Flu and COVID-19 FAQ's

Frequently Asked Questions about the Flu Vaccine

Does the University Health Center recommend getting the Flu Shot?

Yes. The University Health Center encourages students, faculty and staff to get the flu shot every year. Students and others with underlying medical conditions are also strongly advised  to get the flu vaccine.

 

When should people get the Flu Shot?

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the best time to  get the flu shot is in September and October.  However as long as the flu is circulating, it’s beneficial to receive the flu shot  through January or later. 

 

Where can I get a flu shot?

The University Health Center has the flu vaccine available.  There are also many locations in and around College Park where you can find the flu vaccine. The CDC has a flu vaccine finder on their website to help you find the most convenient location for you.

 

 

In addition to getting the flu shot, how else can a person prevent the Flu?

The University Health Center encourages getting the flu vaccine in addition to maintaining good hygiene practices. These include frequent handwashing with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or using hand sanitizer, covering your mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing by using your elbow or tissue and properly disposing of used tissues, frequently cleaning high touch surfaces, getting 7-9 hours of sleep regularly, eating nutritious meals, staying hydrated, managing stress, avoiding close contact with others, and staying home when sick. Encouraging friends and family to also get the flu shot and follow these recommendations will help prevent the spread of the flu.

What are the symptoms of the flu?

It is important to recognize the signs and symptoms of the flu which include fatigue, sudden fever (usually above 100°F [38°C]), scratchy or sore throat, cough, chills, head, muscle or body aches, and runny or stuffy nose. It's also important to continue to practice the prevention behaviors as noted above to prevent contracting the flu, including staying home to rest. If you begin to experience symptoms you may call the University Health Center or your primary care provider to schedule an appointment.

What should a person do if they get the Flu?

For most individuals, the flu can be treated at home with rest, monitoring temperature and taking fever reducers (such as Tylenol or Advil), preventing dehydration by drinking water, taking in clear liquids, treating your cough and sore throat using lozenges, honey, and decaffeinated tea or over the counter cold medications. However, it is important that those who are immune-suppressed seek medical care within the first 24-48 hours of symptom onset.  If the flu is diagnosed within 48 hours of the symptom onset, in some cases antiviral medications can be prescribed which may help shorten the duration of symptoms and lessen the chances of developing complications of the flu. Antibiotics will not treat the flu, since the flu is caused by the influenza virus. 

 

How can people make the distinction to whether they have the Flu or COVID-19 since they share similar symptoms?

According to the CDC, the differences are: "Flu viruses can cause mild to severe illness, including common signs and symptoms listed earlier, symptoms can occur 1-4 days after exposure”.

COVID-19 signs and symptoms that are different from the flu, may include a change in or loss of taste or smell, symptoms can "develop 5 days after being infected, but symptoms can appear as early as 2 days after infection or as late as 14 days after infection, and the time range can vary".  For both COVID-19 and flu, it’s possible to spread the virus prior to experiencing any symptoms.

Source: https://www.cdc.gov/flu/symptoms/flu-vs-covid19.htm

An evaluation by a medical professional, including flu or COVID testing, is important to distinguish the two illnesses, as described in response to questions answered below..

Since a fever is a symptom of both the flu and COVID, will students who self-report a high fever, or other shared symptoms, have to move into isolation housing?

Keep in mind that we are still learning more and more about COVID-19 regularly, and that this will be the first time we will be dealing with both COVID-19 and Influenza together.  A decision about isolation housing will depend on each individual's medical evaluation. This may factor in whether the person was exposed to a known case of COVID-19 and the results of a rapid influenza test.

Will a COVID test or flu test be available to make the distinction for people who report symptoms?

The University Health Center can perform both a rapid influenza test and a rapid COVID antigen test, with results typically available in around 30-60 minutes.

If a student is sent to isolation housing because of symptoms but it turns out they only have the flu, will they be required to stay in isolation housing for the remainder of the 14-days because they might have been exposed to someone with COVID while in

If a student has flu-like or COVID-like symptoms, a flu test can be performed in the office to determine if influenza is the cause.  The student will be advised to isolate only if a provider feels that they have a presumed case of COVID-19.

Are students who live on campus required to go to the Health Center if they develop symptoms of the flu or COVID-19 to determine how best to proceed, or will students who seek medical attention off-campus by asking to provide specific forms of documentati

Students are already required to complete the Daily Symptom Monitoring Survey whenever they are on campus.  If they respond yes to any of the symptoms, they are asked to call the HEAL line.  We will determine what the next steps are based on the information they provide.  This practice should continue as we enter flu season.