Flu Information for Students

The University has initiated a comprehensive plan to prevent and to treat influenza and novel H1N1 “swine flu” virus. Below is information on how to protect yourself from these viruses and what to do if you do develop flu or flu-like symptoms.

Vaccination

An attempt will be made to vaccinate all students for seasonal influenza. These vaccinations will occur at the Student Health Center or at “Flu Shot Clinics” organized and conducted at select campus locations. This is contingent upon the availability of seasonal influenza vaccine. At this time, the University will vaccinate students for a nominal charge. H1N1 vaccine is not yet available, but will also be made available to students as supplies are secured.

Faculty and staff members are strongly encouraged to see their personal health care provider for seasonal flu vaccination and H1N1 vaccination, when the vaccine becomes available.

The seasonal influenza vaccine and the H1N1 vaccine are strongly recommended for those individuals considered to be at “high risk.”

Those individuals deemed at “ high risk” of serious medical complications and illness as a result of contracting influenza include the following:

  • Pregnant women and household contacts
  • Caregivers of infants younger that 6 months
  • Healthcare and emergency services personnel
  • Age 6 – 65 year olds who are at greater risk for influenza-related complications due to preexisting medical conditions, such as chronic pulmonary conditions, including asthma; cardiovascular conditions except hypertension, renal disease, hepatic disease, cognitive and neurologic/neuromuscular diseases, hematologic or metabolic disorders, including diabetes mellitus, immunosuppression caused by medications or by human immunodeficiency virus

Individuals affected by any of the conditions listed above should be vaccinated for seasonal influenza and H1N1.

You can reduce your risk of contracting the flu

  • Always cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you sneeze or cough, and dispose of the tissue in the trash immediately. If you have no tissue, cover your cough or sneeze with your arm rather than your hand.
  • Wash your hands thoroughly and often with soap and water, especially after you cough or sneeze. Alcohol-based hand cleaners are also effective and can be carried with you for use when soap and water are not available.
  • To help prevent spreading germs, avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth.

If You Become Ill With Flu-like Symptoms

  • Contact the Student Health Center at 202-806-7540, call the Student Healthy Center before you attempt to go there to be seen. They will provide you with important information. You may also contact your personal physician or an appropriate medical facility in your community. Follow your doctor’s or nurse’s instructions.
  • After you are seen or have spoken to a medical professional, stay in your room or apartment. Leave home only if you need to seek additional medical attention. Follow the treatment and hygiene instruction of the Student Health Center.
  • Do not go to class or to work, especially if you have a fever. Do not go to the lab, library or other public places where you might expose others. Contact your resident assistant, graduate assistant or community director if you require assistance receiving meals during your illness.
  • For ill students staying in their residence hall rooms, the University will make arrangements to provide food to them in their rooms. Residence hall staff will be checking on students regularly and will assist with transportation via Campus Police to the Student Health Center for those who need to be seen by a physician.
  • If you are ill, immediately contact your professors by phone or e-mail and make arrangements with them to make up missed work. Faculty members are very willing to work with you once they know you are ill.
  • Do not resume your normal activities until you have been symptom-free, without benefit of medication, for at least 24 hours.
  • Following CDC guidelines Student Health Center clinicians will not be prescribing the antiviral medication Tamiflu unless there is an underlying health condition (severe asthma, diabetes, HIV disease, immune deficiency) or the individual is considered high risk (pregnant or otherwise considered to be at “high-risk”)

There is a small possibility that the influenza virus could mutate this fall and become more dangerous and even more lethal, or that there could be a widespread outbreak of influenza on campus or within the metropolitan Washington area. If that happens, we may need to act more aggressively to prevent infection of students by suspending classes and closing residence and dining halls.

In that eventuality, students will be asked to return home. If they cannot, we will ask that they go to the homes of relatives, friends or classmates for the duration of the emergency. A widespread outbreak of influenza may severely restrict individual’s ability to travel, especially via trains, planes, and busses, so plan accordingly. It is important -- if you have not done so already -- that you make a plan now for leaving campus in the unlikely event that classes are suspended for an extended period of time; take whatever steps are necessary to make that plan ready to be executed on short notice.

Student Health Center

How should students who think they are ill access the Student Health Center with flu-like symptoms?

  • Students who think they have the flu should call the HU Student Health Center prior to arriving at the Student Health Center for treatment unless they meet the criteria for patients at high risk for influenza complications.
  • Students will be phone triaged according to the HU Student Health Center phone triage protocol and should follow the instructions given to them by the health center staff.
  • The Student Health Center will keep in contact with all students that have called or reported to the health center for care by phone or other means.
  • “High-risk” students will be advised to report as soon as possible for medical care at the Student Health Center or at Howard University Hospital- Emergency Room when the Student Health Center is closed.
  • Roommates/suitemates who are at “high-risk” for influenza complications will be considered for flu prophylaxis (immunizations and other medical treatment).
  • Signs will be posted at the entrance to the Student Health Center requesting that all students with flu-like illness put on a mask.
  • Masks will be kept at the security desk in the lobby of the building that houses the Student Health Center.
  • Signs at the elevator entrance and at the Student Health Center entrance will direct students with flu-like symptoms to a separate entrance to the Student Health Center.
  • Students will be placed in an exam room, preferably one containing a HEPA filter, immediately for assessment, examination and possible treatment.
  • Students with flu-like illness Will NOT be allowed to sit in the main waiting room.  

What will the process be for students arriving at the Student Health Center?

  • A rapid influenza assessment will be done on students who present with fever, cough and/or meet the CDC criteria for the suspected respiratory syndrome.
  • Suspect or confirmed patients will be separated from the regular patients.
  • Patients will be given a mask and moved directly into a HEPA filter room or quarantine area
  • Student Health Center workers coming into contact with patients must wear N95 HEPA filter masks.
  • Strict adherence to standard, contact and airborne precautions must be observed.
  • Strict adherence to hand washing must be observed.
  • Howard University Hospital infection control will be provided with a weekly tally of influenza A infections diagnosed by the Student Health Center.
  • The Student Health Center will provide the appropriate alerts to the District of Columbia Department of Health, the Office of the Senior Vice President for Health Sciences, Office of the Provost and Chief Academic Officer and Office of the President.

What about students requiring hospital admission?

  • In general, students will be admitted to Howard University Hospital via an expedited admission procedure
  • Students will be admitted to and transported directly to a negative pressure HEPA filter Room
  • Standard, contact, and airborne precautions will be maintained
  • All health care personnel entering the room will wear gloves and N95 mask.
  • Infection Control will be notified of the admission.