Vaccination is the most effective method for preventing the flu and its potentially severe complications.
The Health Clinic offers free vaccination against the flu every fall. All types of flu vaccines are very safe; they do not cause influenza.
While everyone is advised to get a flu vaccine each flu season, it's especially important that certain people get vaccinated either because they are at high risk for having serious flu-related complications or because they live with or care for people at high risk for developing them.
Some people are particularly advised to get vaccinated against flu. These include people with the following conditions or those in close contact with them:
- Pregnant women
- People age 50 years and older
- People of any age with chronic health conditions, such as asthma, diabetes, heart disease, immuno-suppressing diseases, such as cancer, HIV or rheumatological conditions such as lupus
- People who live in or visit nursing homes and other long-term care facilities
- Contacts of person at high risk for complications from influenza;
- Household contacts and out-of-home caregivers of children younger than six months of age
- Healthcare workers
People who should not be vaccinated include:
- Those who have had a severe reaction to an influenza vaccination in the past
- People who have developed Guillain-Barré Syndrome within six weeks of getting an influenza vaccine
- People who are ill with fever
In addition to flu vaccination, the Health Clinic recommends that all faculty, staff, and students take the following flu/respiratory disease precautions:
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
- When you are sick, keep your distance from others to protect them from getting sick as well.
- Cough or sneeze into the crook of your arm or your upper shoulder, not into your hands.
- If using a tissue to your nose or mouth, immediately dispose of the used tissue in a wastebasket and wash your hands.
- Wash your hands with soap and water frequently. If soap and water are unavailable, use an alcohol-based hand gel.
- Avoid sharing food, drink, and utensils.
What Do I Do if I Come Down With a Flu-like Illness?
The majority of individuals who contract flu viruses will not need to seek care from a health care provider unless pregnant or sick with an underlying chronic medical condition, such as diabetes, cancer, asthma, heart or lung problems, or a weakened immune system. If you are in a high-risk category, contact your health care provider. Students should call the Health Clinic at 718.951.5580.
Faculty, staff, and students who are ill with flu should remain at home for at least 24 hours after being fever-free without the aid of medication such as acetaminophen (Tylenol) or ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin) or other drugs that lower temperature. A mild lingering cough may occur, but barring any other flu symptoms, this cough should not prevent students from returning to class.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention provides further information on the flu and on flu vaccination.