This page was updated on
Flu Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
This list will be updated as new questions come in. To submit a question, please visit the Contact page.
What is Influenza (flu)?
Flu is a contagious respiratory illness caused by influenza viruses that infect the nose, throat, and sometimes the lungs. It can cause mild to severe illness.. The best way to prevent flu is by getting a flu vaccine each year.
What are the symptoms of the flu?
Influenza (flu) can cause mild to severe illness, and at times can lead to death. Flu symptoms usually come on suddenly. People who have the flu often feel some or all of these symptoms:
- fever* or feeling feverish/chills
- sore throat
- runny or stuffy nose
- muscle or body aches
- fatigue (tiredness)
- some people may have vomiting and diarrhea, though this is more common in children than adults.
*It’s important to note that not everyone with flu will have a fever. More information is available at Flu and COVID-19 symptoms.
What is the period of contagiousness?
You may be able to spread flu to someone else before you know you are sick, as well as when you are sick with symptoms.
- People with flu are most contagious in the first 3-4 days after their illness begins.
- Some otherwise healthy adults may be able to infect others beginning one day before symptoms develop and up to five to seven days after becoming sick.
- Some people, especially young children and people with weakened immune systems, might be able to infect others for an even longer time.
How does the flu spread?
Most experts believe that flu viruses spread mainly by tiny droplets made when people with flu cough, sneeze, or talk. These droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby. Less often, a person might get flu by touching a surface or object that has flu virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose or possibly their eyes.
How can I prevent seasonal flu?
The first and most important step in preventing flu is to get a flu vaccine each year. Flu vaccine has been shown to reduce flu related illnesses and the risk of serious flu complications that can result in hospitalization or even death. CDC also recommends everyday preventive actions (like staying away from people who are sick, covering coughs and sneezes, and frequent handwashing) to help slow the spread of germs that cause respiratory (nose, throat, and lungs) illnesses, like flu.
Can the flu be treated?
Yes. There are prescription medications called “antiviral drugs” that can be used to treat flu illness. CDC recommends prompt treatment for people who have flu or suspected flu and who are at higher risk of serious flu complications, such as people with asthma, diabetes (including gestational diabetes), or heart disease.
Should I get the flu vaccine?
Yes. Antiviral drugs are not a substitute for getting a flu vaccine. While flu vaccine can vary in how well it works, a flu vaccine is best way to help prevent seasonal flu and its potentially serious complications. Everyone 6 months and older should receive a flu vaccine every year. Antiviral drugs are a second line of defense that can be used to treat flu (including seasonal flu and variant flu viruses) if you get sick.
What are the benefits of antiviral drugs?
Antiviral treatment works best when started soon after flu illness begins. When treatment is started within two days of becoming sick with flu symptoms, antiviral drugs can lessen fever and flu symptoms and shorten the time you are sick by about one day. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention offers these details on what you should know about antiviral drugs.
Does Chapman require that I get a flu shot?
The university recommends that all students, faculty and staff receive the flu vaccine.