UT University Health Services

Symptoms, Transmission, and Prevention

The Center for Disease Control (CDC) believes at this time that symptoms may appear 2-14 days after exposure.

Symptoms may be flu-like, ranging from mild to serious, and include:

  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Repeated shaking with chills
  • Muscle pain
  • Headache
  • Sore throat
  • New loss of taste or smell

This list is not all inclusive. Please consult your medical provider for any other symptoms that are severe or concerning to you.

COVID-19 spreads primarily from person to person through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person sneezes or coughs. The droplets can infect people who are closer than about six feet to the infected person if the droplets land in their mouths or noses or are inhaled into their lungs.

It may also be possible that a person can get COVID-19 by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose or possibly their eyes, but this is not thought to be the main way the virus spreads.

People are thought to be most contagious when they are most symptomatic (the sickest). However, transmission is possible when an infected person has mild or no symptoms.

Multiple COVID-19 vaccines are approved for use in the U.S. Both require two shots (doses) either three or four weeks apart, depending upon the vaccine.

There is not yet sufficient vaccine to immunize everyone. Federal and state health authorities have developed priority “phases” -- guidelines for categories of people that can receive the vaccine as it becomes available. Early phases include those at highest risk of being exposed and/or those at greatest risk of severe illness or death if infected.

The university, in partnership with local and state officials, is distributing vaccines in alignment with these guidelines. Find more information at the Protect Texas Together COVID-19 Vaccine Distribution page.

Everyone is encouraged to get vaccinated when eligible. When enough people get vaccinated, the spread of COVID-19 from person to person becomes less likely, and the entire community becomes protected. This is called “herd immunity.”

Regardless of these new vaccines, a person’s vaccine status or whether they have had COVID-19 illness, it remains essential to continue practicing personal preventive behaviors because:

  • It will take significant time for enough people to be immunized for herd immunity to occur.
  • COVID-19 vaccines are highly, but not 100%, effective.
  • The vaccines are new enough that the length of immunity they produce is not fully known. The same applies to immunity produced by COVID-19 infection.

Living with others during the pandemic can present challenges and considerations for staying safe. Here are some useful tips to help you stay healthy while sharing your living space (pdf).

Here are everyday actions to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 and respiratory viruses in general (e.g., colds and flu).

  • Get vaccinated.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
  • If not fully vaccinated, keep six feet of distance between yourself and others whenever possible.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Wear a recommended protective face mask when you will be around other people.
  • Do not share food, beverages or smoking devices with others.
  • Avoid close contact with sick people.
  • Avoid shaking hands— wave or “hook ‘em” instead.
  • Stay home when sick and avoid leaving home even if you are well except when necessary.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces often.
  • Cough or sneeze into your elbow or sleeve or cover coughs and sneezes with a tissue. Throw the tissue directly into the trash.
  • If you experience symptoms of respiratory illness, call the UHS Nurse Advice Line at 512-475-6877.

hours Monday - Friday 8am - 5pm by appointment Monday - Friday, 8am to 5pm
by appointment
512) 471-4955 (512) 471-4955
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University Health Services is committed to providing high-quality care to patients of all ages, races, ethnicities, physical abilities or attributes, religions, sexual orientations, or gender identities/expression.


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