Get An Annual Flu Shot
Getting an annual flu shot is the most effective way to prevent the flu. Getting vaccinated is especially important for people who are at high risk of infection, such as students (who live and study in crowded areas), health care workers, those who smoke, those over 50, children under 2 years of age, and those with weakened immune systems (e.g.,due to recent illness). The CDC currently recommends flu vaccination for everyone.
Since the strain of the flu virus changes every year, annual vaccines are needed. It takes about two weeks after vaccination for antibodies to develop in your body that protect you against the flu, so make plans to get vaccinated early in the fall, before flu season begins
Access the CDC Vaccine Information Statement (VIS) here.
Tips for Preventing the Flu
Getting an annual flu shot is the most effective way to prevent the flu.
Stay home if you’re sick.
Avoid infecting others. If you are sick, do not go to class or work.
Wash your hands often.
Use warm soap and water and scrub for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
Drink plenty of fluids and take over the counter medications that reduce fever such as ibuprofen (such as Aleve ®) or acetaminophen (such as Tylenol ®).
Cover your mouth when you cough or sneeze.
Use a tissue or your sleeve to cover coughs and sneezes. Wash your hands immediately after.
Clean commonly used items.
Items such as phones, remote controls, and faucets should be cleaned often to prevent the spread of germs.
Know the Signs and Symptoms
It’s easy to mistake a cold for the flu. Both can cause a sore throat, coughing, and congestion. The common cold can make you feel run down, but the flu can make it difficult for you to even get out of bed. Another big difference is that colds have a gradual onset of symptoms, while the flu shows a sudden onset of symptoms.
The flu can also bring:
- High-grade fever (over 100 degrees F)
- Body aches
- Possible vomiting and/or diarrhea
When to Seek Medical Attention
If you experience any of the following, you should seek medical attention, from Rutgers Health Services, your home doctor, or a local hospital.
- Fever is over 100 degrees F for more than 2–3 days
- Symptoms persist for more than 10 days
- Breathing is difficult and painful
- Swallowing fluids is difficult or painful
- The vaccine itself does not cause the flu!
- Over 20% of Rutgers students report missed assignments and lower grades due to colds and the flu.
- The flu (influenza) is an upper respiratory infection caused by a virus.
- The flu is highly contagious and is spread via the respiratory droplets of an infected person. It is spread through coughing, sneezing, or coming in contact with an infected surface, such as a contaminated doorknob or phone.
- Adults are contagious one day before symptoms appear and up to 7 days after they are ill.
- Flu outbreaks usually occur in the late fall and winter.
- While antibiotics cannot help you with a cold or the flu, antiviral medications may be indicated in certain situations. While they do not cure the flu, if given early enough (within the first 2 days of symptoms), they may decrease symptom duration.