You’ve likely heard that this flu season has been a particularly challenging one locally and across the nation. So far, UF Health has seen more than 400 cases, much more than it’s seen by this point in prior flu seasons.
Flu often comes on very suddenly, unlike the common cold, says UF Health Shands Hospital Infectious Disease physician Nicole Iovine. Common symptoms include coughing, sneezing, runny nose, body aches, headache and, in some people, fever, nausea, vomiting or diarrhea.
The flu vaccine can keep you from getting the flu, make the flu less severe if you do get it and keep you from spreading flu to your family and others. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends everyone six months and older get the flu vaccine, which includes protection against multiple strains, every year.
Iovine says if you have gotten the flu this year but haven’t been vaccinated, you should still get your flu shot since you could get a different strain of the flu. Flu shots are available at the Student Health Care Center, at area pharmacies or from your physician’s office. To learn more about vaccine availability at UF, call (352) 392-1161.
In an effort to diminish the spread of illnesses, UF Student Affairs, through Gatorwell Health Promotions, is providing free disposable face masks. Students and employees are encouraged to pick them up at distribution points including Marston Library, the Recreation Centers, Newell Hall, Reitz Union, Turlington Plaza, the Hub, Little Hall area and residence hall area desks. For instructions on how to properly put on and remove a mask, please click here.
Other healthy habits
In addition to getting your flu shot, UF encourages employees to follow the CDC’s recommendations of practicing hand hygiene to prevent the transmission of flu and other infections. This includes washing your hands with soap and water and/or using an alcohol-based hand sanitizer frequently, covering your face when coughing or sneezing by using the inside of your elbow rather than your hands and avoiding the sharing of objects that are frequently touched, such as cell phones.
Also if you do become ill, staying home while you recuperate is the best thing you can do. You should not return to work until you have had no fever for at least 24 hours (without taking a fever-reducer), are able to control any remaining coughing or sneezing and feel well enough to resume normal activities. For most people, this will take between five and 10 days. It is very important that you do not return to work before this not only because of the risk to your health, but also because you may still be infectious to others.