By Kailey Love | The Duquesne Duke
In the midst of stressful midterms and possibly unwelcome temperature changes, there is one more thing that you need to add onto your surely growing list of worries; flu season.
Living in such close quarters and sharing bathrooms with such a large group of people makes college students very susceptible to the virus. While the flu is usually regarded as a mild disease, the Centers for Disease Control estimates 200,000 people each year are hospitalized with a severe case. With that in mind, there are a lot of important things that need to be taken care of to ensure that you don’t get caught up in the epidemic.
College students are at a higher risk of contracting the flu, and the CDC lists certain precautions you must take in order to stay healthy. Most of them are common sense practices you should already do – always using soap and water to wash your hands, sneezing and coughing into a tissue or your sleeve, and avoiding touching your eyes, nose and mouth.
Something you may not have thought of is disinfecting surfaces where germs manifest themselves – such as the desk in your room, refrigerator and microwave surfaces, as well as making sure to change your sheets frequently. Being diligent about keeping your room is cleaned is a chore that can slip your mind during the most stressful months of college. Incidentally, that’s when flu season is at its worst.
Even with all of these precautions taken, there is still no guarantee that you won’t come down with the flu. The most surefire way to protect yourself this winter is to get vaccinated. However, according to a study done by professor Janet Yang of the University of Buffalo, only eight percent of college students received their flu shot in the past two years. Extending that trend further, the CDC reports that over the last 12 months within the larger 18- to 49-year-old age bracket only 31.2 percent received the shot.
Even more impressively, in a study done by economics professor Ellen Magenheim of Swathmore University, an email was sent to all students offering a $30 incentive to those who got the shot in an attempt to find the most effective method to get students vaccinated. Even with the monetary incentive, only 43 percent of students actually followed through and got vaccinated.
So why are college students so reluctant to get their shots? Yang found that many students were acting on falsehoods and overconfidence when it came to the vaccine, ignorant to the fact that the flu shot doesn’t actually infect you with the flu. According to the CDC, the only side effects are tenderness or swelling where the shot was given, and potentially a minor headache or low grade fever – not the actual flu itself.
When asked about vaccination, many Duquesne students admitted that they either have not received the shot yet this year, or that they were not planning on getting vaccinated at all. Most students had a myriad of excuses such as a phobia of needles, cost reasons, busy schedules or simply forgetting
For students that cited busyness as their reason for not getting vaccinated, there is a solution to your problem. If you weren’t previously aware, flu vaccinations are being administered right here on campus. The campus Center for Pharmacy Care hosted its first round of flu vaccinations on Oct. 1 in the Student Union. Don’t fret if you didn’t make it this time around, because there are upcoming clinics on Nov. 5 and Dec. 3 between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. It costs is $35, and students receive a $5 discount if they present their Student I.D.