COVID-19: Frequently Asked Health Questions

Last Updated: September 21, 2021

The following frequently asked questions relate to health and well-being. If you are looking for FAQ's related to UNH operations, academics, etc. please visit the UNH Frequently Asked Questions page.

Important to Know

  • All members of the Durham community—students, faculty and staff—are required to wear a face covering in all indoor campus spaces except when eating, in private offices, or in personal residence hall rooms. The requirement applies to everyone, vaccinated and unvaccinated. This includes classrooms, hallways, elevators, restrooms, break rooms, entries and exits to buildings, laboratories, Library spaces, meeting rooms, and shared offices and work areas.
  • COVID-19 vaccination is the best thing you can do to protect yourself and others from serious illness, hospitalization and death. Even if you have already had COVID infection, vaccination provides additional and more comprehensive protection against reinfection.
  • If you have already been vaccinated, please let us know by uploading proof of your vaccination to our secure MyHealth&Wellness portal. The information you provide will be confidential and used only for the purpose of confirming your vaccination status, consistent with our Notice of Privacy Practices.
  • If you have close contact with someone who has COVID-19, you should take extra precautions (mask-wearing, physical distancing, avoiding crowds, etc.), and get tested.
    • Vaccinated individuals should test 3-5 days after exposure, then resume your usual UNH testing schedule.
    • Unvaccinated individuals can test 5 days or later after exposure, while continuing their twice weekly testing schedule.
    • Refer to the UNH Isolation and Quarantine Policy for guidance on quarantine and isolation requirements.
    • Refer to the glossary section below for information regarding household vs. non-household close contact definitions.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do the COVID-19 vaccines work?

  1. A vaccinated person is less likely to catch the disease (this is known as “efficacy”).
  2. The vaccine provides protection against severe cases, meaning if you were to catch COVID after being vaccinated, you would be less likely to require hospitalization or be at risk of severe illness and/or death. Research shows all vaccines do this well.

Are some vaccines better than others? Should I wait to get the best one?

The CDC does not recommend one vaccination over another. Most importantly, all of the vaccines (Moderna, Pfizer, and Johnson & Johnson) are safe and help to prevent serious illness and death. A very rare condition called thrombosis with thrombocytopenia syndrome (TTS) has been found to occur with the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, primarily in women between 18 and 49 years old. This risk has not been found in the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines.

Are there side effects I should worry about? Could the vaccine give me COVID?

Vaccination will not give you COVID, since none of the vaccines carry live virus.

You may experience some side effects. These are normal signs that your body is building protection. “The most common side effects are pain and swelling in the arm where you received the shot. In addition, you may have fever, chills, tiredness, and headache. These side effects may affect your ability to do daily activities, but they should go away in a few days. Learn more about what to expect after getting a COVID-19 vaccine.” (CDC)

It is important to know that it is possible to get COVID-19 soon after you’ve been vaccinated because it takes a few weeks for the body to build immunity. This means that it’s especially important to keep following public health guidelines while you are in between doses of the vaccine and after 2 weeks have passed since your second dose.

What does it mean to be fully vaccinated?

People are considered fully vaccinated:

  • 2 weeks after their second dose in a 2-dose series, such as the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines, or
  • 2 weeks after a single-dose vaccine, such as Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen vaccine

If you don’t meet these requirements, you are NOT fully vaccinated. The CDC recommends individuals keep taking all precautions until they are fully vaccinated.

If you have a condition or are taking medication that weakens your immune system, you may NOT be fully protected even if you are fully vaccinated. Talk to your healthcare provider. Even after vaccination, you may need to continue taking all precautions.

What can I do once I’m fully vaccinated?

The CDC continually updates its guidelines for those who have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19. With new variants emerging, like the highly contagious Delta variant, you should keep taking precautions in public places like wearing a mask, staying 6 feet apart from others, and avoiding crowds and poorly ventilated spaces in areas of substantial COVID transmission.

Read the full guidance here about what vaccinated folks are and are not recommended to do.

If I’ve already had COVID-19, do I still need to get vaccinated?

Yes, it is highly recommended. There isn’t enough evidence to know how long you carry antibodies after being infected with the virus. It is also possible to get re-infected with COVID-19 after you’ve already had it, especially given the new variants that have emerged.

The best way to protect yourself from COVID-19 infection or re-infection is to get vaccinated.

How and where can I get vaccinated?

COVID-19 vaccinations are free and widely available to all individuals over the age of 12. To find a vaccination location near UNH and accessible from the UNH bus system, you may refer to this interactive map or this list of vaccine locations on the UNH Transit bus lines, or contact Health & Wellness.

To learn more about registering in NH, visit https://www.vaccines.gov/.

If you have already been vaccinated, please let us know by uploading proof of your vaccination here.

Will we be able to get the vaccine at UNH?

Health & Wellness anticipates having COVID vaccination available to students this Fall. We will continue to provide updates, so please check back.

Can I get vaccinated if I’m currently sick with COVID-19?

No. You should wait until you have fully recovered and are no longer in isolation. This also applies if you’ve already had your first dose of the vaccine.

Can people who are fully vaccinated still get and/or spread COVID-19?

Though people who have been vaccinated are much less likely to get sick, all vaccines carry the possibility of breakthrough cases (see definition in Glossary section below). Even with 90% effectiveness, a small percentage of fully vaccinated people can still get sick, be hospitalized, or die from COVID-19.

Asymptomatic infections are possible as well. Because it takes about 2 weeks to fully build protection after being vaccinated, it is also possible for someone to get infected just before or just after vaccination and then get sick.

Some variants of COVID-19 may also cause illness in people after they are fully vaccinated.  It is important to know that if you are fully vaccinated and become infected with the Delta variant, you can spread the virus to others.

Learn more at "What You Should Know About the Possibility of COVID-19 Illness After Vaccination" from the CDC. 

Will the current vaccines protect me from COVID-19 variants?

The CDC is still gathering evidence about the effect of COVID-19 variants on the effectiveness of our current vaccines. However, current evidence shows that current vaccines are effective against severe illness and death, even if a vaccinated person becomes infected with COVID-19 (known as a breakthrough infection; learn more in the Glossary section below), and even against the newer, more contagious Delta variant.

What if I lost my vaccination card?

If you’ve lost your card or don’t have a copy, visit this website to find contact information for the state in which you received your vaccination. If you have previously submitted your vaccine card to Health & Wellness, please contact us for assistance.

Do I need to participate in the UNH testing program and how often do I need to test?

All Durham undergraduate and graduate students, faculty, staff and contractors living in campus housing or planning to be on the Durham campus need to be tested.

For your convenience, there is a "Determine Frequency of Testing" flowchart available on the UNH Testing Resources page.

  • If you’ve uploaded your vaccination card to the MyHealth&Wellness Portal, you must test twice per month to maintain a valid Wildcat Pass.
  • If you are a faculty or staff member who has not or are not planning to upload your vaccination card, you must test once per week to maintain a valid Wildcat Pass.
  • If you are a student who comes to Durham less than twice per week, you must test once per week to maintain a valid Wildcat Pass.
  • If you are a student who comes to Durham 2 or more times per week, you must test twice per week to maintain a valid Wildcat Pass.

Visit the UNH testing information website for more information on ongoing testing.

How do I participate in the required on-going testing for COVID-19 at UNH?

Visit the UNH testing website for updated information about how and where you can get tested at UNH.

What should I do if I receive a positive COVID-19 test result?

If you test positive on a COVID-19 test processed through UNH, you will be contacted by a member of the Health & Wellness staff. If you receive test results from an outside provider (e.g., local urgent care), please contact Health & Wellness at (603) 862-9355 to inform them of your positive results.

If positive, you will need to isolate yourself. See instructions on how to self-isolate in the "Transmission, Quarantine, and Isolation" section.

Do I need to get tested if I’m vaccinated and have close contact with someone diagnosed with COVID-19?

Asymptomatic individuals who have been vaccinated and who have been a close contact (see Glossary of Terms section for definition of close contact) to someone who tested positive (whether this individual has been vaccinated or not) should test through the UNH testing program* 3-5 days after the first exposure, then resume your usual testing schedule.

If a test result comes back abnormal, make an appointment with Health & Wellness to receive a confirmatory test.

Symptomatic individuals should make an appointment with Health & Wellness.

*You may also test through Health & Wellness, and office visits are covered as long as students have paid the Health & Wellness fee. However, there will be a charge for your visit over the summer or during J-Term if you have not paid the fee for those time periods. 

How does COVID-19 spread?

“COVID-19 spreads when an infected person breathes out droplets and very small particles that contain the virus. These droplets and particles can be breathed in by other people or land on their eyes, noses, or mouth. In some circumstances, they may contaminate surfaces they touch. People who are closer than 6 feet from the infected person are most likely to get infected.” Asymptomatic people who are infected but do not show symptoms are able to spread the virus to others. (CDC)

Can I get re-infected with COVID-19 if I’ve already had it?

It is rare but possible to become re-infected with COVID-19 if you have had it already, so you'll still need to follow public health guidelines during and after recovery.  (CDC

If I have been identified as a Household Close Contact of someone with COVID-19, what does that mean?

A Household Close Contact (HCC) is any individual who lives and sleeps in the same indoor shared space as another person diagnosed with COVID-19 (either a temporary or permanent living arrangement), leading to close contact and potential repeated exposure to the person with COVID-19. This includes situations where there may be temporary but prolonged exposure such as occurs as sleep-over events, shared camp cabins, vacation rentals, etc.

If I have been identified as a Non-Household Close Contact of someone with COVID-19, what does that mean?

A Non-Household Close Contact (NCC) is any individual who was within 6 feet of a person with COVID-19 for a cumulative time of 15 minutes or more within a 24 hour period, but is not a household contact.

Do I need to quarantine or isolate if I’ve had Household or Non-Household Close Contact with someone diagnosed with COVID-19?

To find out if you need to quarantine or isolate, please refer to the UNH Policies for Isolation and Quarantine.

Do I need to continue to quarantine if I test negative for COVID-19 while quarantining?

Yes, you must continue to quarantine and continue to test as directed. 

How do I self-quarantine?

Self-quarantine means that you practice caution for 10 days after your last contact with someone who has COVID-19 to see if you develop symptoms, and monitor symptoms for 14 days.

  • Stay home for 10 days after your last contact with a person who has COVID-19.
  • Watch for fever (100.4◦F), cough, shortness of breath, or other symptoms of COVID-19. If you have symptoms, immediately self-isolate and contact your local public health authority or healthcare provider.
  • Do not go to work, classes, or other social activities. Avoid activities in public and avoid having visitors. Do not use public transportation, such as the bus, train, Uber, or Lyft, etc.
  • If possible, stay away from people you live with, especially people who are at higher risk for getting very sick from COVID-19.

Watch for fever (100.4◦F), cough, shortness of breath, or other symptoms of COVID-19. If you have symptoms, immediately self-isolate and contact your local public health authority or healthcare provider.

How do I self-isolate?

Isolation is used to separate people infected with the virus (those who are sick with COVID-19 and those with no symptoms) from people who are not infected.

Those with COVID-19 illness need to be in isolation for 10 days after symptoms appear, and at least 24 hours since resolution of fever (without fever-reducing medication) and improvement in respiration symptoms (e.g., cough, shortness of breath).

Individuals in isolation should:

  • Ideally, have their own bedroom and bathroom.
  • Have no contact with others.  If others need to have contact with the person who is COVID-19 positive or if they need to leave their room/housing they should wear a mask and stay at least 6 feet away.
  • Not leave their room to go to work, classes, public events, church/worship, dining hall, etc.
  • Not use public transportation, such as the bus, train, Uber, or Lyft, etc.
  • Monitor their health as instructed by Health & Wellness or State Health Department.
  • Not leave isolation and return to daily activities until cleared by a medical professional.

If you are a student you can choose to self-isolate at your permanent residence, in your off-campus housing or in housing identified on campus. UNH employees should self-isolate at their permanent residence.

In addition, Health & Wellness in conjunction with the NH Department of Health & Human Services will work with you to identify your close contacts and will reach out to them to inform them of possible exposure to COVID-19.

What should I do if I have to quarantine or isolate on campus?

Refer to the Quarantine and Isolation documents linked here.

What should I have ready in my “Go Bag” just in case I need to be housed in the quarantine or isolation residence hall?

Please refer to the image* below, as well as the packing lists for Quarantine and Isolation, for details.

*Please note, those in quarantine will also need their self-swab testing kits.

Build a Go Bag - Necessary Items for a Potential 2 week Quarantine (details in Q/I packing list PDFs)

What are the most important steps I can take to prevent the spread of illness?

Everyone can do their part to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 and other illnesses.

  1. Get vaccinated. It is the best way to prevent serious illness to you personally, and helps to reduce transmission of COVID-19.
  2. Stay home when you experience symptoms (coughing, runny nose, sore throat, fever, etc.).
  3. Wash your hands! Scrub for 20 seconds. Regular soap and water are best, and hand sanitizer is a good alternative.
  4. Wear a mask indoors in public places in high infection areas, regardless of vaccination status, and on the UNH campus.
  5. Continue keeping 6 feet from others and avoiding crowds whenever possible.

Do I need to wear a mask on campus, and if so, when and where?

As of Sept. 9, 2021: All members of the Durham community—students, faculty and staff—are required to wear a face covering in all indoor campus spaces except when eating, in private offices or in personal residence hall rooms. The requirement applies to everyone, vaccinated and unvaccinated. This includes classrooms, hallways, elevators, restrooms, break rooms, entries and exits to buildings, laboratories, meeting rooms, shared offices and work areas.

The pandemic has caused an increase in feelings of worry, stress, sadness, etc. Is this normal? What can I do?

Feeling anxious, stressed, scared, and/or worried are normal reactions to current events. . These emotions can help motivate us to be informed and take actions to protect ourselves and others:

  • Get adequate sleep, eat well, move your body, hydrate, do things that help to relax your body and mind—these actions strengthen our immune systems and our emotional well-being!
  • Know the facts about the virus and getting accurate information from reliable sources.
  • Take breaks from media, including social media.
  • Stay connected to family, friends, and other support systems.
  • Acknowledge your feelings instead of suppressing them. It can be helpful to write down your feelings and list what is making you feel this way. Acknowledging feelings also includes acknowledging how others feel. Telling yourself or others not to worry, be stressed, or panic only tends to make ourselves and others feel worse.
  • Be kind and compassionate with yourself and others.

Additional Resources:

  • Living Well Services at Health & Wellness provides education, counseling, wellness coaching, support, and resources to maintain and improve emotional wellness. Make a telehealth appointment with a Wellness Educator/Counselor or Wellness Coach.
  • WellTrack is a self-guided and interactive resource to support your mental health and well-being. It’s easy to use and free-of-charge to UNH students. Based on cognitive-behavioral approaches, the app can help you identify, understand and address Anxiety, Depression, Resiliency and Public Speaking. WellTrack can be used alone or in conjunction with psychotherapy.If you find the emotions you are experiencing are impacting your daily life and functioning, reach out for help: 
    • Students at UNH-Durham can contact Psychological and Counseling Services (PACS) 603-862-2090. 
    • Students at UNH-M can contact The Mental Health Center of Greater Manchester (MHCGM) on campus (603) 641-4170 or directly (603) 668-4111.
    • Students at UNH Franklin Pierce School of Law can contact Riverbend Community Mental Health 603-228-1600 for an appointment or if crisis 1-844-743-5748.
    • Employees can contact the Employee Assistance Program (EAP) 1-800-424-1749.
    • The Suicide Prevention Lifeline is available for those in distress, prevention and crisis resources for you or your loved ones, and best practices for professionals: 1-800-273-8255.
  • Managing Fears and Anxiety around the Coronavirus (COVID-19) (Harvard)
  • Coping With Stress (CDC)

Am I at greater risk of COVID-19 if I smoke or vape?

Yes, being a current or former cigarette smoker increases your risk of severe illness from COVID-19 (CDC).

Health & Wellness is here to support anyone who is interested in reducing or quitting their use. Students may also schedule free telehealth appointments for Wellness Education/Counseling online and utilize our many virtual programs for additional support.

What are the current global travel advisories?

For global travel advisories, refer to the U.S. Department of State website.

What are the current local travel advisories?

New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services (NH DHHS) updates for travel requirements can be found here

What are the travel guidelines (e.g., testing, mask-wearing, precautions) for vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals?

Travel guidelines for both vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals can be found here.

Is there a requirement for quarantine if I travel outside NH?

(As of March 16, 2021) "Domestic travel within the U.S. outside of New England no longer requires quarantine upon return to NH, although people are recommended to still follow CDC’s travel guidance, including wearing a well-fitted face mask while traveling, practicing social distancing, getting tested 3-5 days after travel (with a molecular or PCR-based test), and limiting public interactions after travel (even if not required to quarantine)."

For more information about travel restrictions and precautions, please see the Travel section below.

How many cases of COVID-19 are there in the United States?

With the evolving nature of the virus in the United States, check here for updated information regarding the coronavirus in the U.S.

How many cases of COVID-19 are there in New Hampshire?

NH Division of Public Health Services provides the number of positive, possible, and fatal cases in NH, at https://www.nh.gov/covid19.

Where can I get more information on the virus and what UNH is doing to protect the community?

Refer to the UNH COVID-19 Updates and Resources page and/or the Health & Wellness Health Alerts page.

What are the symptoms and complications of COVID-19?

People with COVID-19 have had a wide range of symptoms reported – ranging from mild symptoms to severe illness. Symptoms may appear 2-14 days after exposure to the virus.

People with these symptoms may have COVID-19:

  • Fever or chills
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
  • Fatigue
  • Muscle or body aches
  • Headache
  • New loss of taste or smell
  • Sore throat
  • Congestion or runny nose
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Diarrhea

This list does not include all possible symptoms. Read more about COVID-19 Symptoms here.

What should I do if I think I might have COVID-19 symptoms?

If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, self-isolate and call your Primary Care Provider (PCP) or other health care clinician for guidance:

  • UNH Durham Campus, please call (603) 862-9355 to speak with a UNH Health & Wellness staff member.
  • UNH Manchester and School of Law: Please contact your Primary Care Physician or local Urgent Care Clinic.

What should I know about the Delta variant to protect myself and others?

According to the CDC:

  • The Delta variant is currently the predominant strain of the virus in the United States.
  • The Delta variantis more contagious. It causes more infections and spreads faster than early forms of SARS-CoV-2.
  • The greatest risk of transmission is among unvaccinated people who are much more likely to contract, and therefore transmit the virus. Some data suggest, the Delta variant might cause more severe illness, than other variants,  in those who are unvaccinated.
  • Fully vaccinated people with the Delta variant breakthrough infections can spread the virus to others but they seem to be infectious for a shorter period of time.
  • Vaccines in the United States are highly effective, including against the Delta variant.  Getting fully vaccinated is the best protection against the Delta variant.
  • To maximize protection (to help prevent the spread of infection and protect others), the CDC recommends both fully vaccinated and unvaccinated people wear a mask indoors in public, if in area of substantial or high transmission.  UNH is currently in a county with substantial transmission.

For more information on the Delta variant.

Why might someone blame or avoid individuals and groups and create stigma because of COVID-19?

“Stigma is associated with a lack of knowledge about how COVID-19 spreads, a need to blame someone, fears about disease and death, and gossip that spreads rumors and myths.” People who experience stigma may also face discrimination. For more information about stigma and how to reduce it in your community, visit the CDC website.

If you have observed or experienced an incident of bias or hate, discrimination and/or harassment, please report the incident using the reportit!_form or contact the Affirmative Action and Equity Office at affirmaction.equity@unh.edu or (603) 862-2930 Voice / (603) 862-1527 TTY / 7-1-1 Relay NH.

The following is a list of terms used widely with regard to COVID-19.

Breakthrough Infection

A vaccine breakthrough infection is defined as the detection of SARS-CoV-2 RNA or antigen in a respiratory specimen collected from a person ≥14 days after they have completed all recommended doses of a U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA)-authorized COVID-19 vaccine. In other words, it is a COVID-19 infection in an individual who has been fully vaccinated against COVID-19.

Household Close Contact

Household Close Contact (HCC): any individual who lives and sleeps in the same indoor shared space as another person diagnosed with COVID-19 (either a temporary or permanent living arrangement), leading to close contact and potential repeated exposure to the person with COVID-19. This includes situations where there may be temporary but prolonged exposure such as occurs as sleep-over events, shared camp cabins, vacation rentals, etc.

Non-Household Close Contact

Non-Household Close Contact (NCC): any individual who was within 6 feet of a person with COVID-19 for a cumulative time of 15 minutes or more within a 24 hour period, but is not a household contact.

Community Spread

Community SpreadCommunity spread means people have been infected with the virus in an area, including some who are not sure how or where they became infected.

Flattening the Curve

Flattening the curve (Harvard): refers to the epidemic curve, a statistical chart used to visualize the number of new cases over a given period of time during a disease outbreak. Flattening the curve is shorthand for implementing mitigation strategies to slow things down, so that fewer new cases develop over a longer period of time. This increases the chances that hospitals and other healthcare facilities will be equipped to handle any influx of patients.

Isolation vs. Quarantine

Isolation vs. quarantine: both help protect the public by preventing exposure to people who have or may have a contagious disease.

  • Quarantine separates and restricts the movement of people who were exposed to a contagious disease to see if they become sick.
  • Isolation separates sick people with a contagious disease from people who are not sick.

Social distancing vs. Physical distancing

Social distancing vs. Physical distancing: The CDC defines social distancing as "remaining out of congregate settings, avoiding mass gatherings and maintaining distance (> 6 feet) from others when possible." Examples include working from home, closing schools, canceling large gatherings.

Health & Wellness has recently begun using the term “physical distancing” rather than social distancing to acknowledge that we need social connection (virtually and safely) even as we work to keep ourselves and others healthy through physical distance.

If you do not see your question listed here or on the UNH FAQ page, please use our Ask a Health Provider Service by emailing HW.COVID19@unh.edu. A physician will email or call you back, usually within the same day. Please include your your contact information (name, email, phone number).

Additional Resources