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SMU Flu Preparedness

Flu

SMU’s Standards Regarding Seasonal Flu As Recommended by CDC

 

Encourage Vaccination

  • Encourage employees and students to get vaccinated for seasonal influenza.
     
  • Encourage employees and students to get vaccinated for H1N1 influenza when vaccines are available to them. Different groups are prioritized for H1N1 influenza than for seasonal influenza.

Facilitate self-isolation of residential students with flu-like illness

  • Those with flu-like illness should stay away from classes and limit interactions with other people (called “self-isolation”), except to seek medical care, for at least 24 hours after they no longer have a fever, or signs of a fever, without the use of fever-reducing medicines. Some people with influenza will not have fever; therefore, absence of fever does not mean absence of infection. They should stay away from others during this time period even if they are taking antiviral drugs for treatment of the flu.
     
  • Do not require a doctor’s note to confirm illness or recovery. Doctor’s offices may be very busy and may not be able to provide such documentation in a timely way.
     
  • If possible, residential students with flu-like illness who live relatively close to the campus should return to their home to keep from making others sick. These students should be instructed to do so in a way that limits contact with others as much as possible. For example, travel by private car or taxi would be preferable over use of public transportation.
     
  • Students with a private room should remain in their room and receive care and meals from a single person. Students can establish a “flu buddy scheme” in which students pair up to care for each other if one or the other becomes ill. Additionally, staff can make daily contact by e-mail, text messaging, phone calls, or other methods with each student who is in self-isolation.
     
  • If close contact with others cannot be avoided, the ill student should be asked to wear a surgical mask during the period of contact. Examples of close contact include kissing, sharing eating or drinking utensils, or having any other contact between persons likely to result in exposure to respiratory droplets.
     
  • Instruct students with flu-like illness to promptly seek medical attention if they have a medical condition that puts them at increased risk of severe illness from flu, are concerned about their illness, or develop severe symptoms such as increased fever, shortness of breath, chest pain or pressure, or rapid breathing.

Promote self-isolation at home by non-resident students, faculty, and staff

  • Non-residential students, faculty, and staff with flu-like illness should be asked to self-isolate at home or at a friend’s or family member’s home until at least 24 hours after they are free of fever, or signs of a fever, without the use of fever-reducing medicines.
     
  • Do not require a doctor’s note for students, faculty, or staff to validate their illness or to return to work, as doctor’s offices and medical facilities may be extremely busy and may not be able to provide such documentation in a timely way.

Recommended Employer Responses

  • Expect sick employees to be out for about 3 to 5 days in most cases, even if antiviral medications are used.
     
  • Employees who are well but have an ill family member at home with influenza can go to work as usual. However, these employees should monitor their health every day.
     
  • When possible and if they can tolerate it, workers who become ill with symptoms of an influenza-like illness during the workday should be given a surgical mask to wear before they go home if they cannot be placed in an area away from others.
     
  • If an employee becomes ill at work, inform fellow employees of their possible exposure in the workplace to influenza-like illness but maintain confidentiality as required by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

Considerations for high-risk students, faculty and staff

  • People at high risk for flu complications who become ill with flu-like illness should speak with their health care provider as soon as possible. Early treatment with antiviral medications often can prevent hospitalizations and deaths. Groups that are at higher risk of complications from flu if they get sick include: children younger than age 5; people age 65 or older; children and adolescents (younger than age 18) who are receiving long-term aspirin therapy and who might be at risk for experiencing Reye’s syndrome after flu virus infection; pregnant women; adults and children who have asthma, other chronic pulmonary, cardiovascular, hepatic, hematological, neurologic, neuromuscular, or metabolic disorders such as diabetes; and adults and children with immunosuppression (including immunosuppression caused by medications or by HIV). People age 65 and older, however, appear to be at lower risk of 2009 H1N1 infection compared to younger people. But, if older adults do get sick from flu, they are at increased risk of having a severe illness.
     
  • One of the best ways to protect against the flu is to get vaccinated against the flu. People under age 25 are one of the key groups recommended by CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) to be among the first to receive the flu vaccine.

Permit high-risk students, faculty, and staff to stay home when flu is spreading in the community

Extend the self-isolation period: If flu severity increases, people with flu-like illness should stay home for at least 7 days after the onset of their symptoms, even if they have no more symptoms. If people are still sick after 7 days, they should stay home until 24 hours after they have no symptoms. See information above for self-isolation in different types of housing.