Flu Facts

Make Your Intention...Flu Prevention!

Vaccination is the best way to protect yourself from the flu. The Centers for Disease Control and prevention (CDC) recommends most people 6 months of age and older get vaccinated against the flu.


Current CDC Flu Recommendations

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Student Health Services Sick Note Guidelines


The Flu Vaccination Clinic at Student Health Services

Flu shots are available for current SF State students.

Fall and Spring Vaccination Clinic Hours:

  • Tuesday, 8:30-11:30 am and 2:00-4:00 pm
  • Wednesday, 10:00-11:30 am


Flu Facts


What is the Flu (Influenza)?

  • The flu is a contagious respiratory illness caused by flu viruses.
  • Approximately 5-20% of people in the United States will get the flu each year.
  • Flu season occurs in the fall and winter months.

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Differences Between the Flu and a Cold

A cold and flu are both viral infections that can cause symptoms such as coughing and sore throat. While the cold is a minor viral infection of the nose and throat, the flu is usually more severe with higher fevers and the addition of aches and pains.


Is it the Flu? Common Cold vs Influenza
Symptom Common Cold Influenza
Fever Rare Usually; High = 100F-102F
Headache Rare Common
Body Aches and Pains Slight Usually; often severe
Fatigue and Weakness Sometimes Usually; up to 2-3 weeks
Runny, Stuffy Nose Common Sometimes
Sneezing Usually Sometimes
Sore Throat Common Sometimes
Coughing, Chest Discomfort Mild-Moderate Common; can be severe
Treatment Antihistamines, decongestant, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications Antiviral medications *Contact a doctor
Complications Sinus congestion, asthma, ear infection

Bronchitis, pneumonia *Can be life-threatening

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How Does the Flu Spread?

You can get the flu

  • when a person with the flu coughs or sneezes and the germs land in your mouth or nose; or
  • by touching a surface or object that has the flu virus on it and then touching your mouth, eyes, or nose.

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What Should I Do if I Get the Flu?

If you think you have the flu

  • stay home and avoid contact with others;
  • practice good hygiene;
  • treat fever and aches with Acetaminophen;
  • rest; and
  • drinking plenty of fluids.

If you think you need medical treatment, call Student Health Services at (415) 338-1251.



A doctor may prescribe antiviral medications, which must be taken within 1-2 days of the time the first symptoms appear, to reduce the duration of fever and other related symptoms. Antibiotics are not indicated unless there is a secondary bacterial infection.

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Cold and Flu Self-Care Tips

  • Stay home and rest, especially while you have a fever.
  • Drink plenty of fluids like water, fruit juice and clear soups. Fluids help to loosen mucus and are also important if you have a fever because fever can dry out your body's fluids, which can lead to dehydration.
  • Do not drink alcohol.
  • Stop smoking and avoid second-hand smoke, which can make symptoms worse.
  • Throat sprays and lozenges may help relieve a sore throat while gargling with warm salt water a few times per day can also be relieving.
  • Take Acetaminophen as directed for fever and aches.

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Common Complications

  • Bacterial pneumonia;
  • Ear or sinus infections;
  • Dehydration; and/or
  • Worsening of chronic health conditions.

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How Do I Know I am at Higher Risk for Complications from the Flu?

People with the following conditions are at a greater risk for complications from the flu:

  • Chronic lung disease such as asthma, emphysema, chronic bronchitis, bronchiectasis, or cystic fibrosis.
  • Heart disease.
  • Chronic kidney disease.
  • Diabetes or another chronic metabolic disorder.
  • Any condition that can compromise the respiratory system.
  • Severe anemia.
  • HIV
  • On medicies eg. chronic steroid or cancer chemotherapy that depress immunity.
  • Pregnant
  • Persons 18 years or younger receiving chronic aspirin therapy.

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How Can I Protect Myself from the Flu?

  • Wash your hands often. Keep them away from your nose, eyes and mouth.
  • Try to avoid contact with people who have a cold or the flu.
  • Eat well and get regular exercise.
  • Get adequate rest.
  • Get a flu vaccination (shot) each fall! This is the #1 way to protect yourself.

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Who Should and Who Should Not Get Vaccinated?

Some groups are more vulnerable, or more likely, to get and experience complications from the flu. Vulnerable groups include:

  • People with chronic health conditions;
  • Seniors (age 65 and older); and
  • Children (particularly those under age 2).


College students are at a unique risk of getting the flu due to lifestyle factors and high-density living conditions such as living in the dorms.


The following groups should not get vaccinated without first talking to a physician:

  • People with a severe allergy to eggs;
  • People who have had a severe reaction to the vaccine in the past;
  • Children younger than 6 months of age; and
  • People with a moderate to severe illness with fever should wait to get vaccinated until their symptoms lessen.

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When Do I Need to Visit the Doctor?

If you have the flu and have any of the following symptoms you should seek medical evaluation as soon as possible:

  • A fever greater than 101 F or increasing over 2-3 days;
  • If you are pregnant, immune compromised, or have a chronic medical condition;
  • A fever that does not resolve with medication such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen;
  • Severe headache or stiff neck pain;
  • Pain or pressure in your chest or abdomen;
  • Dizziness or confusion;
  • Vomiting;
  • Rash;
  • Difficulty swallowing fluids; and/or
  • Flu-like symptoms that were improving but are now getting worse.

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