During class, the girl next to you sniffles and wipes her nose, the guy behind you coughs and someone on the other side of the room lets out a sneeze. Germs are all around us, especially while in college. We are in the peak of flu season and it is important to keep yourself healthy by getting the flu shot, but not all students do.
For a variety of reasons, some students do not get the flu shot. When asked why, most students replied that they did not have the time. If you are not near a hospital or vaccination center, it can be easy for students to forget about the yearly vaccine.
“The time it takes to get the shot is minimal compared to the time you lose if you get influenza. It is just terrible, you miss work, you miss school,” said Lisa Dannemiller, interim chief university physician at DeWeese Health Center.
Diseases like the flu are spread through close contact with others that are sick or by items they have touched. In college, it is impossible to not interact with people either in class, the dining halls and even the dorms. This is why many students have gotten the current flu shot. The CDC recommends that everyone over 6 months old get a shot every flu season to avoid hospitalization. The Ohio Department of Health has reported 68 flu-related hospitalizations in Portage County alone.
“It is really quick and easy to find places to get the flu shot,” said Joan Hall, an epidemiologist at Summit County Public Health. “Most drug stores do it so it is quick and convenient.”
One way to help keep yourself safe from the flu is to make sure the objects you are touching are kept clean. In communal classroom settings, it is important to remember that objects can spread the virus. Kent custodial workers work hard to make sure all surfaces are clean to try to minimize spreading of the flu on campus.
“We are sanitizing everything,” said housekeeping supervisor Jason Lewis. “Clorox wiping for every door handle to keep things clean.”
While some students opt out of getting the flu shot for a variety of reasons, many students get the shot in order to stay healthy. The CDC has reported a total of over 170.9 million doses of the vaccine distributed across the country.
Some students, specifically international students, go out of their way to make sure they have the vaccination.
“It is my first time here,” said graduate student Ashwini Bhajantri about Ohio. “So I wanted to be safe.”
Hall believes international students are not at any higher risk compared to American college students because they are in the same environment, but she says everyone who can should get the flu shot.
Dannemiller said students cannot get the flu from the vaccine because they are getting a dead version of the virus. The DeWeese Health Center offers flu shots through immunization clinics and flash clinics.
Shelby Reeves is a health reporter. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.