infected. While waiting for the results, you should also consider reducing your social contacts and avoiding contact with people who are extremely at risk. It is also advisable to wear a mask indoors.
If you develop coronavirus symptoms – a new and persistent cough, fever, or lost your sense of taste or smell, book a PCR test right away and stay home until you get your result.
PCR tests are free and accessible and can be obtained by calling 119 or via the GOV.uk website.
6) Keep wearing face covering
Even if it is no longer required by law, there is still an advantage to be had wear a face covering in certain situations – do not forget that they help to protect those around you. Wearing one in crowded and enclosed spaces where you come into contact with people you normally don’t meet, such as on public transport, is a sensible and easy way to reduce the risk of the virus spreading and to protect those at risk.
7) Ventilate the interior
Remember that the virus spreads much less easily outdoors. Therefore, whenever possible, meet up with friends outdoors to reduce the chance of contracting the virus or passing it on to others. If you meet indoors, opening windows and doors is the easiest way to improve ventilation. The more fresh air you take in, the less likely you are to get infected or pass the virus on.
8) Wash your hands and take hand sanitizer with you
Don’t forget the basics – keep them wash your hands regularly for 20 seconds and have a hand sanitizer with you. This is especially important when you get home and before and after using public transport.
9) Use the NHS COVID-19 App and NHS COVID Pass
If you’re 16 years or older, you can NHS COVID app to be informed of what is happening near you, book a PCR or LFD test, use a QR code to visit places and be notified when you are in close contact so that you can keep track of the spread of the virus can stop.
Also make sure to download the NHS COVID passport to prove your full vaccination status so you don’t miss a thing and don’t have to self-isolate if you are identified as a close contact.
10) Get regular tests for STIs
Nobody wants to trade social distancing for an STI, and as we enjoy the fact that national Covid-19 restrictions have been lifted, it is important that we continue to care about our sexual health and wellbeing. If you have sex with new or casual partners, use a condom and get tested – STIs can have serious consequences for your own health and that of your current or future sexual partners.
11) Mental health support is available
It was undoubtedly a difficult time for many students. The online resource at Student area has a variety of useful mental health and wellbeing materials that can aid you and others. Public Health England also provides resources to support the mental health and wellbeing of young people here.
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