One of the most common illnesses on college campuses is the seasonal influenza (flu) virus. Although preventable, the flu Influenza (flu) is a contagious respiratory illness that can cause mild to severe illness, and at times can lead to death.
The traditional flu season is October to March, with peaks in the cold winter months. However, the flu is unpredictable and varies each year and can peak quickly.
Annual Flu Vaccine
The first and most important step to prevent getting the flu is to get a flu vaccination each year. Pat Walker Health Center’s Allergy & Immunization Clinic offers the flu vaccine injection on-site for the University of Arkansas community. You can make an appointment on the Patient Portal or by calling 479-575-4451.
The cost for the flu vaccine is $20 for students, and $50 for faculty and staff; however, most insurances cover the cost. The flu vaccine can also be billed to a person’s UAConnect account.
What to Bring for Appointment:
- UA ID Card/Number
- Health Insurance Card / Policy Information
Getting a flu shot is more important than ever. Although we don’t know how prevalent the flu will be this year, getting a flu shot, protects yourself and your fellow Razorbacks.
The flu vaccine is also available off-campus at local pharmacies, clinics and the Washington County Health Unit.
Pat Walker Health Center offers the quadrivalent influenza (flu) vaccine injection, which is designed to protect against four different flu viruses, including two influenza A viruses and two influenza B viruses. The health center does not offer the flu vaccine in nasal mist form.
For more information, see CDC’s website for Who Should and Who Should NOT get a Flu Vaccine.
The Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) recommends a yearly flu vaccine for everyone six months and older.
It especially important that certain people get vaccinated either because they are at high risk of having serious flu-related complications or because they live with or care for people at high risk for developing flu-related complications.
The vaccine is strongly recommended for those who are elderly, pregnant, or have a chronic illness.
Getting the flu vaccine is the single best way to prevent the flu. Not only will the vaccine help protect you, but it will also help protect those around you who can have severe complications if they catch the flu from you.
While getting vaccinated doesn't guarantee you won't get the flu, the vaccine can make your illness milder if you become infected with a strain of virus not covered by the vaccine.
Flu vaccination can reduce flu illnesses, doctors’ visits, and missed work and school due to flu, as well as prevent flu-related hospitalizations.
Flu vaccines cause antibodies to develop in the body about two weeks after vaccination. These antibodies provide protection against infection with the viruses used to make the vaccine.
However, the protection provided by a flu vaccine varies from season to season.
The seasonal flu vaccine protects against the influenza viruses that research indicates will be most common during the upcoming season. If you do contract the flu, the vaccine can also make your symptoms less severe.
A flu vaccine is needed every year for two reasons.
- Over time, your immune protection declines, so an annual vaccine is needed for the best protection.
- Every flu season is different. The flu virus is constantly changing, so flu vaccines need to be updated to protect against the viruses researchers suggest may be most common during the upcoming flu season.
For the best protection, everyone six months and older should get vaccinated annually.
No. You can't get the flu from the flu vaccine, but you may experience some mild muscle aches and even a low grade fever, which is not uncommon for a day or two following the flu shot.
Influenza (flu) Information
Flu is a contagious respiratory illness caused by influenza viruses that infect the nose, throat, and sometimes the lungs. It can cause mild to severe illness, and at times can lead to death. The best way to prevent flu is by getting a flu vaccine each year.
Some people, such as older people, young children, and people with certain health conditions, are at high risk for serious flu complications.
The flu can cause mild to severe illness, and at times can lead to death. Flu is different from a cold, and usually comes on suddenly.
People who have flu often feel some or all of these symptoms:
- fever or feeling feverish/chills
- sore throat
- runny or stuffy nose
- muscle or body aches
- fatigue (tiredness)
- some people may have vomiting and diarrhea, though this is more common in children than adults.
Most people who get flu will recover in a few days to less than two weeks, but some people might develop complications (such as pneumonia) as a result of flu, some of which can be life-threatening and result in death.
Flu also can make chronic medical problems worse. For example, people with asthma may experience asthma attacks while they have flu, and people with chronic heart disease may experience a worsening of this condition triggered by flu.
Complications of flu can include:
- bacterial pneumonia
- ear infections
- sinus infections
- worsening of chronic medical conditions, such as congestive heart failure, asthma, or diabetes.
Flu viruses spread mainly from person to person through coughing or sneezing of people with influenza. Sometimes people may become infected by touching something with flu viruses on it and then touching their mouth or nose.
Most healthy adults may be able to infect others beginning 1 day before symptoms develop and up to 5 days after becoming sick. That means that you may be able to pass on the flu to someone else before you know you are sick, as well as while you are sick.
If You Have Flu Symptoms:
- Stay home or in your room and limit contact with others, except to get medical care if needed.
- Get lots of rest.
- Drink plenty of non-caffeinated fluids (such as water, juice, tea, sports drinks) to prevent dehydration.
- Avoid alcohol.
- Eat well balanced, nutritious foods.
- Ask a friend to bring you food to limit your contact with others.
- If you live in a residence hall, ask your RA how you can have meals delivered to your room.
- Monitor your temperature. Stay home for at least 24 hours after your fever is gone without having to use fever-reducing medications.
- Ease your symptoms with over-the-counter medications and the home remedies
Antiviral drugs may also be a treatment option. When used for treatment, antiviral drugs can lessen symptoms and shorten the time you are sick by 1 or 2 days. They also can prevent serious flu complications, like pneumonia.
If you have a fever or flu-like symptoms, contact Pat Walker Health Center to speak with a medical provider at 479-575-4451.
Take time to get a flu vaccine each year. It is the best way to protect against the flu.
- You should get a flu vaccine before flu viruses begin spreading, since it takes about two weeks after vaccination for antibodies to develop in the body and provide protection against flu.
- The vaccine can make your illness milder if you become infected with a strain of virus not covered by the vaccine.
Take everyday preventive actions:
- Wash your hands often. Carry alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
- Cough or sneeze into your elbow or sleeve. When you use a tissue, throw it in the trash immediately.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
- Don't share food, drink, utensils, or vaping devices.
- Disinfect frequently touched surfaces regularly.
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick, especially if they have fever, cough, and a sore throat.
- Get plenty of sleep, exercise regularly, manage stress, drink plenty of fluids, and eat nutritious foods.
Take flu antiviral drugs if your doctor recommends them. (They are not a substitute for vaccination.)
- Antiviral drugs are prescription medicines that fight flu viruses from reproducing in your body.
- Antiviral drugs can make your illness milder and make you feel better faster. They may also prevent serious flu complications. This could be especially important for people at high risk.