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What you should know for the Flu Season

For more information,

visit the CDC's Influenza site.

How do I know if I have the flu?

Flu symptoms include fever, cough, and sore throat.  Many people also have headaches, fatigue and other symptoms.  It can be difficult to distinguish the flu from other upper respiratory viral infections, but the flu typically has fever and a quick onset.  If you experience these symptoms with a fever greater than 100 degrees, please contact Dick's House for an appointment during our office hours.  Our lobby vending machine sells inexpensive thermometers should you need one.

What can I do if I get the flu?

Antiviral drugs are prescription drugs that can be used to treat flu illness. Antiviral drugs are strongly recommended for people at high risk of serious flu complications (pregnant women, and people with chronic medical conditions such as asthma and diabetes)  Some other people can be treated with antivirals if their illness is severe.  This decision is made individually, and considers the risks of side effects of antiviral medications. Treatment with antivirals works best when begun within 48 hours of getting sick, but can still be beneficial when given later in the course of illness.

All people who are ill with the flu should also:

*Avoid social contact, including class attendance until 24 hours after fever has resolved

*Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue or elbow when coughing or sneezing

*Practice frequent hand washing

*Get plenty of sleep

*Increase fluid intake -- tea with honey often helps to soothe cough and throat discomfort

*Over the counter treatments may be used when helpful, but avoid any products containing aspirin

When should I worry?

Call or return to Dick's House for any of the following symptoms:

*Worsening fever or cough

*Shortness of breath

*Chest pain

*Vomiting

*Any other new symptoms of concern

Is it too late for the flu shot?

Although we have already begun to see flu on campus this year it is not too late for you to get your flu shot.  The flu season often extends for months and a flu shot now may reduce your risk of infection and the severity of disease should you get infected.

 

promo photo for flu vaccine

What sort of flu season is expected this year?

It's not possible to predict what this flu season will be like. Flu seasons are unpredictable in a number of ways. While flu spreads every year, the timing, severity, and length of the season varies from one year to another.

When will flu activity begin and when will it peak?

The timing of flu is very unpredictable and can vary in different parts of the country and from season to season. Most seasonal flu activity typically occurs between October and May. Flu activity most commonly peaks in the United States between December and February.

What should I do to protect myself from flu this season?

The CDC (and Dick's House) recommends a yearly flu vaccine for all Dartmouth community members as the first and most important step in protecting against this serious disease. People should begin getting vaccinated soon after flu vaccine becomes available, if possible by October, to ensure that as many people as possible are protected before flu season begins. However, as long as flu viruses are circulating in the community, it's not too late to get vaccinated.  It takes about two weeks after vaccination for antibodies to develop in the body and provide protection against the flu.

Check our home page for more information on availability of flu vaccine and to schedule an on-line appointment.

In addition to getting a seasonal flu vaccine if you have not already gotten vaccinated, you can take everyday preventive actions like staying away from sick people and washing your hands to reduce the spread of germs. If you are sick with flu, stay home from class or work to prevent spreading flu to others.

How effective is the flu vaccine and how long does it protect me?

Influenza vaccine effectiveness can vary from year to year and among different age and risk groups. For everyone, getting vaccinated each year provides the best protection against influenza throughout flu season. It's important to get a flu vaccine every season, even if you got vaccinated the season before and the viruses in the vaccine have not changed for the current season.

Multiple studies conducted over different seasons and across vaccine types and influenza virus subtypes have shown that the body's immunity to influenza viruses (acquired either through natural infection or vaccination) declines over time.

Can I get vaccinated and still get the flu?

Yes. It's possible to get sick with the flu even if you have been vaccinated (although you won't know for sure unless you get a flu test). This is possible for the following reasons:

You may be exposed to a flu virus shortly before getting vaccinated or during the period that it takes the body to gain protection after getting vaccinated. This exposure may result in you becoming ill with flu before the vaccine begins to protect you. (About 2 weeks after vaccination, antibodies that provide protection develop in the body).  You may be exposed to a flu virus that is not included in the seasonal flu vaccine. There are many different flu viruses that circulate every year. The flu vaccine is made to protect against the three or four flu viruses that research suggests will be most common.Unfortunately, some people can become infected with a flu virus the flu vaccine is designed to protect against, despite getting vaccinated. Protection provided by flu vaccination can vary widely, based in part on health and age factors of the person getting vaccinated. In general, the flu vaccine works best among healthy younger adults. Flu vaccination is not a perfect tool, but it is the best way to protect against flu infection.

 

For more information:

Seasonal Flu Vaccine FAQs

Free Resources: Print, Video and Web Tools

Last Updated: 2/1/18