Influenza Information and Resources
What is influenza?
Influenza (flu) is a contagious respiratory illness caused by influenza viruses. It can cause mild to severe illness, and at times can lead to death. The Centers for Disease Control & Prevention recommends an annual flu vaccine for everyone 6 months of age and older. You still need to be re-vaccinated even if you have the vaccine last year. You cannot catch the flu from the flu vaccine. The influenza vaccine will prevent most cases of the flu; however, if you DO get the flu after you've been vaccinated, your symptoms will be milder & you will have less chance of serious complications.
What are the symptoms of flu?
Symptoms can include a fever of 100 degrees F or higher, cough and sore throat. In addition to these major symptoms, individuals may experience fatigue, headache, body aches, runny nose, nausea, vomiting or diarrhea.
What can I do to protect myself from getting sick?
There are everyday actions that can help prevent the spread of germs that cause respiratory illnesses like influenza. Take these steps to protect your health:
- Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Throw the tissue in the trash after you use it and clean your hands immediately.
- Wash your hands often with soap and water, especially after you cough or sneeze. Alcohol-based hand cleaners also are effective.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth. Germs spread that way.
- Don't share personal items.
- Practice other good health habits. Get plenty of sleep, be physically active, manage your stress, drink plenty of fluids, and eat nutritious food.
- Avoid getting close to people who are sick.
- Wash surfaces on your work space with a disinfectant daily. Wipe down shared keyboards, and telephones often.
- Get your annual flu shot when it becomes available to you.
Can I get my flu shot on-campus?
Update: We've concluded our annual fall flu clinic and exhausted our seasonal supply of flu vaccine. Those seeking flu shots this year are encouraged to check with local pharmacies that provide seasonal vaccinations. - January 2016.
What should students do if they have flu-like symptoms?
- If a student develops an influenza-like illness (ILI), he/she should self-isolate at home (leaving campus to return home is encouraged if private transportation is available) or in their residential hall space until at least 24 hours after they are free of fever, or signs of a fever, without the use of fever-reducing medicines.
- Students with flu like illness should not walk in to Student Health Services for care. This will keep students with flu like illness away from students seeking care for other conditions. Call Student Health Services for advice or with specific medical questions.
- Students who develop difficulty breathing or shortness of breath, pain or pressure in the chest or abdomen, sudden dizziness, confusion, severe or persistent vomiting, if flu-like symptoms improve but then return with fever and worse cough, should seek medical care. In an emergency, call 645-2222 from an on-campus location or 911 if you are off-campus.
- Rest, drink plenty of clear non-alcoholic fluids and take over-the-counter medications typically used to fever, such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen.
- Students should cover their mouth and nose with a tissue when coughing or sneezing. Promptly throw the tissue into the trash and wash hands with soap and water or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.
- Stay home, remain out of school, work, sports and community activities until you have been fever free for at least 24 hours without using fever reducing medicines. A fever is defined as 100ºF or 37.8ºC.
- Avoid having visitors. If visitors must enter your home, they should avoid close contact with you.
- Upon returning to full activity follow all infection control strategies including covering your cough, frequent hand-washing, social distancing and not sharing personal care items.
What can UB Parents do to support their student's health?
- Send a care package of personal health items. Items may include:
- Acetaminophen or Ibuprofen for pain, fevers
- Digital thermometer
- Antacids and/or antidiarrheals for upset stomach, heartburn, diarrhea, etc.
- Heating pad or instant hot packs
- Cool mist humidifier for winter months
- Hand sanitizer
If you have flu symptoms, should you come to campus?
As with any contagious illness, you should try to limit contact with others to contain the spread of the disease. It is best if you remain at home until you are better and no longer infectious.
What about classes and other academic obligations?
Evaluate your obligations for the next week and where necessary contact your instructors/employers directly to apprise them of your situation and to arrange an appropriate accommodation – e.g., accessing course material electronically, excused attendance, submitting papers or other coursework via email, re-scheduling a test, performing an alternative assignment, etc.
Does Student Health Services write medical notes for students who miss class?
The CDC asks that course instructors not require medical documentation to validate a student's illness or to return to work, as doctor's offices and medical facilities (including Student Health Services) may be extremely busy and will not be able to provide such documentation in a timely way. This echoes the existing UB excuse note policy.