Do I Have the Flu?

How to Recognize Flu Symptoms

Students at College of the Canyons have lots of questions about H1N1 flu, and the Student Health & Wellness Center is here to help. If this list of Frequently Asked Questions does not answer yours, give us a call at 661-362-3259, or visit

1. Do you diagnose H1N1 at the student health center?

No. Patients in the hospital with flu and at selected outpatient sites are cultured for H1N1. In outpatient clinics like the Student Health Center, we diagnose "influenza-like illness," when someone has sudden onset of fever over 100.0 degrees Fahrenheit plus sore throat and/or cough (when no bacterial infection is present). Other symptoms may be present, but do not define the flu. Within 48 hours after flu symptoms begin, we can prescribe anti-viral medication like Tamiflu and Relenza.

2. What is the usual course of this flu in COC students?

It starts suddenly with fever over 100 degrees F. and chills, severe sore throat and/or cough. This lasts 3 or 4 days. Then most people feel better for 3 or 4 days, until milder symptoms return, lasting an additional 3 or 4 days. The flu makes you feel very tired for a couple of weeks.

3. Is it better to call, or to come to the health center?

We'd prefer a call rather than a visit. This helps decrease exposure of others to the flu. If you have severe trouble breathing, go to the emergency room. Otherwise, stay home, drink water and baby yourself unmercifully. Don't go to school or work until you have a normal temperature for 24 hours without use of fever-reducing medication.

4. Do I need to avoid class if another student has the flu?

No. People who get this influenza-like illness are contagious (able to pass it on to others) for a day or two before they get sick, which makes avoiding people with the flu almost impossible. We've seen and heard from people with influenza-like illness all summer and into the fall semester at the Health Center.

5. How can I stay healthy?

Act like a health care professional: wash your hands frequently and avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth. Use hand sanitizer when unable to use soap and water. Don't share soda cans, straws, etc. with others. Keep your immune system strong by eating fruits, whole grains and veggies; sleep 7 to 8 hours each night; walk or do other exercise for 30 minutes daily, find time to be in the moment instead of worrying about the past or future, and don't smoke.

6. Who should get the flu shot?

You, if you haven't got time to be sick this year. Even if you think you already had H1N1 flu, unless it was confirmed at a hospital, get the vaccine when it becomes available. Both seasonal and H1N1 vaccines will eventually be here in enough quantity for everyone. For now, production is slow, so the priority groups for the first doses of H1N1 are those most likely to become seriously ill from the new flu and people in contact with them: people 6 months to 24 years old; health care workers; women who are pregnant or plan to be pregnant this flu season; and caregivers of children under 6 months old. Seasonal flu vaccine is recommended for all children, in addition to traditional high risk groups (seniors, pregnant women, chronic conditions, etc).

7. Will the student health center offer H1N1 flu vaccine?

Yes. We ordered the vaccine, but do not know when it will arrive. It may possibly arrive the first week in November.

8. Can I get the flu from a flu shot?

No. It does take 8 to 10 days to be effective, however, so if you were already exposed to the flu, the vaccination might be too late to protect you fully.

College of the Canyons
Valencia campus: 26455 Rockwell Canyon Road, Santa Clarita, CA 91355 • (661) 259-7800
Canyon Country campus: 17200 Sierra Highway, Canyon Country, CA 91351 • (661) 362-3800

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