College football and basketball games may provide more than a way for students to show school spirit – they could help prevent the flu.
According to a new study by researchers at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center, colleges and universities should implement new or improved influenza vaccine strategies, such as giving flu shots at sporting events or during campus-wide, day-long campaigns, to increase the number of their students who get the annual flu vaccine.
In the early online edition of the December issue of the Journal of American College Health, the researchers found that only one in five college students at eight North Carolina universities reported getting a flu shot during the 2009–10 flu season.
"Influenza virus is contagious and is known to circulate through college campuses, enhanced by close living quarters, typical social activities and low vaccine coverage," said Kathy Poehling, M.D., associate professor pediatrics at Wake Forest Baptist and lead author of the study.
"With influenza virus already being detected this November, it is likely to increase in the next one to three months and may overlap with exam periods. Although it is hard to predict the severity of the coming flu season, we usually have more influenza activity after a mild season like last year's."
In this study, believed to be the first multi-university study to assess seasonal flu vaccine coverage, a total of 4,090 college students participated in a confidential, web-based survey in late October and November 2009 regarding whether they had received a flu shot.
Overall, 20 percent of the students reported they had been vaccinated during a year in which significant media attention focused on both seasonal and H1N1 flu. The seasonal vaccine coverage varied across the eight universities from 14 percent to 30 percent, which was considerably less than half of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' 2020 Healthy People goal of 80 percent coverage for healthy persons 18 to 64 years of age.
In addition, the researchers found that students more often reported receiving the vaccine from a private physician or clinic rather than from student health services, even though it was available free of charge.
Poehling said that the findings of this study, as well as results of previous studies conducted by other institutions, suggest that a multifaceted approach is needed to target students who live both on and off campus. University administrators will need to use a variety of communication approaches and be creative in their outreach efforts to encourage more students to get the annual flu vaccine, she said.
Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center: http://www.wfubmc.edu
This press release was posted to serve as a topic for discussion. Please comment below. We try our best to only post press releases that are associated with peer reviewed scientific literature. Critical discussions of the research are appreciated. If you need help finding a link to the original article, please contact us on twitter or via e-mail.
Doctors have used perfect replicas of childrens' hearts to uncover and repair hidden defects
An experiment testing people’s altruism in the face of electric shocks is clear on one thing: we are drawn to these little blasts
Researchers gear up tests in West Africa to see whether blood from Ebola survivors can help people who are sick with the disease. This is part of a broader effort to test therapies in West Africa.
The virus's foray into Europe coincides with peak production of Christmas turkeys, the poultry species most vulnerable to bird flu
A novel kind of nanoparticle could lead to more effective cancer treatments.Patients and doctors often don’t know if surgery to remove cancerous tissue was successful until scans are performed months later. A new kind of nanoparticle could show patients if they’re in the clear much earlier.
One challenge in evaluating the effectiveness of different medical procedures, is that patients behave differently after different procedures. Is this true for patients getting heart surgery?
It is only in the aftermath of treatment that survivors discern that their adrenalin alone wont fuel the rest of their recovery. For many, surviving cancer is followed by even more hardship
Just down the road from Facebook and Google, Dr. Phil Wagner runs a laboratory dedicated to optimizing the performance of some of the world's top athletes. At Sparta Performance Science in Menlo Park, California, Wagner and his team bring the spirit of Silicon Valley to bear on the athletic world, helping athletes find the tiny advantages that add to championships. Join us for a trip inside the lab to see where sports meets science.
Pieter Cohen, an internist in Massachusetts, got interested in dietary supplements several years ago, when some of his …
The risk of overdiagnosis and false positives means the UK may be barking up the wrong tree in trialling a wider target age range for breast screening