Public Health Advisory from Student Health Services
Influenza in a COVID-19 World
The fall and winter months are prime flu season and 2020-2021 could be very interesting with COVID-19 still in circulation in our communities. It is difficult to determine what to expect this season. Will flu rates be high? Will COVID-19 have a resurgence in our area? With all this uncertainty, a flu vaccine is highly recommended this year. Both COVID-19 and Influenza are upper respiratory illnesses with some overlapping symptoms. Getting the flu vaccine can reduce your personal chance of getting the flu or reduce the severity of your illness if you do get the flu. Flu prevention will decrease the burden of respiratory illnesses on our health care system. It is possible for someone to become infected with both Flu and COVID-19 at the same time, so give your immune system some extra help by getting the annual flu vaccine. Here is some more information about influenza (FLU).
What is the Flu?
The flu is a viral illness that is most common in the fall and winter months. This is a very contagious illness that is spread by droplets that are released when the infected person coughs, sneezes or even talks in close proximity to others. People can also get sick by touching their nose or mouth after touching a contaminated object such as a doorknob, table or a hand; the virus can live on untreated surfaces for several hours.
Symptoms of the flu include: fever, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, feeling weak and tired, headache, chills, body aches, vomiting and diarrhea. Not everyone will experience the flu the same way or have all these symptoms, but most who have the flu feel extremely sick. You should see or your Health Care provider if you have a fever or other flu symptoms.
The flu can have serious complications including: shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, pain or pressure in the chest, sudden dizziness, confusion, constant vomiting or return of symptoms after feeling better. These are all situations that require emergency medical care.
Most otherwise healthy people recover from the flu with rest, fluids and medications to control fever. The use of antiviral medications can be discussed with your healthcare provider.
Vaccinate: It is never too late to get the flu vaccine. The vaccine is available at many retail pharmacies, primary care providers and health departments. Getting the vaccine can lessen the course of the illness if you do get infected. It is recommended to get the flu vaccine is September or October for optimal benefit. Student Health Services in cooperation with Community Medical Care will hold 4 flu and Vaccine Clinics in September. Information is at the bottom of this page.
Isolation: If you do not have the flu, stay away from people who are sick. If you do have the flu, stay at home and rest. Resident students will be asked to convalesce at home if possible. Cover your nose or mouth with a tissue or your arm when you cough or sneeze. Dispose of tissues in the trash and wash your hands.
Students should contact their professors; let them know Student Health Services or some other health care provider has diagnosed you with the flu. If you will be out of class longer than five consecutive days, contact Student Health Services about a short term leave of absence or medical leave of absence. Do not return to school until you are fever free, without the use of fever reducers, for 24 hours, or as directed by your healthcare provider.
Faculty and staff should stay at home if you experience flu like illness and contact your primary care provider. Contact your supervisor to notify him/her of your need for sick leave. If your period of absence extends for five consecutive days or more, you may need to request a medical leave of absence by contacting the Office of Human Resources. If you become sick at work with flu like illness, you should notify your supervisor of your need for sick leave and contact your primary care provider.
Cleaning: WASH YOUR HANDS! This is the simplest and most important thing you can do. Wash with soap and warm water often. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol based hand sanitizer.
Clean and disinfect surfaces such as doorknobs, keyboards, desks, phones, etc. Flu viruses are killed by heat above 167F and many common household products. Products containing chlorine, hydrogen peroxide, detergents, iodophors (iodine-based antiseptics) and alcohols will kill the flu virus.
NOTE: Mixing bleach with ammonia is extremely dangerous and is NOT recommended, since toxic vapors will be produced.
If you have more questions, regarding policies students can contact Student Health Services at (908) 737-4880. Faculty staff can contact Human Resources at (908) 737-3300. You can also get reliable updates at the Center for Disease Control and Prevention at https://www.cdc.gov/flu/index.htm.
Tentative Dates for Flu and Vaccine Clinics for Fall 2020
Community Medical Care will be on campus on the following day to administer flu vaccines and other common required immunizations.
August 31 (Resident Move In)-Confirmed
Students should RSVP via Cougarlink. All participants will need to register for an appointment. Look for an email regarding registration, coming soon.
All events will be held at The Wellness Center in the Downs Hall Conference Room. August 31 from 10 am to 2 pm and the remaining dates from 11 am to 6 pm. They accept many major insurances, but for more information insurances and other inquiries call (908)994-1500. The cash price for the vaccines are as follows
Flu vaccine: $30.00
Meningococcal (Menactra): $159.00
Hepatitis B: $145.00