Updated October 2018

Check out the information below, with common questions about how to stay healthy during the influenza season. Students with concerns about high risk should call or stop in at the Health Service and discuss their options.

Frequently Asked Questions and Answers

Should I get the seasonal flu shot?

Everyone over the age of six months should get a seasonal flu shot. The Center for Disease Control has identified “high risk” groups of people who should try to get vaccinated for seasonal flu. They include persons over age 65, children under two years old, nursing home patients, persons with chronic diseases (heart or lung disease, asthma, diabetes, immune system disease, emphysema, etc.), pregnant women, children on aspirin therapy, doctors, nurses, health-care providers, and parents of very young children, to name some. Anyone with conditions such as these, or more specific questions, should ask a doctor if he or she should try to receive the seasonal flu vaccine.

How can I stay healthy if I don't get the shot?

Take everyday actions to help prevent the spread of germs that cause respiratory illnesses. Try to avoid close contact with sick people. Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Throw the tissue in the trash after you use it. Wash your hands often with soap and water. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand rub. Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth. Germs spread this way.

Should I go to the doctor if I have the flu?

A person who becomes suddenly ill with headache, pain, fever, vomiting or extreme weakness, or is ill for more than a few days, or seems to be getting worse, should seek medical care. If the health center is not open, the local emergency room is your second resource. An ambulance can be called to locations on or off campus. Students should not report to the Health Service merely for an excuse for class.

What's the difference between the flu and a cold?

The major difference is the severity and duration of the illness. Both are caused by different viruses and, therefore, are easily transmitted. The flu generally involves a high fever, body aches, muscle aches, a cough, and profound weakness. Vomiting and/or diarrhea can also be present. It can begin suddenly and get worse quickly. Symptoms of the flu can last for more than a week. A cold has congestion and runny nose as classic symptoms. Sore throat, cough, and a mild fever may be present with a cold. Symptoms of a cold can last up to seven to ten days.

Are there other medicines for the flu?

Yes, antiviral drugs are prescription medicines (pills, liquid, or an inhaled powder) that fight against the flu in your body. While a flu vaccine is the first and most important step in preventing flu, antiviral drugs are a second line of defense to treat the flu if you get sick. Antiviral drugs are not sold over the counter; you must have a prescription to get them. Antiviral drugs are not a substitute for vaccination.

If my roommate gets the flu, will I get it?

Each person's immune system and general health play a part in whether you get sick. Despite all the precautions suggested, the strength of the virus involved and the amount of exposure will determine your risk of coming down with influenza.

For more information about preventing seasonal flu, visit the Centers for Disease Control website.