This filterable guide to common questions about COVID-19 testing and safety measures will help you navigate a safe semester on campus. Browse other campus COVID-19 guidance and FAQs:
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I already had COVID-19. Do I still need to get vaccinated?
Yes, people who recovered from COVID-19 should get vaccinated. Evidence suggests that antibodies from natural infection may not be as robust or long-lasting as those from vaccination and that vaccination may offer better protection against new variants than those from a natural infection.
COVID-19 vaccine is readily available on campus for all eligible students and employees. Schedule your appointment at UHS now.Last updated 2:25 PM, September 26, 2022
What should I do if I’ve tested positive for COVID-19?
Stay home. Do not go to work, class, or any other campus or public areas. Separate yourself from other people and animals in your home as much as possible. Residence hall students may request an isolation space if they are unable to go home or do not want to isolate in their assigned room.
Isolate at home and do not leave isolation until:
- It has been at least 5 full days since the first day you had symptoms (day 0 is the day your symptoms start), or since you tested positive if you do not have symptoms (day 0 is the day of your test), AND
- You have been at least 24 hours without a fever (without fever-reducing medicine), AND
- Your other symptoms are resolving.
Five full days is a minimum and some people may need to isolate longer. If you do not meet the criteria after 5 full days, continue to isolate until you are fever-free for 24-hours without fever reducing medication and your other symptoms have improved. Isolate longer if you are instructed to do so by a contact tracer or medical professional.
If you meet the criteria to leave isolation after 5 full days, and a contact tracer or medical professional did not instruct you to isolate for longer, you must continue to wear a well-fitted mask around others for 5 additional days.
- If you are unable to wear a mask around others, isolate for a full 10 days.
- Avoid people who are immunocompromised or at high risk of severe disease until after 10 days.
- Avoid travel until a full 10 days after your first day of symptoms or your positive test.
- Do not go places where you are unable to wear a mask, such as restaurants and gyms, until 10 days has passed since your symptoms started or you tested positive.
You may also choose to test before leaving isolation if you meet the criteria for ending after 5 full days. If you’re able, use an antigen test toward the end of your 5-day isolation. If you test positive, continue to isolate until day 10.
You should also:
- Notify your close contacts and work with contact tracers.
- Take leave or seek flexibility for work; contact your instructors for flexibility with classes and assignments.
- Monitor your symptoms and call before visiting your doctor. If you have an appointment, be sure you tell them you have or may have COVID-19.
- Take care of yourself. Get rest and stay hydrated. Take over-the-counter medicines, such as acetaminophen, ibuprofen or another non-steroidal anti-inflammatory (NSAID) to help you feel better.
- Avoid using public transportation, taxis, or ride-share.
- Call 911 if you experience a medical emergency, such as difficulty breathing.
- People in your household, and others you had close contact with need to get tested if possible, and self-monitor for symptoms. Consult Public Health Madison and Dane County’s exposure guidance.
- Find additional information through Public Health Madison and Dane County.
If you live with others, consult this guidance from Public Health Madison and Dane County and the CDC to reduce the chances of spreading the virus in your household.
For more information, visit the CDC’s webpage about quarantining and isolation.Last updated 3:12 PM, August 30, 2022
I was vaccinated off-campus. How do I let UHS know?
If you receive COVID-19 vaccination off campus, including your initial or primary vaccine series and booster shots, share your records as soon as possible. (Note that UW Health clinics and vaccines given by UW Health providers are considered off campus.) Wait until you have received either the single dose of a one-dose vaccine or both shots of a two-dose vaccine to share your record. You may share booster records immediately.
If you received your booster at UHS, or you previously gave permission to UHS to access your Wisconsin Immunization Record and you received a booster in Wisconsin, you don’t need to take any further action to share your vaccine record.
Otherwise, you may upload your record directly to MyUHS:
- Log into MyUHS using your NetID and password.
- Select “Enter my COVID-19 Vaccine information.”
- You will be prompted to upload a copy of your immunization record. This can be an image file (PNG, JPG, JPEG) or a PDF. Attempting to upload other kinds of files will result in an error message. Accepted records include:
- The official Centers for Disease Control and Prevention vaccination card you receive at your vaccine site. It must contain two patient identifiers, such as name and date of birth; vaccine lot number; vaccine name (for example, Moderna, Pfizer or Janssen/Johnson & Johnson); date of vaccination (there should be two dates for Moderna and Pfizer); clinic name (must be an official clinic name; if the clinic was a chain pharmacy, please include the store number). The example below shows these fields.
- Your Wisconsin Immunization Registry vaccination record
- A state vaccination record from outside Wisconsin
- For vaccination outside the U.S., the most complete record you have available. UHS will recognize vaccines maintained on the World Health Organization’s emergency use listing.
- You will also need to enter the date of your one-dose vaccine and the vaccine manufacturer, or the dates of your two-dose vaccine and vaccine manufacturer in the section labeled “Doses of COVID-19 Vaccine.”
- Click or tap “Done” when you are finished.
Allow up to five business days for the record to be reflected in your MyUHS account. It may take longer for booster shots to be reflected in your campus record. While the record is under review your Medical Clearance information will indicate “awaiting review.” Once it is approved, this field will say “satisfied.” You will receive an email from UHS when your record is approved.
If you received your vaccination in Wisconsin, and cannot find the record in WIR, contact the WIR Help Desk at 608-266-9691 or email DHSWIRHelp@dhs.wisconsin.gov.Last updated 3:47 PM, August 18, 2022
How long should someone stay home if they are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19?
If you have COVID-19, you can spread the virus to others. Do not attend work or class if you are sick, especially with symptoms of COVID-19.
You should test for COVID-19 using an at-home antigen test.
If you test positive for COVID-19, you should stay home at least for 5 full days and isolate from others in your home. You are likely most infectious during the first 5 days. Wear a high quality mask if you must be around others at home and in public.
A negative test does not necessarily mean you do not have COVID-19 — you may consider retesting with another antigen test 24-to-48 hours after the first.
Students can call or make an appointment with UHS to discuss antigen test results, especially if symptoms worsen. Employees should contact their health care provider with concerns.
Last updated 1:09 PM, January 19, 2023
Can an instructor require face masks in the classroom?
Instructors may recommend, but may not require, students to wear masks in instructional settings. Instructors may not reward or penalize students for whether or not they choose to wear a mask.Last updated 3:56 PM, August 18, 2022
What is the current requirement for mask wearing on campus?
Masks may be worn but are no longer required inside university buildings. Masks are required when visiting University Health Services and other clinical spaces on campus. This also includes at the antigen test distribution site at 333 E. Campus Mall.
You should wear a mask for 10 days following a positive COVID-19 test and for 10 days following an exposure to someone with COVID-19.Last updated 2:26 PM, January 4, 2023
I have symptoms of COVID-19 but tested negative on an antigen test. What should I do?
Students and employees with symptoms of COVID-19 should test immediately with an at-home antigen test. Students can call or make an appointment with UHS to discuss antigen test results, especially if symptoms worsen. Employees should contact their health care provider with concerns. A negative test does not necessarily mean you do not have COVID-19 — you may consider retesting with another antigen test 24-to-48 hours after the first. Stay home if you are sick.Last updated 11:46 AM, January 18, 2023
If I am in class or at work when I receive a positive COVID-19 test result, should I leave immediately?
Yes, if you receive a positive test result (PCR or antigen), you should leave class or work immediately and follow the isolation instructions.Last updated 2:29 PM, January 4, 2023
I am an international student traveling to Madison from outside the United States – do I need to test for COVID-19 before leaving?
Due to frequent changes, please review the CDC COVID Travel Guidelines for the latest information.Last updated 7:57 PM, August 26, 2022
Should I attend work or class if I am sick?
Students and employees with symptoms of COVID-19 should test immediately with an at-home antigen test. Students can call or make an appointment with UHS to discuss antigen test results, especially if symptoms worsen. Employees should contact their health care provider with concerns. A negative test does not necessarily mean you do not have COVID-19 — you may consider retesting with another antigen test 24-to-48 hours after the first. Stay home if you are sick.
Last updated 10:55 AM, January 17, 2023
If I was vaccinated for COVID-19 outside of the United States, do I need to get or can I get a U.S.-based vaccine?
This depends on the type of vaccination you received and whether you completed the series.
For recipients of FDA-authorized vaccines
- If you had two doses of Moderna or Pfizer or a single dose of Johnson and Johnson, you have completed the initial dose series.
- If it has been more than 2 months since you received a Johnson and Johnson dose, you should get a booster shot.
- If you are 18 or older and it has been more than 5 months since you completed your initial dose series of Pfizer or Moderna, you should get a booster shot.
- If you are immunocompromised, you should get an additional dose if you received Moderna or Pfizer. Anyone initially vaccinated with Johnson and Johnson at least two months ago should get a booster of either an mRNA vaccine (Moderna or Pfizer) or Johnson and Johnson.
- If you received just one dose of Moderna or Pfizer, you should seek a second dose as close to the recommended timeframe as possible (28 days for Moderna, 21 days for Pfizer)
For recipients of WHO-approved vaccines listed for emergency use
- If you completed an initial vaccine series, you are considered fully vaccinated.
- If it has been more than 5 months since you completed your initial dose series and you are 18 or older, you should get a booster dose of the Pfizer vaccine.
- If you completed just part of a series, you should seek a complete, FDA-authorized COVID-19 vaccine series. You should wait until it’s been at least 28 days since your last dose to begin an FDA-authorized vaccine series.
For recipients of non–WHO-listed or FDA-authorized vaccine
- If you received all or part of a vaccine that is not currently authorized by the FDA or granted emergency use listing by the WHO, you should seek a complete, FDA-authorized COVID-19 vaccine series. You should wait until it’s been at least 28 days since your last dose to begin an FDA-authorized vaccine series.
You must receive all recommended doses of an FDA-authorized or WHO-listed COVID-19 initial vaccine series to be considered fully vaccinated.Last updated 11:12 AM, January 19, 2023
What should I do if I have symptoms of COVID-19?
Students and employees with symptoms of COVID-19 should test immediately with an at-home antigen test. Students can call or make an appointment with UHS to discuss antigen test results, especially if symptoms worsen. Employees should contact their health care provider with concerns. A negative test does not necessarily mean you do not have COVID-19 — you may consider retesting with another antigen test 24-to-48 hours after the first.
Stay home if you are sick. Follow Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommendations for isolation and precautions.
Wisconsin Department of Health Services also offers WI residents access to free treatment telehealth services seven days a week.
Last updated 11:04 AM, January 17, 2023
How can I replace my lost vaccination card?
If you’ve lost your vaccination card, try any of the following:
- Call the provider where you were vaccinated to see if they can give you a new card.
- If you received your vaccination in Wisconsin, access your vaccination record using the Wisconsin Immunization Registry (WIR).
- If you have a social security number, Medicaid ID, or Health Care Member ID, you can access your record through the Public Immunization Record Access
- If you do not have one of these numbers, you can access your record one of two ways:
- Option 1: Fill out the Wisconsin Immunization Registry Record Release Authorization, F-02487 and have your records sent to you. If you received your vaccine through UHS, the Health Care Member ID for signing into WIR will be your campus ID number (found on your Wiscard)
- Option 2: Ask the organization that vaccinated you to assign you a chart number in WIR. The chart number field is linked to the Health Care Member ID. Then, visit the Public Immunization Record Access webpage and enter the chart number assigned to you in the Health Care Member ID field.
- If you received your vaccination in another state, go to that state department of health’s website to search their vaccine registry.
Please note, DHS cannot issue COVID-19 vaccination cards. University Health Services can only issue replacement cards for vaccine doses administered at UW–Madison.Last updated 3:37 PM, September 30, 2021
Where and when can I be tested?
Those who are experiencing symptoms should take an antigen test kit. Kits are available at pharmacies and other retailers. Check with your insurer to see if they are covered before purchasing a kit.
Students who are symptomatic and need to see a provider can make an appointment at University Health Services.
Employees should contact their health care provider for further guidance if symptoms continue or worsen.Last updated 9:04 PM, May 10, 2023
What should I do if a student or multiple students in my class cannot attend due to illness?
Instructors are encouraged to offer flexibility to complete coursework and assignments if students miss class due to illness. If multiple students in a course section must miss class concurrently due to illness, every effort should be made to avoid a disruption to in-person instruction. Instructors should work with their department, school and college to explore ways to provide students who cannot attend class meetings access to course materials and activities. Any interruption of in-person instruction should be temporary and brief. Decisions to offer flexibility in meeting course expectations during an illness and subsequent absence from class should reflect the individual situation of the student, as well as the legitimate academic demands of the class and its intended learning outcomes.Last updated 10:42 AM, September 9, 2022
If I receive a booster vaccination off-campus, should I upload my record to MyUHS?
Yes. Though not required, sharing your off-campus booster vaccination with UHS as soon as possible helps campus plan. Let UHS know by sharing your records through the MyUHS website or app.Last updated 1:37 PM, April 20, 2022
What information do I need to bring to my appointment for a booster shot or an additional dose?
You should bring your existing paper vaccination card to your appointment, if possible.
If you were vaccinated by UHS or shared your vaccine records through MyUHS you do not need to take additional steps.
If your vaccination record is not on file with UHS, share your records as soon as possible. Follow these instructions and allow up to five business days for it to process.
If your record is not in MyUHS at the time of your appointment, you will need to provide a paper or electronic copy of your vaccination record that includes your name, the vaccine manufacturer and the dates it was administered. If you were vaccinated in Wisconsin, you should be able to access that information in the Wisconsin Immunization Registry.Last updated 7:28 PM, January 26, 2022
If an employee stays home to prevent the spread of illness but feels well enough to work, can they work remotely?
Employees are strongly encouraged to use their sick leave, rather than work remotely, so that they can rest and recover from illness. However, if you have a need to work (e.g., urgent deadline) and you feel well enough to do so, you may work remotely, if you receive approval from your supervisor.Last updated 10:14 AM, September 8, 2021
Can my family member or friend who is traveling with me to Madison get tested for COVID-19 on campus?
No. Family members can find off-campus testing options through Public Health Madison and Dane County or by visiting the Wisconsin Department of Health Services website for a list of community and private providers, including pharmacies. The CDC also has information on where to find no-cost COVID-19 testing locations.
Last updated 3:09 PM, January 26, 2023
What are the public health requirements for in-person youth activities ?
Youth activities and programs on the UW campus are permitted. All programs must follow campus public health guidelines.
Masks may be worn, but are not required, for youth participating in on-campus activities as well as staff serving them while on the UW–Madison campus or in any of its facilities.
Decisions regarding youth participating in youth activities on the UW–Madison campus or in any of its facilities are made in consultation with local public health departments, taking into account Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) COVID-19 by County information.
Vaccinations are the greatest defense against the spread of COVID-19 and we encourage all guests who are 6 months and over to get vaccinated.
All activities involving youth must be registered with the UW–Madison Office of Youth Protection (OYP) to ensure compliance. Reach out to OYP for more information.
Last updated 12:30 PM, August 30, 2022
I have a disability or underlying medical condition as identified by the CDC that puts me at greater risk of serious illness and I am not comfortable being on campus. What can I do?
Please be aware that a majority of employees and students have already received at least one dose and many are fully vaccinated.
For employees: If you have specific concerns related to a medical condition/disability that you have, please talk to your Divisional Disability Representative (DDR) about an accommodation under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Employees who do not wish to disclose disability or medical information may seek to work remotely through the Remote Work Policy and the employee’s request will be evaluated in the same manner as other remote work requests, and not as an accommodation request under the ADA.
For students: UW–Madison will offer primarily in-person classes in spring semester. Many of the University’s academic programs have essential in-person components. If you have a disability that impacts your ability to attend in person activities, you may work with the McBurney Disability Resource Center to explore possible accommodations. Requests for remote participation will require a letter from your health care provider and approval will be contingent upon determining feasibility for each course with the course instructor.Last updated 11:22 AM, January 17, 2023
Should students have their vaccine cards available during the school year?
We encourage the entire campus community to upload their vaccination record. While we don’t anticipate you needing to show your card on campus, you may be asked for it off campus. Some local event venues and restaurants have announced they will be requiring proof of vaccination. We’d suggest at least carrying a digital copy of your vaccine card.Last updated 9:51 AM, November 3, 2021
Do I need to get vaccinated to participate in a UW–Madison study abroad/away program?
We strongly encourage all participants to be fully vaccinated with a Food and Drug Administration (FDA)-authorized vaccine (Modern, Pfizer, or Johnson and Johnson) or World Heath Organization (WHO)-approved COVID-19 vaccine prior to their program start date.
UW–Madison does not require that participants be vaccinated. However, countries may require proof of vaccination for entry, and some programs and partners may also require proof of vaccination prior to participation. Additionally, country and program protocols such as mandatory quarantines, travel policies, course and activity participation, housing options, and testing requirements may vary by vaccination status. Being fully vaccinated with an FDA or WHO approved vaccine will result in a less burdensome and safer traveling, living, and learning experience for you and those you interact with given dynamic worldwide conditions due to COVID-19.
It is your responsibility to understand and abide by the vaccination requirements (including acceptable vaccine types and verification methods) for your specific program and location(s), as well as any country you may travel through or visit during your time abroad. Note that restrictions and regulations may change at any time. Any related delays, penalties, quarantines, program status changes or cancellations, and associated costs are the full responsibility of the student.
We encourage you to bring your COVID-19 vaccination record card when abroad and to also have copies available as a back-up.
You will need to research and monitor your country and program requirements. The U.S. Embassy is a good source for the country(ies) you’re visiting. For program specific requirements, please read all of your program materials carefully as well as reach out to your study abroad advisor if you have any questions.Last updated 11:53 AM, November 11, 2021
Although I am fully vaccinated, I (or a household member) have a health condition that puts me (them) at greater risk of serious illness if I (they) contract COVID-19. I am not comfortable being around unmasked people unless I know they are fully vaccinated. What can I do?
You may continue to wear a mask if you feel more comfortable doing so. If you have specific concerns related to a disability, please connect with the McBurney Disability Resource Center (students) or your Divisional Disability Representative (employees).Last updated 1:09 PM, March 16, 2022
Is it okay to ask someone I work with if they have been vaccinated?
No. A person’s vaccination status is private, just like any other medical issue or condition, and employees should not be asked to share this information. In general, especially as more people become eligible for vaccination due to health conditions, it is good etiquette to avoid asking people their vaccination status. Anyone who wants to share their vaccine status information with others is free to do so on their own terms, but there is no requirement to share this information with others with whom they work and/or report.Last updated 2:24 PM, May 26, 2021
If I have not received a COVID-19 vaccine yet, should I still get a booster?
If you have not yet received a COVID-19 vaccine, you should schedule an appointment through MyUHS for a primary dose series of vaccine. Right now, UHS offers Pfizer vaccines – If you wish to receive a Moderna, Johnson & Johnson, or Novavax vaccine instead, check out vaccine availability around the Madison area.
Posted on 2:31 PM, September 26, 2022
If I recently got a different booster, can I get the updated vaccine?
You are eligible to receive an updated, bivalent COVID-19 booster if it has been at least 2 months since you last received an FDA authorized or approved COVID-19 vaccine. Visit the CDC website for more information on how to stay up to date with COVID-19 vaccines including boosters.
Posted on 2:35 PM, September 26, 2022
What is a "close contact"?
A close contact is someone who was less than 6 feet away from an infected person for a total of 15 minutes or more over a 24-hour period. COVID-19 spreads between people who are in close contact through respiratory droplets, created when someone talks, coughs or sneezes. If you’ve been exposed to COVID-19, you could get sick. Learn more about what to do if you’ve been exposed to COVID-19.
Last updated 7:52 PM, August 31, 2022
Where can I get vaccinated?
- University Health Services
- UW–Madison employees and students can make appointments through the MyUHS portal.
- VaccineFinder.org helps people more easily locate available vaccine providers who are open to the public.
- The Wisconsin Department of Health Services vaccine registry
- Public Health Madison & Dane County and others are also offering appointments to people who sign up through the DHS registry.
- Your health care provider
- Check with your provider about vaccine availability.
- A growing number of pharmacies, including many national retailers, are now offering vaccination. Check the DHS website for a list of participating pharmacies and information on how to make an appointment.
- Community-based vaccination clinics
- Public Health Madison and Dane County is offering vaccination; appointments are recommended but not required. For more information, visit https://publichealthmdc.com/coronavirus/covid-19-vaccine/vaccination-appointments.
- DHS is operating community clinics in several counties. Any eligible Wisconsin resident can be vaccinated at these sites, though keep in mind wherever you get your first dose, you will need to get your second dose at the same location.
Do guests or visitors need to show proof that they are vaccinated or have had current negative COVID-19 test to attend on campus events/activities?
No.Last updated 10:49 AM, October 8, 2021
What if the current campus events policy?
As of March 12, 2022, any gatherings and events sponsored by UW–Madison or organizations officially recognized by or affiliated with the University — including meetings, conferences, and performances — are no longer subject to any COVID-related restrictions.
All events and meetings must follow existing health and safety requirements including venue occupancy and providing food and drinks in accordance with the Campus Catering Policy.
COVID-specific protocols or requirements such as masking, proof of vaccination, or proof of a negative COVID test may not be imposed for any events sponsored solely by UW–Madison or organizations officially recognized by or affiliated with the University, whether limited to the campus population or open to the public, with the exception of events held in private facilities with venue-specific health and safety protocols.
Additional protocols and requirements for event attendees may be imposed by third-parties — individuals or organizations — that rent, lease or otherwise obtain permission to use UW facilities for events not open to the public or for UW–Madison co-sponsored events open to the public only if the following three conditions are met:
- Attendance/registration is managed solely by the third-party or third-party co-sponsor, is not the responsibility of UW–Madison, and does not rely on UW–Madison systems or personnel.
- Enforcement of any additional protocols or requirements is managed solely by the third-party or third-party co-sponsor.
- UW–Madison employees staffing the event or otherwise working in the facility are not subject to the additional protocols or requirements and no enforcement actions can be taken against them.
A third party is defined as an individual acting in their own capacity as a private citizen or organization not affiliated with or officially recognized or sponsored by the University. For clarity, registered student organizations do not qualify as a third party for purposes of these guidelines.Posted on 11:13 AM, August 31, 2022
If it is the weekend and I want to get tested for COVID-19, what should I do?
Weekend testing may be available through community health care providers or community test sites. Public Health Madison & Dane County maintains a listing of local testing locations. Make sure to check whether the test is free or if there is a charge.
You may also choose to pick up an at-home antigen test on campus to use when you need it. More information on antigen test distribution can be found on our testing webpage.
Do not attend work or class while you are experiencing symptoms.Last updated 2:43 PM, August 18, 2022
I am worried about variants. Am I protected by vaccination?
Vaccination remains the best way to protect yourself from COVID-19, including variants of the SARS-CoV-2 virus. Researchers continue to study vaccines in the context of variants of concern. Variants are less likely to emerge as more people get vaccinated across the world, so experts encourage vaccination to help prevent variants from arising.Last updated 9:13 AM, September 28, 2021
What should a student do if they need to miss one or more class sessions due to illness?
Students unable to attend class meetings due to illness should contact their instructors to discuss options for access to course materials and activities and flexibility on course assignments. Students who must miss multiple class sessions should talk with their instructors and with their academic advisor about the best course of action. If you have trouble getting the support you need, reach out to your academic advisor, the chair of the department in which the course is being offered, or the Dean of Students Office.Last updated 8:13 AM, September 16, 2022
What should I do if a student in my class is showing symptoms of COVID-19?
It is not an instructor’s role to offer medical guidance to individual students. If a student asks you for medical information, please direct them to UHS and covidresponse.wisc.edu. You may also use the syllabus or class announcements to direct students to information about symptoms, staying home when sick, testing, and other COVID-19 information provided on covidresponse.wisc.edu.
Last updated 10:50 AM, September 9, 2022
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