Information for Students

Wondering if you have the flu?

Not feeling well? Wondering if you should seek medical treatment or just wait it out? The University of Iowa has posted some triage questions which may help you decide on the best course of action based on your symptoms and general health. Link to questions about your symptoms.

How can I best protect myself and stay healthy?

Get vaccinated against seasonal influenza and follow these basic precautions:

  • Wash your hands frequently or used alcohol-based hand sanitizing gels, especially after coughing or sneezing. Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth.
  • Try to avoid close contact with sick people.
  • Stay home when you’re sick. Don’t return to work, school, or other activities until you’ve had no fever for 24 hrs, without the use of fever-reducing medications.
  • Cover your nose or mouth with your sleeve, the crook of your harm, or a tissue—not with your bare hand—when you cough or sneeze.
  • Throw used tissues in the trash.
  • Don’t share food, drink, or utensils.
  • Eat smart and exercise regularly to support your overall health.

What if I get sick?

The symptoms of influenza include:

  • Fever of 100 degrees F or higher
  • Cough
  • Sore throat
  • Body aches
  • Headache
  • Chills
  • Fatigue

If you have these symptoms, stay home until you’ve had no fever for 24 hrs, without the use of fever-reducing medications. Don’t go to class or work, meet with groups of people, attend office hours, or keep in-person appointments. Policies for illness-related absences vary, so check with your instructors to find out when you need to provide a doctor's note or other verification.

Most people who get sick with influenza won’t need medical care. But women who are pregnant or people with chronic health conditions should seek guidance from their doctors if they experience influenza symptoms. More information on flu and pregnancy.

If you need advice, contact the Student Health & Wellness Nurseline at 319/335-9704. When Student Health is closed, you can call University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics at 319/384-8442.

What are signs of more serious problems?

Call 911 or seek emergency treatment if you have difficulty breathing or shortness of breath; feel pain or pressure in your chest or abdomen; suddenly get dizzy or confused; or experience severe or persistent vomiting. Seek help if your influenza-like symptoms get better, but then return with a worse fever and cough.

Will I be penalized for missing class?

No—your grades won’t be affected if you’re following recommendations from health authorities and following policies for illness-related absences. Use the Absence from Class form on the Registrar's site to report your illness to your instructor. You will be responsible for the entire semester’s material and will need to make up work you miss.

Any chance classes will be canceled during a flu outbreak?

Classes and other activities generally will proceed as scheduled. Health officials will monitor influenza conditions on campus and broadly communicate any decisions about suspending classes, events, or activities.

What if my roommate gets sick?

People exposed to sick roommates, housemates, or family members can go to school or work as usual. If someone you live with is sick, monitor your health every day and take common-sense precautions like washing your hands regularly or using alcohol-based hand sanitizers.

If you are pregnant or have a chronic medical condition, contact Student Health & Wellness or your doctor for guidance—they may prescribe antiviral drugs to prevent illness. If you begin to get influenza symptoms, stay home. More information on flu and pregnancy.

People with influenza can be contagious up to a day before they have symptoms, so you can catch influenza from someone who doesn’t seem to be sick. Once you get the virus, it can take up to three days for symptoms to appear.

I live in a residence hall. What should I do if I get sick? 

If you start to develop influenza symptoms, make plans to isolate yourself. That will help prevent others from getting sick.

Plan to wear a facemask if you use shared spaces or interact with other residents, including your roommates. Face masks are available at the front desk in your residence hall. Ask a friend to pick one up for you.

Tell your resident assistant (RA) and your roommates or suitemates that you’re coming down with influenza symptoms. Stay home from school, work, and activities, and avoid close contact with others until you’ve had no fever for 24 hrs, without the use of fever-reducing medications.

What about food in the residence halls?

If you live in a residence hall, you can request a meal to be picked up and brought to you by a friend or roommate. Your friend can take your ID to Burge or Hillcrest Marketplace where they can get food to-go for you. Talk to your RA or call the Main Desk staff in your residence hall if you need help with getting food and fluids.

How about other supplies?

The C-Stores in Currier, Hillcrest, Mayflower, and the Iowa Memorial Unions, as well as the University Book Store, carry digital thermometers, facemasks, hand sanitizers, and disinfectant spray.

My residence hall roomate is sick--what do I do?

Clean your space, including doorknobs and appliances, with a multipurpose cleaner such as Formula 409 Antibacterial or other antibacterial cleanser. Try to stay at least 6 feet away from your roommate, and encourage him or her to wear a facemask while in your room.

See if you can find a healthy friend to stay with. If you can’t find anyone to stay with, talk to your hall coordinator—short-term relocation might be available.

Remember, you can be infected with the influenza virus and contagious 24 hours before symptoms actually appear.

Where can I get more information?

Student Health & Wellness provides prevention and health care information especially for UI students. Call their Nurseline number at 319/335-9704. To schedule an appointment, call 319/335-8394.

Ask a question

Have additional questions about influenza prevention, planning, and policies at the University of Iowa? Please e-mail us at We’ll look for answers and respond directly or post information to this site.