Below you will find answers to some of the most frequently asked questions MSU has received about the pandemic.

Last Updated: May 16, 2022

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Health and Wellness

Face masks are recommended, but not required, for students, faculty and staff in campus buildings at Montana State University. Read the president's message to campus.

The Gallatin City-County Health Department is the only agency comprehensively tracking the number of COVID-19 cases in the county. MSU does not have a separate number of cases that are affiliated with the campus; only the Gallatin City-County Health Department has access to and compiles that information.

The county's numbers are published daily on its data dashboard, and weekly surveillance reports are published Fridays at


MSU students do not undergo surveillance testing.

Students who develop COVID-19 symptoms can seek testing from Student Health Partners.

Symptomatic students can also seek testing from their own health care providers, and if they need medical services beyond a COVID-19 test, they can also make an appointment with Student Health Partners.

Information about vaccine availability from Student Health Partners is available on our vaccine information page.

CDC guidelines state that vaccinated individuals do not need COVID-19 testing before or after travel; however, please see the CDC's detailed recommendations regarding testing guidelines for individuals who are not fully vaccinated.

If the test result is positive, students should delay their return to campus by isolating as directed by health care professionals.

If a student needs to delay their return to campus due to COVID-19, faculty and staff will work to provide remote coursework and online support until the student can return safely in person.

Follow the direction of your local county health department and your personal health care provider on when you can leave isolation or quarantine to travel to MSU. Stay home in quarantine or isolation until then.

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If you get sick, first of all contact a medical professional and see to your health. When it's practical, reach out to your instructors to let them know you are ill.

Students do not need to provide details or personal information other than to tell instructors that they have a medical issue and will miss class. The faculty are prepared for this eventuality and will work with students when they reach out.

When it comes time to return to class, no doctor's note or written excuse is needed. We simply ask that students be honest and clear throughout in their communications with faculty members.

Students with a medical or immunity related issue are invited to reach out to MSU Office of Disability Services at 406-994-2824 to discuss accommodations.


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Quarantine and Isolation

See this page for general questions about quarantine and isolation.

Please call your RA or front desk of your residence hall to inform them you tested positive for COVID-19.

As of May 13, MSU will no longer offer isolation housing for students. It is recommended students limit exposure with others by staying in their dorm for the recommended period of time. If a student is able to travel home or isolate off campus it is recommended that they do so.

Here are some tips to prevent the spread of COVID while you are isolating in the dorms:

  • Wear a mask.
  • Avoid face to face interactions.
  • Wash your hands.
  • Avoid common areas.
  • Have your meals dropped off at your door. 

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Whether MSU offers the Moderna, Pfizer, Johnson & Johnson. or Novavax COVID-19 vaccines (and others as they become available) depends on the available supply and what Student Health Partners keeps in stock. Student Health Partners will specify which company’s vaccine will be offered when it communicates about availability.

CDC and the FDA continue to update guidance on how many vaccinations individuals should receive. For the latest advice, please review this CDC website: COVID-19 Vaccines for Specific Groups of People.

MSU is currently offering doses of federally-supported COVID vaccines to its eligible students and employees free of cost.

Common side effects from the COVID-19 vaccines are similar to flu vaccines you may have received in the past. They include pain and swelling at the injection site. People can also experience flu-like symptoms — fever, chills, fatigue and headache — for a few days after receiving a shot.

Should redness or tenderness at the injection site worsen after 24 hours, or if the side effects are worrying you and do not seem to be going away after a few days, consult a doctor.

Some individuals have experienced a severe allergic reaction to vaccinations. If you get a COVID-19 vaccine and think you are having a severe allergic reaction after leaving the vaccination site, seek immediate medical care by calling 911. Learn more about COVID-19 vaccines and rare severe allergic reactions.

Anyone who is allergic to the ingredients in the vaccines should not get vaccinated. Also, if you have any allergic reaction to the first dose, you should discuss with your medical provider before receiving a second dose. The following PDF fact sheets include lists of ingredients in each company’s vaccine.

Yes. The CDC recommends that people get vaccinated whether they had had COVID-19 or not. You may receive a vaccination as soon as you complete isolation for your COVID-19 infection.

Scientists aren't sure yet how long you're protected from getting sick again after recovering from COVID-19. This natural immunity after being sick varies from person to person.

It's rare for someone who has had COVID-19 to get reinfected, and it's uncommon for people to get the disease again with 90 days of recovering, but the science isn't certain yet.

The CDC notes, however, that if you were treated for COVID-19 symptoms with monoclonal antibodies or convalescent plasma, you should wait 90 days before getting a COVID-19 vaccine. Talk to your doctor if you are unsure what treatments you received or if you have more questions about getting a COVID-19 vaccine.

Following guidelines set forth by the Montana Office of the Commissioner of Higher Education, MSU is not requiring students to be vaccinated for COVID-19, and we are not asking for COVID-19 vaccination records. MSU campus life should be the same for students regardless of their vaccination status. Precautions such as masks and social distancing will be voluntary.

That said, we strongly recommend that all students and members of the campus community get the vaccine while it is free and widely available.

Student vaccination requirements are decided by the Montana Board of Regents, which is the governing body of the state's university system. The board has not adopted a policy requring COVID-19 vaccinations, as it has for other immunizations. Students need to follow all immunization requirements set by the Regents. For questions concerning Board of Regents policies, contact the Office of the Commissioner of Higher Education.

No. You will not test positive on a viral test, such as a nasal swab test, that looks for signs of infection. However, you may test positive on an antibody test. That’s because vaccines teach your body to make its own antibodies to fight viruses.

According to the CDC, people who are pregnant and part of a group recommended to get a vaccine may choose to do so. While the chances of severe health effects from COVID-19 are low, people who are pregnant do have an increased risk of severe illness from COVID-19 or adverse pregnancy outcomes.

Breastfeeding is an important consideration but is rarely a safety concern with vaccines, and there is no scientific data to suggest the COVID-19 vaccines are unsafe for those who are breastfeeding.

See more vaccine considerations for people who are pregnant or breastfeeding.

No. The vaccines do not contain infectious material.

Sometimes people get a fever or feel tired for a day or so after getting a vaccine. These symptoms are normal and are a sign that the body is building immunity. It usually takes a few weeks for the body to build immunity after vaccination.

Information about vaccine availability at MSU is posted to the SHP Medical Services homepage and to the COVID-19 website's vaccine information page.

In addition to vaccines being widely available through the Gallatin City-County Health Department, Bozeman Health and other providers, MSU faculty and staff at MSU can sign up for free vaccine clinics offered periodically in the SUB.

Information about the COVID-19 vaccines is published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on its website. Links to those informational pages are below.

Additional information and the answers to many frequently asked questions about the available COVID-19 vaccines are listed on the Gallatin City-County Health Department vaccine information page.

Other questions dealing with your unique health situation should be directed to your health care provider. If you are a student, you can contact the Medical Services division of Student Health Partners by calling 406-994-2311.

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