Frequently Asked Questions

Q. As a parent of a student who attends an U of H, should I bring them home?

If possible, residential students with flu-like illness whose families live relatively close to the campus should go home to self-isolate. They should return home in a way that limits contact with others as much as possible. For example, travel by private car or taxi would be preferable over use of public transportation. They should stay away from other people until at least 24 hours after they no longer have a fever (100 degrees Fahrenheit or 38 degrees Celsius) or signs of a fever (have chills, feel very warm, have a flushed appearance, or are sweating). This should be determined without the use of fever-reducing medications (any medicine that contains ibuprofen or acetaminophen). If flu severity increases, students at higher risk for flu complications including students, faculty, and staff with certain chronic medical conditions like heart disease, diabetes, or asthma, or who are pregnant may consider staying home while flu transmission is high in their institution community. Currently, the CDC is not recommending removing healthy students from their institutions.

Q. Should I get antiviral medicine if I get sick?

People at higher risk for flu complications including students, faculty, and staff with certain chronic medical conditions (such as asthma, heart disease, or diabetes) who become sick with flu-like illness should call their health care provider as soon as possible to determine if they need antiviral treatment. Early treatment with antiviral medicines often can prevent hospitalizations and deaths. Parents should encourage sick students who are at higher risk for flu complications to seek early treatment. Antiviral medicines are not given to all people during flu season because most people get better on their own, over-use can promote antiviral-resistant viruses, and administration of antiviral medicines can cause adverse reactions in some people.

Q. What steps can students, faculty, and staff take to stay healthy and keep from spreading the flu?

Here are four important ways faculty, students, and staff can stay healthy and keep from getting sick with flu or spreading the flu. They can:

  • Practice good hand hygiene. They should wash their hands often with soap and water, especially after coughing or sneezing. Alcohol-based hand cleaners are also effective.
  • Practice respiratory etiquette. The main way flu spreads is from person to person in droplets produced by coughs and sneezes, so it’s important that people cover their mouth and nose with a tissue when they cough or sneeze. If they don’t have a tissue, they should cough or sneeze into their elbow or shoulder, not their hands.
  • Stay home if they are sick. Stay home or in their place of residence for at least 24 hours after they no long have a fever.
  • Talk to their health care providers about whether they should be vaccinated.


Students, faculty, and staff who want protection from the flu can be encouraged to get vaccinated for seasonal flu. Also students, faculty, and staff who are at higher risk for flu complications from 2009 H1N1 flu, should consider getting the H1N1 vaccine when it becomes available. People at higher risk for 2009 H1N1 flu complications include pregnant women and people with chronic medical conditions (such as asthma, heart disease, or diabetes). For more information about priority groups for vaccination, visit www.cdc.gov/h1n1flu/vaccination/acip.htm.

Students, faculty, and staff should take personal responsibility to help slow the spread of the flu virus. By practicing these steps, they can keep from getting sick from flu and help protect others from getting the flu.

Q. Who should receive a flu vaccination?

Vaccines will be available this year to protect against seasonal flu. Children 6 months through 18 years of age, people of any age with chronic medical conditions (such as asthma, heart disease, or diabetes), and everyone age 50 and older should be vaccinated against seasonal flu as early as possible.

The 2009 H1N1 flu vaccine should be available in the fall of 2009. Certain groups at higher risk for complications from this flu are recommended to get the 2009 H1N1 flu vaccine when it first becomes available. These groups include:

  • pregnant women,
  • people who live with and care for children younger than 6 months of age,
  • healthcare and emergency medical services personnel,
  • people between the ages of 6 months and 24 years (this includes most students attending institutions of higher education), and people ages 25–64 years of age who have chronic health conditions (such as asthma, heart disease, or diabetes) or compromised immune systems.


Q. Which students, faculty, and staff are at higher risk for complications from flu?

Anyone can get the flu (even healthy people) and anyone can have serious problems from the flu. Students, faculty, and staff should be encouraged to talk with their health care provider to determine if they are at higher risk for flu complications, especially if they have been in close contact with others who are sick with flu or flu-like illness. Some groups are at higher risk for complications from the flu. These include children younger than 5 years of age, pregnant women, people of any age with chronic health conditions (such as asthma, diabetes, or heart disease) and people 65 years of age and older.

Q. What actions should pregnant students, faculty, or staff take to protect themselves from the flu?

Pregnant women should follow the same guidance as the general public related to staying home when sick, hand hygiene, respiratory etiquette, and routine cleaning.

Pregnant women are at higher risk of complications from flu and, like all people at higher risk, should speak with their health care provider as soon as possible if they develop flu-like symptoms. Early treatment with antiviral flu medicines is recommended for pregnant women who have the flu; these medicines are most effective when started within the first 48 hours of feeling sick.

Pregnant women should know that they are part of the first priority group to receive the 2009 H1N1 flu vaccine when it becomes available. Seasonal flu vaccine is also recommended for pregnant women and can be given at any time during pregnancy.

Q. What are the symptoms of seasonal flu and the 2009 H1N1 flu?

Symptoms of flu include fever or chills and cough or sore throat. In addition, symptoms of flu can include runny nose, body aches, headache, tiredness, diarrhea, or vomiting.

Q. How do I recognize a fever or signs of a fever?

A fever is a temperature that is equal to or greater than 100 degrees Fahrenheit or 38 degrees Celsius when taken with a thermometer. Look for these possible signs of fever: if he or she feels very warm, has a flushed appearance, or is sweating or shivering.

Q. How do I know if someone has 2009 H1N1 flu or seasonal flu?

It will be very hard to tell if someone who is sick has 2009 H1N1 flu or seasonal flu. Public health officials and medical authorities will not be recommending laboratory tests. Anyone who has the symptoms of flu-like illness should stay home and not go to work. Symptoms of flu include fever or chills and cough or sore throat. In addition, symptoms of flu can include runny nose, body aches, headache, tiredness, diarrhea, or vomiting.

Q. What fever-reducing medications can students, faculty, and staff take when sick?

Fever-reducing medications are medicines that contain acetaminophen (such as Tylenol) or ibuprofen (such as Motrin). These medicines can be given to people who are sick with flu to help bring their fever down and relieve their pain. Aspirin (acetylsalicylic acid) should not be given to anyone younger than 18 years of age who have flu; this can cause a rare but serious illness called Reye’s syndrome.

Q. What is self-isolation?

Self-isolation is when sick people stay home and away from other people until they no longer have a fever (100 degrees Fahrenheit or 38 degrees Celsius) or signs of a fever (have chills, feel very warm, have flushed appearance, or are sweating). This should be determined without the use of fever-reducing medications (any medicine that contains ibuprofen or acetaminophen). During the period of self-isolation, sick people should limit contact with others and try to maintain a distance of at least 6 feet from people. If close contact cannot be avoided, sick people should wear a surgical mask when they are around other people, if they can tolerate it.

During current flu conditions, people who are sick should stay home and away from other people until at least 24 hours after they no longer have a fever or signs of a fever. If flu conditions become more severe, those who are sick should stay at their home, dormitory, or residence hall for at least 7 days, even if symptoms go away sooner. People who are still sick after 7 days should continue to stay home until at least 24 hours after symptoms have gone away.

Q. What steps should I take if my roommate is sick with the flu?

  • You should limit your contact with your sick room and try to maintain a distance of 6 feet from him or her.
  • If close contact cannot be avoided, your sick roommate should wear a surgical mask, if tolerable, when he or she is around you and other people.
  • You should frequently clean commonly-touched surfaces.


  • Q. How long should a student, faculty member, or staff member with the flu stay at home or in their residence?

    Under current flu conditions, faculty, students, and staff with flu-like symptoms should stay home for at least 24 hours after they no longer have a fever (100 degrees Fahrenheit or 38 degrees Celsius) or signs of a fever (have chills, feel very warm, have a flushed appearance, or are sweating). This should be determined without the use of fever-reducing medications (any medicine that contains ibuprofen or acetaminophen). The sick person may decide to stop taking fever-reducing medicines as he or she begins to feel better. This person should continue to monitor his or her temperature until it has been normal for 24 hours.

    If flu conditions become more severe, the sick person should stay home or in their residence for 7 days. A person who is still sick after 7 days should stay home until 24 hours after the symptoms have gone away. In addition, this longer period should be used in healthcare settings and may be considered anywhere a high number of people at higher risk for complications from flu may be exposed, such as childcare facilities.

    Sick people should stay at home or in their residence, except to go to the health care provider’s office, and they should avoid contact with others. Keeping people with a fever at home may reduce the number of people who get infected with the flu virus. Because high body temperatures are linked with higher amounts of virus, people with a fever may be more contagious.

    Source: www.flu.gov