H1N1 Influenza


Can I get an H1N1 flu shot at Brown?

Every fall, Health Services provides free flu shots for all Brown students.  We will advertise this across campus as soon as the flu shots become available.  If you have any questions, you can call Nursing at 401.863-1330. The vaccine provides protection against seasonal flu and H1N1.

What is H1N1 and how is it different from regular seasonal flu?

H1N1 is a new strain of the influenza virus with similar symptoms and behavior to the seasonal flu that infects people every year. As it is a new virus, humans have no natural immunity to it, so we expect a large number of people will be infected this fall. Like most other states, H1N1 is prevalent in Rhode Island and patients with flu-like symptoms are presumed to have the H1N1 virus.  At this time, the virus has behaved similarly to the seasonal flu with the vast majority of patients recovering without any problems.

What are the symptoms of H1N1?

The symptoms are virtually identical to seasonal flu and consist most commonly of sudden onset of fever, body aches, dry cough and sore throat. It is different from a "stomach bug" which usually consists of nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea and from the common cold which is usually milder and does not come on as quickly.

How is it transmitted?

Like seasonal flu, H1N1 spreads mostly from droplets (like spit and mucous) from the mouth, nose, and throat. This happens when a person with the flu coughs or sneezes near (within 3-6 feet) an uninfected person.  The virus can also live a few hours on surfaces so you can become infected by touching something like a doorknob or telephone that has been touched by someone with the flu and then touching your mouth, nose, or eyes. This is why frequent hand washing or use of an alcohol-based hand gel (like Purell) is so important.

back to top

How can I stay healthy?

Practice good hygiene

  • Wash hands often with warm water and soap or use an alcohol-based hand gel frequently,  especially after you cough or sneeze.
  • Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Throw the tissue in the trash after you use it. If tissue is not available, cough into your sleeve/elbow.
  • Avoid touching your mouth, nose, or eyes.

Get the regular seasonal flu vaccine
Although the regular seasonal flu vaccine does not protect against H1N1, we encourage all students to get the vaccine this year. The more regular seasonal flu we can prevent, the more resources we will have to treat all students. For current seasonal flu vaccine availability, students should contact University Health Services at (401) 863-1330.

Note:  Students with the following conditions are strongly urged to receive the seasonal flu vaccine: 

• Pregnant women
• People with significant asthma or other respiratory illness
• People with significant chronic cardiovascular, liver, blood, neurologic disease
• Those who have diabetes, HIV, or are taking immunosuppressive drugs

back to top

What symptoms do I look for?

Most people who get the flu will have a sudden onset of fever, dry cough, body aches, sore throat, headache and extreme fatigue.  If you have a fever of 100 or greater and/or a cough or sore throat, then you meet the definition of likely having the H1N1 virus.  As mandated by the Rhode Island Department of Health, we will not be testing for H1N1 (like medical offices everywhere).  As there is so much H1N1 in the country, we are advised to presume you have it and treat you accordingly.

What do I do if I am sick?

1. Register with Brown’s “FluWeb” for assistance with your health care and missed classes. This online system allows you to report your illness and receive support from the deans in Student Life and the College. Please do not attend class if you have a fever of 100-degrees Fahrenheit or higher with a cough and/or sore throat.

2. Call Health Services (401.863-1330) or EMS for care.

Call EMS (Emergency Medical Services)at 401.863-4111 if you have (or your roommate/friend has):

  • Pain in your chest;
  • Difficulty breathing;
  • Confusion or decreased awareness.

Call Health Services at 401.863-1330 IMMEDIATELY if you have:

  • Severe headache;
  • Rash;
  • Stiff neck.

Call Health Services at 401.863-1330 TODAY if you:

  • Were feeling better for 24 hours but now feel ill again (especially if you currently have fever or cough);
  • Have bloody or rust-colored mucous;
  • Have severe sore throat;
  • Are unable to keep fluids down (i.e., you are vomiting back up anything you drink);
  • Have any other condition that concerns you;
  • Have a chronic medical condition, or are pregnant or nursing, and have not already talked with a University Health Services provider. (Chronic medical conditions include significant asthma or other respiratory illness, significant chronic cardiovascular, liver, blood, neurologic disease or diabetes, HIV, or taking immunosuppressive drugs).

3. Limit contact with others

  • If you have family or friends (non-Brown students) off campus and are able to go there to recover, we urge you to do so.
  • Keep away from others as much as possible; the further the better but greater than 6 feet is best and stay in your room until you have no fever for 24 hours (without fever reducing medication). 
  • Cover your cough and clean your hands with soap and water or an alcohol-based sanitizer often and especially after coughing or sneezing.
  • If possible, remain in a room separate from the common areas of your home/suite/ residence hall (i.e., spare bedroom with its own bathroom).
  • Keep the door to your room closed. If not possible, (i.e., shared bedroom) arrange beds as far apart as possible and stay on opposite side of room when your roommate is present.
  • Use a separate bathroom, if possible. If not possible, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer or wash your hands before and after use of the bathroom.
  • Wear a mask when you are in a common bathroom except for bathing and brushing teeth and when others are in your room.
  • Shower separate from others.
  • Ask those in your household/suite/room to wash their hands often with soap and water or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
  • Unless necessary for medical care, do not leave your home until you do not have a fever for 24 hours (without fever reducing medication). You are most likely to spread the infection during this time.
  • If you need to leave your bedroom/home, (i.e., for medical care), cover your mouth and nose when coughing and if possible wear a mask.
  • Protect others by having no (or very limited) visitors, practice good hygiene and cough etiquette, use separate towels and eating utensils
  • Ask others to also follow these guidelines.
  • Masks are available with RPLs in each residence hall and at Health Services.

3. Treat your symptoms

  • Fever: Fever is the most common symptom of the flu. To treat your fever, keep your room as cool as possible, wear light weight clothing, drink plenty of fluids, such as water, diluted fruit juices or Powerade, and take acetaminophen or ibuprofen per label instructions. Do not take aspirin.
  • Cough: a dry cough is a cough that does not bring up much mucous. Drink lots of clear liquids, avoid alcohol, caffeine, and cigarettes.   Rest, soothe your throat with salt water gargles (½ teaspoon salt in 8 ounces of warm water) or cough lozenges.
  • Body aches/headaches:  Acetaminophen or ibuprofen will also help relieve body aches and/or headaches.  Follow label directions.
  • Avoid dehydration: To prevent this, drink plenty of fluids.  Suggestions include water, broth, diluted fruit juices or Powerade, vegetable juices, decaffeinated tea, hot water with honey and lemon, Jello or popsicles.

Call Health Services at (401.863-1330) if you experience worsening of your symptoms and especially if you have chest pain, shortness of breath, inability to drink adequate fluids or for any severe symptom.

If you or your roommate are pregnant, have significant asthma or other respiratory illnesses, significant chronic heart, liver, blood or neurological disease or have diabetes, HIV or are taking immunosuppressive drugs, please contact UHS (401-863-1330) immediately.

back to top

What do I do if I am living with a sick person?

  • Contact Health Services immediately if you are pregnant, have significant asthma or respiratory illness, significant chronic cardiovascular, liver, blood, neurologic disease or diabetes, HIV, or are taking immunosuppressive drugs.
  • Consider moving in with a friend or if in a suite into the bedroom of another suite mate until the sick person recovers.
  • If you share a bedroom with the sick person, sleep as far away as possible and use your room as little as possible until the sick person recovers.
  • Keep as far away from your roommate as possible and try to avoid face to face contact; ideally at least 6 feet apart.
  • Clean your hands with soap and water or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer on entering and leaving your room.
  • Ask your roommate to wear a mask while you are in the same room, especially if they are coughing or sneezing.
  • Masks are available with RPLs in each residence hall and at Health Services.
  • If you develop ILI symptoms, call Health Services at 401.863-1330 for medical advice.

Campus resources

Brown students can contact Health Services at 401-863-1330 for questions and medical advice.  In an emergency, call EMS at 401-863-4111.

Links you can use

For other sources of information, you can go to:

Brown University's Flu Web to register your illness

The Centers for Disease Control

The Rhode Island Department of Health

back to top

Disclaimer: Health Education is part of Health Services at Brown University. Health Education maintains this site as a resource for Brown students. This site is not intended to replace consultation with your medical providers. No site can replace real conversation. Health Education offers no endorsement of and assumes no liability for the currency, accuracy, or availability of the information on the sites we link to or the care provided by the resources listed. Health Services staff are available to treat and give medical advice to Brown University students only. If you are not a Brown student, but are in need of medical assistance please call your own health care provider or in case of an emergency, dial 911. Please contact us if you have comments, questions or suggestions.