The flu is a contagious respiratory illness caused by influenza viruses that easily pass from one person to another by coughing and sneezing.

For most people, the flu makes them feel very sick, but they generally get better in about a week. However, young people with chronic medical conditions may develop serious complications from the flu including dehydration, pneumonia, and worsening of medical conditions like heart disease, diabetes, or asthma.

Here are some tips to stay healthy:

  • Get a flu shot every year. The CDC recommends that college students protect themselves by getting vaccinated against regular seasonal and H1N1 flu as soon as possible. The combination seasonal flu/H1N1 vaccinations are available now. Getting a flu vaccine also means that you will not pass the flu to others.
  • Wash your hands. Wash your hands often with soap and water, or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
  • Cover your mouth when you cough or sneeze. Cough or sneeze into a tissue or the inside of your elbow. Throw tissues away and wash your hands.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth. This decreases the chance that you will get the flu virus or other germs into your body, or that you will pass the flu to others.
  • Clean things that are touched often. Clean things that are touched often at home, work or school, such as door or refrigerator handles, computer keyboards/mouse, phones and water faucets.
  • Avoid close contact with others who are sick. Avoid unnecessary holding, hugging or kissing anyone who has a cold or the flu. People with young children, immune system problems or a chronic illness should avoid large crowds, unless necessary.

Simple ways to reduce the spread of the flu and other illnesses:

  • Stay in your room to recover if you’re sick to avoid exposing others. Take advantage of the Meal Pick Up Program offered by Dining Services. If you are actively ill and you live nearby, you may choose to go home.
  • Cover your coughs and sneezes with a tissue or cough and sneeze into your sleeve.
  • Wash or sanitize your hands frequently.
  • Do not attend class while ill and keep out of class for 72 hours after you have recovered. Contact your faculty directly about your particular situation.
  • Flu usually lasts for several days and presents with high fever (over 100.5), headache, dry cough, nasal congestion, body aches and occasionally other symptoms – https://www.cdc.gov/flu/about/index.html.
  • It is not too late to get the flu vaccine – go to the nearest Walgreens or CVS pharmacy and get immunized!
  • If you have any severe gastrointestinal symptoms, including nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, bloody diarrhea and abdominal pain or feel very lightheaded, dizzy, have a high fever, stiff neck, are short of breath or your symptoms are worsening or not improving when Norton Medical Center is closed, call 911 or Public Safety.

To locate other flu vaccine clinics in your area, refer to the Massachusetts Department of Public Health’s Flu Vaccine Finder.

Remember, the flu ends with YOU! Take care of yourself and our community.

For more information, download the following:

Reduce your chances of contracting the flu or passing it on to others.
Download the MA Department of Public Health’s hand health fact sheet (pdf) for details.

For more information about influenza visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention or the Massachusetts Department of Public Health.

Source: Massachusetts Department of Public Health