Here in Alachua County and across the state and nation, we are managing an especially aggressive influenza season. At the University of Florida, we are committed to protecting our students, faculty and staff to prevent the spread of the flu. We encourage the UF community to follow the CDC recommendations to prevent and treat flu:
- Get your flu shot — it is not too late to do so. Vaccination is the primary way to protect yourself from flu. Flu shots decrease your chance of getting the flu and decrease the severity of illness and duration of symptoms in those who still develop flu symptoms. The flu shot contains only killed virus, so you cannot get sick from the vaccination. Flu shots are available at the Student Health Care Center, at area pharmacies or from your physician’s office.
- Take care to prevent the transmission of flu and other infections by washing your hands with soap and water or using an alcohol-based hand sanitizer frequently. Cover your face when coughing or sneezing by using the inside of your elbow rather than your hands to decrease the chance of passing the virus to someone else. Avoid sharing objects that are frequently touched, such as cell phones.
- 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.
- Most people who get the flu can safely recuperate at home without seeking medical intervention. However, certain groups are at increased risk for developing complications from flu — including those who have asthma, are 65 or older, are pregnant or are diabetic (see full list of high-risk groups). If you are in one of these groups and develop flu-like symptoms, such as fever or chills, cough, runny nose, headache, body aches, nausea, vomiting or diarrhea (see full list of symptoms), contact your health care provider early. You will be asked to wear a mask while awaiting care. If your provider determines that you have flu, you may be prescribed oseltamivir (Tamiflu) to shorten the duration of your illness. You should follow instructions to take the full course of medication that your provider prescribes.
- If you do become ill, staying home while you recuperate is the best thing you can do. Coming to work or school while sick jeopardizes your health as well as the health of those around you. You should not return to work or school 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 5 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.
Additional information about the flu can be found at the CDC website.
At UF, we take the health and well-being of everyone seriously. Help us to keep you and our community safe by getting vaccinated, minimizing the spread of germs, calling your provider if you are at high risk for flu complications, and staying home if you are sick. We are dedicated to helping students, faculty and staff prevent, avoid, or recover from influenza and we thank everyone involved in keeping the campus healthy!
David S. Guzick, MD, PhD
UF Senior Vice President, Health Affairs
President, UF Health