The best way to prevent the flu is to get a flu shot each year. Flu shots have been shown to reduce the risk of flu illnesses, hospitalizations and the risk of flu-related death in children, the elderly and those with compromised immune systems.

The flu shot is a covered benefit, meaning there is no additional out-of-pocket cost, under most health insurance plans including the CSU-sponsored Student Health Insurance Plan. Contact your insurance company in advance if you have questions about cost.

CSU students can make an appointment to receive their flu shot at CSU Health Network.

Please call (970) 491-7121 for an appointment.

Walk-ins are not available.

Cold, Flu, COVID-19, or Wildfire Smoke?

Because some of the symptoms of cold, flu, COVID-19, and wildfire smoke are similar, it may be hard to tell the difference between them based on symptoms alone. Cold, flu, COVID-19, and wildfire smoke share many characteristics, but there are some key differences.

Common Cold

Key Symptoms:

  • runny and congested nose
  • sore throat
  • headache
  • generally feeling unwell

A mild cough due to postnasal drip and sneezing can occur.

More serious symptoms, such as fever and shortness of breath, are not typical symptoms of the common cold.

How can I be sure I have a cold?

A cold is usually diagnosed simply by assessing symptoms and without testing.  Over-the-counter cold medications often can help with symptom control.  The common cold will usually resolve within approximately one week of onset of symptoms.


Key Symptoms:

  • fever
  • chills
  • muscle aches
  • exhaustion

Flu classically comes on suddenly, as opposed to the more gradual onset of the common cold.

More mild symptoms can also occur, similar to the common cold, such as a runny nose, sore throat, and headache.  Vomiting and diarrhea are uncommon in adults.

How can I be sure I have the flu?

Flu is diagnosed based on a swab test performed by a healthcare provider.  Prescription medications can limit the duration of influenza symptoms, but need to be started promptly after diagnosis.  The duration of symptoms is approximately one week, with symptom improvement occurring around five days.

The flu vaccine is an important part of prevention.


Key Symptoms:

  • 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

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

CSU students who are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 can call CSU Health Network at 970-491-7121 to make an appointment with a medical provider.

Limited COVID-19 testing is available at CSU Health Network for students who are ill and have obtained a testing order from their Health Network provider.You must call ahead to make an appointment; we cannot accommodate walk-ins at this time.

Learn more about COVID-19 testing options.

Wildfire Smoke

Key Symptoms:

  • Stinging eyes
  • Cough
  • Sore throat
  • Runny nose or congestion
  • Wheezing, shortness of breath, or difficulty breathing
  • Chest pain
  • Headaches
  • Fatigue

While many symptoms of wildfire smoke and air pollution are similar to cold, flu, and/or COVID-19, a key differentiating factor is that symptoms worsen when outside but resolve quickly inside.

Before You’re Sick: Prevention and Care
  • Get vaccinated. The Centers for Disease Control recommends a yearly influenza shot for everyone six months of age and older. For CSU flu vaccination information, call the CSU Health Network at 970-491-6528.
  • Practice good hand hygiene.
    Wash your hands with warm, soapy water, rubbing your hands together for at least 15 seconds, especially after coughing or sneezing. Alcohol-based hand gels are also effective, unless hands are visibly soiled or grossly contaminated.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth.
    Germs can easily spread this way.
  • Perform routine cleaning.
    Disinfect items and surfaces likely to have frequent hand contact like door knobs, phones, keyboards, counters, desks, remote controls and refrigerator handles.
  • Engage in immune boosting strategies:
    • Get quality sleep – Set a schedule and supportive routine for sleep. 7 to 8 hours of sleep is optimal.
    • Reduce stress and develop good coping mechanisms.
    • Engage in physical activity.
    • Maintain a healthy, balanced diet.
    • Quit smoking/vaping. Support is available.
    • Drink alcohol in moderation or not at all.
  • Know the signs and symptoms of the flu.
    In general, the flu is worse than the common cold, and symptoms such as fever, chills, body aches, headache, extreme tiredness, and dry cough are more common and intense. A significant number of people who have been infected with the influenza virus also have reported diarrhea and vomiting.  Special tests to tell if a person has the flu and medication to lessen symptoms must be done within the first few days of illness. (The flu vaccine is still the best way to prevent influenza.)

Colds are usually milder than the flu, and people with colds are more likely to have a runny or stuffy nose, often accompanied by sneezing. Sore throats can be common. Colds generally do not lead to more serious health problems, such as pneumonia, bacterial infections, or hospitalizations, but the flu can.

For more information:

Seek medical attention for the flu if you have:
  • Chronic conditions such as asthma, heart disease, diabetes, neurological disorders, morbid obesity, an autoimmune diseases or are pregnant
  • Fever of 101.0 F for more than 3 days
  • Wheezing
  • Abdominal discomfort
  • Drainage from the eyes
  • Pain in your ears
  • Worsening symptoms after 5-7 days
Seek EMERGENCY medical attention if you have:
  • Chest pain or shortness of breath
  • Difficulty breathing other than nasal congestion
  • Severe abdominal pain
  • Dizziness or confusion
  • Severe headache
  • Inability to keep liquids down