Flu shots low on college campuses

Posted at 10:17 AM, Sep 24, 2018

Flu season is here and experts say flu shot vaccination rates on college campuses is strikingly low.

College students actually get an 'F' for getting the flu shot. Some may have misconceptions about the safety and efficacy of the vaccine. Chances are these students are also making their own medical decisions for the first time so they think they're young and healthy and have the 'it won't happen to me' mentality.

A National Foundation of Infectious Diseases report from 2016 shows vaccination rates among college students is as low as 8% and as high as 39%.

Out of the 20,000 students treated at Michigan State University, around 15 percent or just 3,000 students per flu season are vaccinated.

"Students are at an increased risk for infection for influenza mainly because of the close proximity, communal living spaces, dorms, cafeterias, restrooms, and certainly classrooms and sometimes packing hundreds of students together," said Dr. Michael Mangan with MSU's Primary Care.

On average, college students who get the flu experience illness of eight days or more. That's time they could be spending going to class, studying, and participating in social activities.

"I was talking to a few people and they say they don't get them and it definitely surprised me. If you don't get them then you're definitely a threat to other people. I think it's important to be aware of it and how it's not only affecting you but others around you," said Caroline Weaver, a Freshman at MSU.

In order to increase the vaccination rate at MSU, Dr. Mangan said they could increase awareness and also break down barriers of under-insured or uninsured patients.

Dr. Mangan said it's really impossible to tell how severe the flu season will be this year, but it's better to get the shot sooner rather than later.

The shot is now available at the student center on campus.