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Influenza (Flu) Fact Sheet
Flu or Influenza
What is the flu?
The "flu" or influenza is a serious disease. At times it can lead to death. It is very contagious and spreads in the U.S. each year, starting in the fall and continuing through spring.
The flu is caused by a virus and spread mainly by coughing, sneezing or close contact. Young children and older adults are at highest risk of getting the flu but anyone can get it.
What are the symptoms?
Unlike a cold, flu symptoms start suddenly. They appear about 1-4 days after a person is exposed to the flu. Symptoms may include:
- Fever or feeling feverish/chills.
- Sore throat
- Runny or stuffy nose
- Muscle or body aches
- Some people may have vomiting or diarrhea; this is more common in children.
How long is a person with the flu contagious?
You can pass the flu to others from 1 day before you have symptoms up to 5-7 days after you get sick. Some people might be able to infect others even longer.
Is there treatment?
The flu can be treated with antiviral drugs if started soon after you get sick. They will help reduce how sick you get and how long you are ill. Over the counter drugs like acetaminophen or ibuprofen may be taken to increase comfort. People with the flu need rest and fluids.
If my child or another family member has been exposed, what should I do?
Call your doctor or clinic for advice. Some people with a sick family member may be given an antiviral medicine to help prevent the flu.
Who's at higher risk for the flu?
Young children, older adults and people with weaker immune symptoms sometimes become sicker from the flu. This is also true if you have a condition such as heart and lung disease, asthma or diabetes. Having the flu while you're pregnant increases the risk of premature labor and delivery.
What are the complications of the flu?
Some complications include pneumonia, ear infections and dehydration. The flu can be serious and may require care in a hospital. Some people who get the flu could die.
What is the best way to prevent flu?
The single best way to prevent the flu is to get the flu vaccine. Everyone 6 months of age and older should get the flu vaccine every year. Flu vaccines cannot cause the flu.
- The flu shot is given with a needle, usually in the arm. It can be given to people 6 months of age and older.
- The nasal-spray flu vaccine is given in your nose. You can get the spray if you are healthy, 2 to 49 years of age and not pregnant.
Why do I need to get the flu vaccine every year?
New flu vaccines are produced every year to keep up with flu viruses that change rapidly over time. Antibodies to flu vaccine decline over time too – another reason to get a flu vaccine annually.
When should I get the flu vaccine?
Every year, as soon as it is available. It takes about two weeks to be fully effective, so it is important to get it before flu season begins, if possible. But, you can still get vaccinated through the spring and beyond. Even though flu season usually peaks in February, it can continue at least through May. Flu vaccine is offered at health care providers' offices, clinics and pharmacies.
What should I or my family members do if we travel out of the country?
Your risk for being exposed to the flu depends on what time of year you travel and where you go. In the Northern Hemisphere, flu season can beginas early as October and last until May. In the Southern Hemisphere flu season occurs from April through September. In tropical climates, flu can occur all year. Traveling with groups of international travelers, such as on a cruise ship, can increase your risk of exposure.
Travel and the Flu:
How can I learn about flu outbreaks?
The New York State Department of Health and the CDC track influenza throughout the flu season. For up-to-date information:
Learn more about the flu:
For more information about vaccine-preventable diseases:
School nurses may administer medications to students during the school day with a written prescription from a physician, written permission from the parent/guardian, and the medication in the original or pharmacy-labeled container.
Public Health Law - Section 2164: All students enrolling in any school in New York State for the first time shall submit a written statement signed by a health care provider that they have been immunized as per NYS Standards.
Exemptions from this requirement include: Serologic proof of immunity to Polio, Measles, Mumps, Rubella, Hepatitis B or Varicella; or Medical/Religious exemptions approved by the district.
State law requires physical examinations for all new students and students entering second (2), fourth (4), seventh (7) and tenth (10) grades. New York State Law requires that a physical exam
“…(is) acceptable if administered not more than twelve months prior to the beginning of the school year in which the exam is required.” The exam must be performed by a licensed health care provider who is authorized to practice within the United States so long as the jurisdiction has
“…standards and practice comparable to those of New York.” The required exam must be submitted within thirty days of entering school.
Student athletes must have a yearly physical examination by either the school physician or their licensed, private health care provider. This exam is valid for one year. Parents/guardians of student athletes must also complete a health history and sports clearance card before each sport season.
For the health and safety of other students, children who are ill should be kept home. The school nurse should be informed if a child contracts a contagious disease. Students diagnosed with strep throat may not return to school until 24 hours after the first dose of antibiotic therapy. Students with a fever (T+100º F) may return to school when he/she is fever free for 24 hours.
Parents of new students need to complete an “Emergency Contact Information Form” and, at some schools, also an Emergency Card which is returned to the Health Office. The information listed is used in the event of an emergency at school and the parents/guardians are unable to be reached. During the school year, if there are changes in the emergency contacts, this information can be updated by contacting your school nurse.
The school will make every effort to prevent accidental injuries and to provide first aid as necessary. In case of an accident, parents will be called immediately. If parents cannot be reached, the emergency contact will be called.
Hand Sanitizer Use:
If you wish to learn more about the product provided, you may visit www.safehands4u.com
or call your school’s health office.