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Flu Vaccine Information

Influenza (the flu) is a contagious respiratory illness caused by influenza viruses. It spreads from person-to-person and can cause mild to severe illness; and in some cases, can lead to death.

In the United States, yearly outbreaks of seasonal flu usually happen during the fall through early spring. The best way to prevent the flu is by getting a flu vaccination each year.

Flu viruses can cause illness in people of any age group. Children are most likely to get sick because their immune systems aren’t strong enough to fight off the infection.

Some groups are more likely to have complications from the seasonal flu. These include: 

  • Those age 65 and older
  • Children younger than 2 years old
  • People of any age who have chronic medical conditions (e.g. diabetes, asthma, Crohn’s disease)

Complications from the flu can include: 

  • Bacterial pneumonia
  • Ear or sinus infections
  • Dehydration
  • Worsening of chronic medical conditions

Influenza and the common cold are both respiratory illnesses but they are caused by different viruses. Because these two types of illnesses have similar flu-like symptoms, it can be difficult to tell the difference between them based on symptoms alone. In general, the flu is worse than the common cold, and symptoms such as fever, body aches, extreme tiredness, and dry cough are more common and intense. Colds are usually milder than the flu. People with colds are more likely to have a runny or stuffy nose. Colds generally do not result in serious health problems, such as pneumonia, bacterial infections, or hospitalizations. The chart below may help. 






 Usual; high (100-102 degrees; occasionally higher); lasts 3-4 days




 General Aches, Pains


Usual; often severe 

 Fatigue, Weakness


Usual; can last 2-3 weeks 

 Extreme Exhaustion


 Usual; at the beginning of illness

 Stuffy Nose






 Sore Throat



 Chest Discomfort, Cough

 Mild to moderate; hacking cough

 Common; can become severe


 Antihistamines, Decongestant, Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medicines

Antiviral medicines - see your healthcare provider 


 Wash hands often, Avoid close contact with anyone infected

 Annual vaccination


Sinus congestion, Middle ear infection, Asthma 

 Bronchitis, Pneumonia

 * Adapted from the National Institutes of Allergy and Infectious Diseases

There are several knowledgeable government agencies that have recommendations for flu prevention.  Gordon College is committed to following the recommendations of the Center for Disease Control (www.cdc.gov) and the Massachusetts Department of Public Health (www.mass.gov/flu). 


Practice good hand hygiene! 


WASH YOUR HANDS OFTEN with soap and water (about 20 seconds), especially after coughing or sneezing. Alcohol-based hand cleaners are also effective. 

Cough or sneeze into your elbow, sleeve or shoulder; not into your hands! 

Or cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze; then throw the tissue away and SANITIZE YOUR HANDS!! 


Don’t touch! 

Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth. Germs spread this way. Do not share things like water bottles, cups, lipstick, ChapStick™, cigarettes, or straws as these are ways the virus is spread.

Clean your
quarters often! 

If you live together with other students or work in an office, you should frequently clean commonly-used surfaces such as doorknobs, refrigerator handles, remote controls, computer keyboards, countertops, faucet handles, and bathroom areas.  

Talk to your health care provider about getting vaccinated. 

To find out if you should be vaccinated for seasonal flu. Information about seasonal flu vaccine can be found on the CDC or Massachusetts Department of Public Health websites. 

Avoid close contact and stay home if you are sick. 

It is recommended that you stay at home or in your room for 24 hours after your symptoms (including fever) have gone away. Staying away from others while sick can prevent others from getting sick.

Over-the-counter medication like Extra Strength Tylenol (2 every 6 hours) or Ibuprofen (200 mg tablets, can take 2 every 4 hours safely), cough suppressants/throat lozenges, tissues, hand sanitizer.

Fever/Body Aches
Taking acetaminophen and/or ibuprofen to control fever and body aches will make the illness more bearable as your body fights the virus.

Be careful not to exceed the daily recommended dosage for Tylenol and Ibuprofen. These drugs are often mixed in with other cough, cold and flu remedies you may also be taking. The maximum amount of Tylenol for adults is 1 gram (1000 mg) per dose and 4 grams (4000 mg) per day. For Ibuprofen the daily dose should not exceed 2.4 grams (2,400 mg).

Adequate fluid intake is one of the most important aspects of fighting influenza. Choose water, juice and warm soups to prevent dehydration

Bed rest is critical if you're diagnosed with the flu. Not only will you avoid transmitting this highly contagious illness to others, you'll help your immune system better fight off the infection.

Sore throat 
Drinking lots of fluids, gargling with salt water (made by combining a cup of warm water and a teaspoon of salt), sucking on throat lozenges and hard candy can often be helpful for easing the pain of a sore throat.

Oral decongestants come in many forms -- pills, tablets, capsules, or syrups. Decongestants are used to open the mucous membranes in the nose and help them to drain. If you need immediate relief for swollen, congested nasal passages, you may get relief with an over-the-counter decongestant nasal spray such as Afrin.  It is important to stop using decongestant nasal sprays after three to five days to avoid the development of rebound congestion or recurrent congestion. 

What If I Don't Want to Take Medication?
Rubbing your chest with an aromatic preparation like Vicks can make you feel better and less congested.

Different herbal teas have different soothing properties. Try mint or chamomile tea if your cold comes with an upset stomach.

Take a steamy shower. It can help clear congestion. 

If a chesty cough or tight chest is a problem at night, avoid sleeping completely flat. Sleeping propped up on two or three pillows may do a great deal to help make breathing easier.

Most fever is beneficial, causes no problems, and helps the body fight off infections. The main reason for treating a fever is to increase comfort. Wear light clothing and keep the room cool. Try taking a lukewarm bath or sponging off with a cool cloth. Contact the Health Center if your fever rises to 104 degrees or stays at or above 101 degrees for more than three days.

Emergency Warning Signs
If you become ill and experience the following symptoms, notify the Health Center immediately or seek emergency medical care by calling Gordon Police at 978.867.3333.

  • Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
  • Pain or pressure in the chest or abdomen
  • Severe or persistent vomiting (Flu-like symptoms improve but then return with fever and worse cough)
  • Sudden dizziness or confusion

Students with influenza-like illness may call the Health Center to report illness instead of walking into the Health Center without notice, in order to minimize waiting time for the student as well as to limit exposure to other students in the waiting room.

Email or call your professors to tell them you are experiencing an influenza-like illness and will need to avoid contact with others until you are fever free for 24 hours.