Health Services - H1N1 (Swine) Influenza: Frequently Asked Questions
General Health Questions
- What is H1N1 (swine) flu?
- Why are people concerned about this particular strain?
- What are the symptoms of H1N1 flu?
- How do you catch H1N1 flu?
- What’s the incubation period for H1N1 flu?
- What can I do to protect myself from getting sick?
- What should I do if I develop flu-like symptoms?
- What are fever reducing medicines?
- Are there confirmed cases of H1N1 flu in New Jersey?
- What should I do if I think I have been exposed to the flu?
- I am an employee feeling sick. Should I still report to work?
- I am a visitor on campus and am experiencing flu-like symptoms. What should I do?
- I had a flu vaccine this year. Can I still get H1N1 flu?
- Is there a vaccine available to protect me against H1N1 flu?
- Are there anti-viral medications that I can take?
- Should people take extra measures, like wearing surgical masks to avoid exposure?
H1N1 (swine) Influenza is a respiratory disease caused by the type A influenza virus. This new virus was first detected in people in the United States in April 2009. This virus is spreading from person-to-person, probably in much the same way that regular seasonal influenza viruses spread. This strain of influenza virus usually affects pigs, but may also make people sick. When an H1N1 flu influenza virus does affect a human, there is a risk that the animal influenza virus can change genetically and then spread directly between humans.
The current strain is a new variation of an H1N1 virus, which is a mix of human and animal versions of H1N1 virus. The H1N1 flu viruses are different genetically from the human H1N1 viruses, and therefore humans lack immunity to protect against the H1N1 flu viruses. The World Health Organization has urged governments to take precautions to prevent the spread of this strain of H1N1 flu virus.
Symptoms of H1N1 influenza are similar to seasonal influenza and include fever, cough, sore throat, body aches, headache, chills and fatigue. Some people have also reported diarrhea and vomiting.
The current strain of H1N1 influenza circulating around the world is contagious and is believed to be spreading among humans in the same way that the seasonal flu spreads. Influenza is thought to spread primarily person-to-person through coughing or sneezing by infected people, or when someone touches something with flu viruses on it and then touches their mouth or nose. Infected people may be able to spread the virus to others beginning one day (24 hours) before symptoms develop, and up to seven or more days after becoming sick. This means it is important to practice good hygiene at all times, even if you have not developed symptoms, in order to reduce the risk of spreading sickness. [See also the question below: What can I do to protect myself from getting sick?]
Flu symptoms usually develop within three to four days of contact with an infected person, though it may take up to seven days.
It is important to practice good hygiene at all times, and there are everyday actions people can take to stay healthy:
Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze, and properly dispose of the tissue.
If you do not have a tissue, sneeze or cough into the bend of your arm rather than into your hands to reduce the spread of germs.
Wash your hands often with soap and water, especially after you cough or sneeze. Alcohol-based hands cleaners are also effective.
Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth to prevent the spread of germs.
Try to avoid close contact with sick people.
Students: Students experiencing flu-like symptoms should stay home and call their Primary Care Provider. If you are living on campus, students should immediately report to Health Services at Downs Hall Room 126 or call 908-737-4880 for testing. Upon reporting to Health Services, please let the front staff aware you are experiencing flu-like symptoms. After Hours, call Campus Police at 908-737-4800. [See also the above question: What are the symptoms of H1N1 flu?]
Faculty and Staff: Faculty and staff experiencing flu-like symptoms should stay home and immediately contact their personal physicians. Employees should also notify Human Resources at 908-737-3300.
***If you get sick, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that you stay home until you are at least 24 hours fever free without the use of fever reducing medicines.
Fever reducing medicines include: acetaminophen (Tylenol®), ibuprofen (Motrin®, Advil®), aspirin (this medication should not be given to persons under the age of 18), and naproxen (Aleve®)
New Jersey has joined the US Centers for Disease Control in ceasing reports of individual case counts of confirmed and probable novel H1N1 flu. The nation's traditional flu surveillance systems are now being used to track both novel H1N1 and seasonal flu. Learn more by visiting the Department's Influenza Surveillance page,
Students, who were exposed to someone who has told them they had H1N1 flu or who are experiencing flu-like symptoms should maintain their distance from other individuals and immediately call their Primary Care Provider. Students who live on campus should immediately call Health Services at 908-737-4880 or Campus Police after hours 908-737-74800 for assistance. Upon reporting to Health Services, please let the front staff aware you are experiencing flu-like symptoms or have been exposed to someone who has had H1N1.
Faculty and staff experiencing flu-like symptoms should return home, maintain their distance from others and immediately contact their personal physicians. Employees should also notify Human Resources at 908-737-3300.
***If you get sick, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that you stay home until you are at least 24 hours fever free without the use of fever reducing medicines
If you are experiencing flu-like symptoms, such as fever, cough, sore throat, runny nose or vomiting, employees should stay home from work and notify your supervisor of your absence. Employees feeling sick should immediately contact their personal physicians and their department supervisor.
" src="/admin/CuteSoft_Client/CuteEditor/Images/anchor.gif">" src="/admin/CuteSoft_Client/CuteEditor/Images/anchor.gif">I am a visitor on campus and am experiencing flu-like symptoms. What should I do?
If you are a visitor to campus you should return home and immediately call your Primary Care Provider.
The seasonal flu vaccine provided during the fall 2009 flu season does not provide protection against the H1N1 influenza virus.
Yes. The H1N1 vaccine available will protect against the H1N1 influenza.
Antiviral drugs can be used to treat H1N1 flu or to prevent infection with H1N1 flu viruses, and they must be prescribed by a health care professional. At this time, the release of effective antiviral agents is being regulated by federal and state health authorities. The antivirals are being released to hospitals and to pharmacies in very restricted quantities. The state of New Jersey has a stock available of antivirals and will determine the distribution of antivirals to respond to public health needs.
" src="/admin/CuteSoft_Client/CuteEditor/Images/anchor.gif">" src="/admin/CuteSoft_Client/CuteEditor/Images/anchor.gif">Should people take extra measures, like wearing surgical masks to avoid exposure?
Because information on the effectiveness of facemasks or respirators for the control of influenza in community settings is limited, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is currently encouraging individuals to practice good hygiene and take the normal precautions to protect themselves as they would from regular seasonal flu. [See the above question: What can I do to protect myself from getting sick?]
Should you choose to purchase a facemask, masks cleared by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for use as medical devices have been determined to help protect penetration of blood and body fluids. This includes facemasks labeled as surgical, dental, medical procedure, isolation or laser masks, and these typically are available for purchase at local pharmacies, supermarkets or hardware stores.
- What steps is the University taking to respond to H1N1 flu?
- What is the University doing to prevent sickness on campus?
- What is the current effect on University operations?
- What is the current effect on University offices?
- Will this have an effect University events?
- How will people receive information about H1N1 influenza and how it's affecting the University?
University administrators are monitoring the situation and developing precautionary measures to address this health issue. The University's Health Services have been in communication with public health officials, and continue to respond to direction provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The University is taking a range of steps to encourage all members of the community to be vigilant in practicing good hygiene.
Students experiencing flu-like symptoms or who were exposed to someone who has told them they had H1N1 flu have been asked to return home, maintain their distance from other individuals and immediately call Health Services at 908-737-4880. Students with fever and flu-like symptoms will be evaluated and isolated to help minimize the spread of the infection.
We also are asking faculty and staff experiencing flu-like symptoms or who were exposed to someone who has told them they had H1N1 flu to return home and contact their primary care provider.
There is no immediate impact on the University community, our operations, or activities.
Employees are expected to report to work as usual. Employees should continue to practice good hygiene at all times and employees experiencing flu-like symptoms should immediately contact their primary care provider. If you get sick, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that you stay home until you are at least 24 hours fever free without the use of fever reducing medicines
At this time there is no immediate impact on the University, our operations or activities. The University has no plans to limit visitors to campus or to disrupt planned activities, but we continue to recommend that individuals planning trips heed information provided by health authorities as they consider traveling, and to consult a primary care provider before traveling if they have flu-like symptoms.
" src="/admin/CuteSoft_Client/CuteEditor/Images/anchor.gif">" src="/admin/CuteSoft_Client/CuteEditor/Images/anchor.gif">How will people receive information about H1N1 influenza and how it's affecting the University?
We understand the concerns about this public health issue, and we are committed to keeping members of our community informed.
The University has and will continue to update students, faculty and staff about this public health issue through e-mails to the campus community and updates on the University's H1N1 flu website at: http://www.kean.edu/~health/H1N1_Flu_new.htm
Depending upon the situation, the University also may post announcements on the University homepage at www.kean.edu and/or send alerts via phone, e-mail and text message through the University's campus alert system.
- Will this vaccine be made differently than the seasonal influenza vaccine?
- Will two doses of vaccine be required?
- What will be the recommended interval between the first and second dose for children 9 years of age and under?
- Why does CDC advise pregnant women to receive the 2009 H1N1 influenza (flu) vaccine (shot)?
- Are there flu vaccines that pregnant women should not get?
- Can the seasonal flu shot and the 2009 H1N1 flu shot be given at the same time?
- Is the 2009 H1N1 flu shot safe for pregnant women?
- Does the 2009 H1N1 flu shot have mercury in it?
- Does the 2009 H1N1 flu shot have an adjuvant or squalene in it?
- Can the 2009 H1N1 flu shot be given at any time during pregnancy?
- How many 2009 H1N1 flu shots will a pregnant woman need to get?
- Should the 2009 H1N1 flu shot be given to a pregnant woman who has had flu between April 2009 and now? Do I need a test to know if I need the shot or not?
- What are the possible side effects of the 2009 H1N1 flu shots?
- Is the 2009 H1N1 flu shot expected to be associated with Guillain-Barre Syndrome (GBS)?
- Can family members of a pregnant woman receive the nasal spray vaccine?
- Can a pregnant health care provider give the live nasal spray flu vaccine?
- If a pregnant woman delivers her baby before receiving her seasonal flu shot or her 2009 H1N1 flu shot, should she still receive them?
- Can a breastfeeding mother receive flu shots?
- Are there any side effects to the 2009 H1N1 influenza vaccine?
The seasonal flu vaccine is not expected to protect against the 2009 H1N1 flu.
Inactivated 2009 H1N1 vaccine can be administered at the same visit as any other vaccine, including pneumococcal polysaccharide vaccine. Live 2009 H1N1 vaccine can be administered at the same visit as any other live or inactivated vaccine EXCEPT seasonal live attenuated influenza vaccine.
CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) has recommended that certain groups of the population receive the 2009 H1N1 vaccine when it first becomes available. These target groups include pregnant women, people who live with or care for children younger than 6 months of age, healthcare and emergency medical services personnel, persons between the ages of 6 months and 24 years old, and people ages of 25 through 64 years of age who are at higher risk for 2009 H1N1 because of chronic health disorders or compromised immune systems.
Currently the H1N1 vaccine is available and encouraged to any person who desires vaccination.
No. This vaccine will be made using the same processes and facilities that are used to make the currently licensed seasonal influenza vaccines.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved the use of one dose of 2009 H1N1 flu vaccine for persons 10 years of age and older. This is slightly different from CDC’s recommendations for seasonal influenza vaccination which states that children younger than 9 who are being vaccinated against influenza for the first time need to receive two doses. Infants younger than 6 months of age are too young to get the 2009 H1N1 and seasonal flu vaccines.
" src="/admin/CuteSoft_Client/CuteEditor/Images/anchor.gif">" src="/admin/CuteSoft_Client/CuteEditor/Images/anchor.gif">What will be the recommended interval between the first and second dose for children 9 years of age and under?
CDC recommends that the two doses of 2009 H1N1 vaccine be separated by 4 weeks. However, if the second dose is separated from the first dose by at least 21 days, the second dose can be considered valid.
" src="/admin/CuteSoft_Client/CuteEditor/Images/anchor.gif">" src="/admin/CuteSoft_Client/CuteEditor/Images/anchor.gif">Why does CDC advise pregnant women to receive the 2009 H1N1 influenza (flu) vaccine (shot)?
Getting the flu shot is the single best way to protect against the flu. It is important for a pregnant woman to receive both the 2009 H1N1 flu shot and the seasonal flu shot. A pregnant woman who gets any type of flu has a greater chance for serious health problems. Compared with people in general who get 2009 H1N1 flu (formerly called “swine flu”), pregnant women with 2009 H1N1 flu are more likely to be admitted to hospitals. Pregnant women are also more likely to have serious illness and death from 2009 H1N1 flu.
When a pregnant woman gets a flu shot, it can protect both her and her baby. Research has found that pregnant women who had a flu shot get sick less often with the flu than do pregnant women who did not get a flu shot. Babies born to mothers who had a flu shot in pregnancy also get sick with flu less often than do babies whose mothers did not get a flu shot.
The seasonal and 2009 H1N1 flu vaccines can by given by shot or by nasal spray. Pregnant women should get the "flu shot"—a vaccine made with killed flu virus. This one is given with a needle, usually in the arm. The other type of flu vaccine—a nasal spray—is not approved for pregnant women. This vaccine is made with live, weakened flu virus. Nasal spray flu vaccine should be used only in healthy people 2-49 years of age who are not pregnant. The nasal spray vaccine is safe for women after they have delivered, even if they are nursing.
Seasonal and 2009 H1N1 flu shots can be given on the same day but should be given at different sites (e.g. one shot in the left arm and the other shot in the right arm).
The seasonal flu shot has been given to millions of pregnant women over many years. Flu shots have not been shown to cause harm to pregnant women or their babies. The 2009 H1N1 flu vaccine is being made in the same way and at the same places where the seasonal flu vaccine is made.
There is no evidence that thimerosal (a mercury preservative in vaccine that comes in multi-dose vials) is harmful to a pregnant woman or a fetus. However, because some women are concerned about thimerosal during pregnancy, vaccine companies are making preservative-free seasonal flu vaccine and 2009 H1N1 flu vaccine in single dose syringes for pregnant women and small children. CDC advises pregnant women to get flu shots either with or without thimerosal.
Adjuvants are agents that are sometimes added to a vaccine to make it more effective. There are no adjuvants (such as squalene) in either the 2009 H1N1 or seasonal flu shot used in the United States.
Both seasonal flu shots and 2009 H1N1 flu shots are recommended to pregnant women at any time during pregnancy.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved the use of one shot for full protection for persons 10 years and older. Therefore, a pregnant woman is recommended to get one dose of the 2009 H1N1 vaccine.
" src="/admin/CuteSoft_Client/CuteEditor/Images/anchor.gif">" src="/admin/CuteSoft_Client/CuteEditor/Images/anchor.gif">Should the 2009 H1N1 flu shot be given to a pregnant woman who has had flu between April 2009 and now? Do I need a test to know if I need the shot or not?
A pregnant woman who had a flu-like illness at any time in the past should still get the 2009 H1N1 shot because she cannot assume that the illness she had was caused by the 2009 H1N1 virus. Those pregnant women that had flu symptoms in the past do not need to be tested now, but should get the vaccine.
The side effects from 2009 H1N1 flu shots are expected to be like those from seasonal flu shots. The most common side effects after flu shots are mild, such as being sore and tender, red and swollen where the shot was given. Some people might have headache, muscle aches, fever, and nausea or feel tired. If these problems happen, they usually begin soon after the shot and may last as long as 1-2 days. Some people may faint after getting any shot. Sometimes, flu shots can cause serious problems like severe allergic reactions. But, life-threatening allergic reactions to vaccines are very rare. A person who has a severe (life-threatening) allergy to eggs or to anything else in the vaccine should not get the shot, even if she is pregnant. Pregnant women should tell the person giving the shots if they have any severe allergies or if they have ever had a severe allergic reaction following a flu shot.
" src="/admin/CuteSoft_Client/CuteEditor/Images/anchor.gif">" src="/admin/CuteSoft_Client/CuteEditor/Images/anchor.gif">Is the 2009 H1N1 flu shot expected to be associated with Guillain-Barre Syndrome (GBS)?
In 1976, an earlier type of swine flu vaccine was associated with cases of a severe paralytic illness called Guillain-Barre Syndrome (GBS) at a rate of approximately 1 case of GBS per 100,000 persons vaccinated. Some studies done since 1976 have shown a small risk of GBS in persons who received the seasonal influenza vaccine. This risk is estimated to be no more than 1 case of GBS per 1 million persons vaccinated. Pregnant women should tell the person giving the shots if they have ever had GBS.
Pregnant women should not receive nasal spray for the seasonal or 2009 H1N1 flu vaccine, but it is okay for a pregnant woman to be around a family or other close contact who has received nasal spray flu vaccine. The nasal spray vaccine can be used in healthy people 2-49 years of age who are not pregnant and in women after they deliver, even if they are nursing.
Yes. No special precautions are needed. Nurses and doctors should wash their hands or use an alcohol-based hand rub before and after giving the vaccine.
" src="/admin/CuteSoft_Client/CuteEditor/Images/anchor.gif">" src="/admin/CuteSoft_Client/CuteEditor/Images/anchor.gif">If a pregnant woman delivers her baby before receiving her seasonal flu shot or her 2009 H1N1 flu shot, should she still receive them?
Yes. Besides protecting her from infection, the shot may also help protect her young infant. Flu shots are only given to infants 6 months of age and older. Everyone who lives with or gives care to an infant less than 6 months of age should get both the seasonal flu and 2009 H1N1 vaccines. A woman can get either the shots or the nasal spray after she delivers.
Yes. Both seasonal and 2009 H1N1 flu shots or nasal spray should be given to breastfeeding mothers. Breastfeeding is fully compatible with flu vaccination, and preventing the flu in mothers can reduce the chance that the infant will get the flu. Also, by breastfeeding, mothers can pass on to the infant the antibodies that their bodies make in response to the flu shots, which can reduce the infant’s chances of getting sick with the flu. This is especially important for infants less than 6 months old, who have no other way of receiving vaccine antibodies, since they are too young to be vaccinated.
CDC expects that any side effects following vaccination with the 2009 H1N1 influenza vaccine would be rare. If side effects occur, they will likely be similar to those experienced following seasonal influenza vaccine. Mild problems that may be experienced include soreness, redness, or swelling where the shot was given, fainting (mainly adolescents), headache, muscle aches, fever, and nausea. If these problems occur, they usually begin soon after the shot and last 1-2 days. Life-threatening allergic reactions to vaccines are very rare. If they do occur, it is usually within a few minutes to a few hours after the shot is given.
After vaccination you should look for any unusual condition, such as a high fever or behavior changes. Signs of a serious allergic reaction can include difficulty breathing, hoarseness or wheezing, swelling around the eyes or lips, hives, paleness, weakness, a fast heart beat or dizziness. If any unusual condition occurs following vaccination, seek medical attention right away. Tell your doctor what happened, the date and time it happened, and when the vaccination was given. Ask your doctor, nurse, or health department to report the reaction by filing a Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS) form. Or you can file this report yourself through the VAERS Web site at www.vaers.hhs.gov. You may call 1-800-822-7967 to receive a copy of the VAERS form. VAERS is not able to provide medical advice.
A complete list of possible side effects from both the flu shot and the nasal spray (LAIV or Flu Mist) vaccines are below:
The flu shot: The viruses in the flu shot are killed (inactivated), so you cannot get the flu from a flu shot. Some minor side effects that could occur are:
- Soreness, redness, or swelling where the shot was given
- Fever (low grade)
If these problems occur, they begin soon after the shot and usually last 1 to 2 days. Almost all people who receive influenza vaccine have no serious problems from it. However, on rare occasions, flu vaccination can cause serious problems, such as severe allergic reactions. As of July 1, 2005, people who think that they have been injured by the flu shot can file a claim for compensation from the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program (VICP).
FOR FURTHER INFORMATION ON THE H1N1 VACCINE GO TO THE CENTERS FOR DISEASE CONTROL WEBSITE AT http://www.cdc.gov/h1n1flu/vaccination/