Seasonal Flu and COVID-19
Seasonal flu results in millions of illnesses each year in the United States and has the potential to affect learning and other activities on OHIO’s campuses if there is an outbreak. During the COVID-19 pandemic, flu also could have a particularly strong impact on health care systems that are already overwhelmed.
The best way to prevent the flu is to get a flu vaccine every year. The University recommends that students, faculty, and staff get a flu vaccine annually and has protocols in place to make it easy to do so.
Vaccination has been shown to have many benefits including reducing the risk of flu illnesses, hospitalizations and even the risk of flu-related death in children. While some people who get a flu vaccine may still get sick, flu vaccination has been shown in several studies to reduce severity of illness.
Flu and COVID-19 share many symptoms. It is important to follow the OHIO COVID-19 Protocol if you experience symptoms of either virus.
- About 8 percent of the U.S. population gets sick from flu each season.
- The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate that flu has resulted in 9 million–41 million illnesses, 140,000–710,000 hospitalizations and 12,000–52,000 deaths annually between 2010 and 2020.
- Flu can mean a few days of feeling bad and missing class or work, or it can result in more serious illness.
- Complications of flu can include bacterial pneumonia, ear infections, sinus infections and worsening of chronic medical conditions, such as congestive heart failure, asthma, or diabetes.
The CDC recommends that everyone over 6 months of age should get the flu vaccine. It is especially important for those at higher risk of flu complications, including:
- People with asthma, diabetes, or chronic lung disease
- Pregnant women
- People age 65 or older
You can safely get a flu vaccine and a COVID-19 vaccine at the same time.
How to Get a Flu Shot
OHIOHealth Campus Care
- Students on the Athens campus can walk in or make an appointment for a flu vaccine at OhioHealth Campus Care, located in Hudson Health Center near College Green.
- Vaccines are available Monday–Friday, 8:30 a.m.–4:30 p.m. Call 740-592-7100 to make an appointment.
- Campus Care will be closed on November 25 and will reopen on November 26, though vaccines will not be available that day.
- The cost of the flu vaccine is billed to the student’s health insurance, and students are encouraged to check their plan to be sure OhioHealth is an in-network provider before scheduling an appointment.
Athens City-County Health Department
- Flu vaccines are available in the Athens community at local pharmacies and by appointment at the Athens City-County Health Department.
Local Pharmacies (Regional Campuses)
- Students on regional campuses can get a flu vaccine at local pharmacies or by contacting their local health department.
Faculty and Staff
- Faculty and staff can find information about getting the flu vaccine at local pharmacies, physicians’ offices and health clinics by visiting Wellbeing at OHIO.
- Most local health departments also provide flu vaccine by appointment.
Have Symptoms? Call COVID Ops.
Both flu and COVID-19 can have varying degrees of signs and symptoms, ranging from no symptoms (asymptomatic) to severe symptoms. Because flu and COVID-19 share many symptoms, it is important to follow the OHIO COVID-19 Protocol if you experience any of the following symptoms that both viruses share:
- Fever or feeling feverish/having chills
- Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
- Fatigue (tiredness)
- Sore throat
- Runny or stuffy nose
- Muscle pain or body aches
- Vomiting and diarrhea
- Change in or loss of taste or smell, although this is more frequent with COVID-19.
If you become ill with flu or COVID symptoms, the CDC recommends that you stay home and avoid other people for at least 24 hours after your fever is gone, except to get medical care or for other necessities. (Your fever should be gone without the use of a fever-reducing medicine.) Note that the stay-at-home guidance for COVID-19 may be different.
This means avoiding normal activities, including work, school, travel, shopping, social events and public gatherings.
Whether a test confirms that you have COVID-19 or the flu, COVID Operations’ team of COVID Campus Liaisons can provide support during your recovery. Services include assistance with notifying University offices about excused absences, connection to support services and resources, and regular check-ins.
How to Prevent Spreading the Flu
If you are sick, keep away from others as much as possible and take everyday preventive actions to stop the spread of germs.
- Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when coughing or sneezing.
- Wear a mask in public.
- Wash your hands often with soap and water. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand rub.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth. Germs spread this way.
- Clean and disinfect surfaces and objects that may be contaminated with viruses that cause flu.
Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention