Features / Bristol24/7 Student Guide 2020

Bristol24/7 Student Guide 2020: Staying healthy

By jack fifield, Thursday Aug 20, 2020

Now more than ever, it’s important to keep healthy while at university. As well as keeping active, it’s important to keep an eye on all other aspects of your health, too.

Registering with a doctor’s surgery
If you’re going to be spending most of your time in Bristol, it’s a good idea to register with a Bristol-based GP. Your records can be transferred from your local doctor, and you can always transfer back if you move back home.

You can register at any nearby local GP, but both the University of Bristol and UWE Bristol have their own recommended GPs that can be accessed on campus. Other local GPs can be found using the NHS website.

University of Bristol
The Students’ Health Service offers GP services to students and you can register online – just have your course details and student ID number to hand.

The health centre is located in Hampton House Health Centre, St Michael’s Hill, BS6 6AU and can be called on 0117 330 2720.

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UWE Bristol
UWE Health Centre is based on Frenchay Campus, opposite the Student Village, but works as part of The Old School Surgery in Fishponds to provide appointments, meaning that both Glenside and Frenchay Campus students aren’t far from an appointment when they need one.

Students can register online and can call the surgery on 0117 32 86666. Students on Bower Ashton may find it more convenient to register with a local GP, but they’re still allowed to register with the Health Centre if they’d prefer.

At the time of writing, it’s looking like Covid-19 is going to be something we will have to learn to live with for a while longer. Always follow up to date health guidance given by the government and the NHS, including any distancing measures recommended. If you have symptoms, get a free test and isolate as required – call 119 or go online.

Stay safe from the coronavirus when you get to Bristol. Photo: Ruby Lopez

Sex and pregnancy support
Sex is part of the university experience for many. To make sure you have sex safely, always use contraception and get sexually transmitted infection (STI) tests regularly.

In Bristol, Unity Sexual Health provides free and confidential advice about sex, STIs, pregnancy, and sexual abuse.

In non-Covid times, Unity offers walk-in STI testing appointments at multiple sites across Bristol, or you can book an appointment over the phone at 0117 342 6900.

As well as appointments, Unity offers free at-home STI testing. Order a kit online or over the phone and it will be sent in a blank envelope with no reference to STI testing. Simply follow the instructions and post it back for free, and you’ll get your results texted to you.

Meeting a lot of new people can also expose you to new diseases and viruses. Apart from Covid-19, you should make sure that your vaccinations are up to date. Vaccines are completely safe, and most are completely free of charge.

Vaccines don’t just protect you, but also protect those who can’t get them due to health issues.

Make sure you have all the vaccines you need. Photo: Chris Melvin/Corp Comms

There have been outbreaks of mumps at multiple universities across the country, including in Bristol. Call your doctor to make sure you’ve had both doses of the MMR vaccine – though it won’t harm you to have the vaccine again. See the NHS website for more information. The vaccine is free.

Many may have missed this vaccine when they were younger due to incorrect information linking the MMR vaccine with autism; there is no evidence of any link between the MMR vaccine and autism, and the author of the original paper was struck off the medical register after it was found that he had acted dishonestly.

The NHS recommends that all freshers get the free MenACWY to prevent meningitis and septicaemia, which can be deadly. Contact your GP as soon as possible to get this vaccine. More information is available on the NHS website.

HPV vaccine
This vaccine protects against HPV, which can cause genital warts and even cancer.

Men who have sex with men and transgender women (men who were assigned male at birth) are eligible for the HPV vaccine, as they may not have benefitted from the longstanding programme administering this vaccine to girls in secondary school. Contact Unity Sexual Health or your local GP to get this potentially lifesaving vaccine free of charge.

Women who may have missed the vaccine in school should also check with their GP.

Stay fit and healthy at university. Photo: University of Bristol

Flu vaccine
This yearly vaccine protects against flu. It’s available free to at-risk groups, such as pregnant people and those with underlying health conditions.

Those who aren’t eligible for the free vaccine can also get it by paying around £10 – which can be handy when living in a larger household, where the virus might spread easily.

Whether you’re getting it for free or by paying, you can get it from most local pharmacies, including Boots and LloydsPharmacy. Those eligible for the free vaccine can also contact their GP. More information is available from the NHS website.

Main photo: James Koch

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