Dear Rutgers Community:
This week has been designated National Influenza Vaccination Week by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to highlight the importance of continuing flu vaccination through the holiday season and beyond. As the Rutgers community begins to prepare for the holidays and winter break with family and friends, it’s important to remember that we are also entering flu season.
During the 2017-18 flu season, the CDC estimates flu caused:
- 49 million flu illnesses—more than the combined populations of Texas and Florida
- 960,000 flu hospitalizations—more than the number of staffed hospital beds in the United States
- 79,000 deaths—more than the average number of people who attend the Super Bowl each year
Get Your Flu Shot
Flu vaccinations are the most effective way to prevent flu, lessen its symptoms, and cut down its spread. It takes about two weeks for the immunity to kick in, so it is best to receive a vaccination sooner rather than later. The CDC also reinforces that flu vaccine cannot cause flu illness. As an epidemiologist, teacher, clinician, and former Professor of Public Health and Preventive Medicine, I strongly encourage you to get the flu vaccine. To ensure that flu vaccine is easily accessible, Rutgers is making it available to employees, faculty, and staff on most campuses.
RBHS Newark and Scotch Plains Employees (NJMS, SDM, SN, SHRP, etc.):
Employees may walk-in to the Occupational Medicine Service in the Stanley S. Bergen, Jr. Building (“SSB”), Suite GA-167, Monday through Friday, between 7:30 a.m. and 4 p.m. No appointment is necessary. Employees may call 973-972-2900 for more information.
RBHS New Brunswick and Piscataway Employees (RWJMS, CINJ, SN, SPH, etc.):
Employees may walk-in to the Employee Health Clinic in Piscataway at the Environmental and Occupational Health Sciences Institute (“EOSHI”) on Busch Campus, Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Fridays, between 11 a.m. and 4 p.m. Employees may call 848-445-0123 option #2 should you have any questions.
Rutgers Faculty and Staff:
Faculty and staff should call the Occupational Health Department at 848-932-8254 for an appointment on the Newark, New Brunswick/Piscataway, or Camden Campuses.
You can also visit www.cdc.gov/flu and enter your zip code in the “Flu Vaccine Finder” to find a location where flu shots are given near you.
Signs and Symptoms of Colds and Flu
People who receive flu vaccine, who also contract the flu, tend to experience milder symptoms and be less contagious. Many people mistakenly believe they are too healthy to get the flu or are too busy to heed its warning signs. Please be on the lookout for the following symptoms, even if you have received the flu vaccine:
- Fever or feeling feverish/chills
- Sore throat
- Runny or stuffy nose
- Muscle or body aches
- Fatigue (tiredness)
- Vomiting and diarrhea (more common in children than adults)
If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, and may have had exposure to the flu virus, please call your primary care provider’s office as soon as possible. They can identify the best treatment options, which may include anti-viral medications and provide advice on ways to recover quicker and help avoid spreading the flu. Additionally, please be considerate of your friends, neighbors, co-workers, and classmates, and stay home to help prevent spreading the flu.
Be a Good Neighbor
Other ways you can help stop the spread of flu and keep those around you healthy include:
- Cover coughs and sneezes with tissues or the inside of your elbow
- Wash your hands frequently or use alcohol-based hand sanitizer
- Avoid contact with sick people
- Clean commonly shared items such as light switches, remote controls, doorknobs, and faucets
I wish everyone in the Rutgers Community a happy and safe holiday season and a healthy 2019.
Brian L. Strom, MD, MPH
Chancellor, Rutgers Biomedical and Health Sciences
Executive Vice President for Health Affairs, Rutgers University