Boy sleeping on the couch staying home from school because he's sick


Feeling sick? When you should stay home from work or school

  • You are contagious with influenza for 1-2 days before your symptoms start.
  • If you have young children getting the flu shot for the first time, they will need two doses, four weeks apart.

Despite our best efforts, this is the time of year when sickness happens. Going to work when you’re sick or sending your child to school when he or she isn’t up to par increases the risk you will spread your illness to others. Those at greatest risk of picking up your bugs are infants under six months of age, pregnant women, people with chronic medical conditions, or folks undergoing chemotherapy treatment. For these people, catching a cold or flu often can lead to complications and even hospitalization or death.

Many schools have a “fever rule” that kids should be free of a fever for at least 24 hours before they come back to school. However, some contagious childhood illnesses—like the common cold, pink eye and some stomach flus—may not come with a fever.

Feeling miserable and need care now? Check walk-in wait times

When should you stay home when you’re sick?

I recommend that you stay home from work, keep your child home from school or seek medical advice when:

  • You are contagious to others (with a cold, flu, pink eye, staph skin infection, measles, mumps, etc.)
  • You are vomiting or have diarrhea
  • Have a fever of 100 degrees Fahrenheit or higher. If a thermometer is unavailable, then feeling chilled or having body aches suggests that you are running a fever.
  • Your illness makes it hard to focus and function at a normal level (due to back pain, a sinus infection, strep throat, etc.)
  • You have a strange rash (which might be caused by a staph infection, chicken pox, shingles or measles).
  • The side effects of medication, like drowsiness, puts you and others at risk for an accident, injury or mistake.

Need an appointment today? See all our walk-in clinic and urgent care locations, view live wait times and save your spot in line.

I tell my patients that spending a day or two at home, resting and treating your illness, may be the best medicine to avoiding complications or a lengthier illness. When staying at home doesn’t help, and if your symptoms persist or worsen despite two to three days at home, call your doctor, do an online visit or seek care at a walk-in clinic or urgent care. Don’t forget to ask the provider how long you could be considered contagious to others. 


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