When the term “immunization” comes up, controversy often follows. Despite overwhelming scientific evidence to the contrary, people still believe that immunizations can cause autism, that there are unsafe levels of mercury and formaldehyde in them, and that flu shots give people the flu. All of these are myths, yet when flu season comes around, many students still refuse to get the flu shot.
In an effort to combat these misconceptions about flu, the South End and Campus Health Center have published three articles about the flu in recent years:
These articles go over the benefits of the flu shot and will hopefully increase Wayne State’s flu immunization rate. According to the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases, the campus average for flu immunization coverage is between 8 and 39 percent. Imagine being in a lecture hall like General Lectures 100, which has a 750 seat capacity. With only 8-39 percent of students on average protected, the flu has the potential to spread like wildfire. The more people protected, the greater the herd immunity, and the overall better campus health.
The American College Health Association (ACHA) runs a program called Healthy Campus 2020, which is similar to the Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion’s Healthy People 2020. Both programs set health-related objectives to work toward every ten years. Healthy Campus 2020 has two objectives related to flu shots, the first of which is:
- Objective AI-1.4: Reduce the proportion of students who report that their academic performance was adversely affected by cold/flu/sore throat in the past 12 months.
At baseline, in spring 2010, 18 percent of students reported that a cold/flu/sore throat adversely affected academic performance over the past 12 months. What exactly does academic performance being “adversely affected” mean? ACHA defines this as receiving a lower grade on an exam or an important project, receiving a lower grade in a course, receiving an incomplete or dropping a course, or experiencing a significant disruption in thesis, dissertation, research, or practicum work. These are serious barriers to academic achievement, a significant portion of which could be alleviated by a free flu shot. ACHA’s goal is to reduce this to 16.2 percent by 2020.
Healthy Campus 2020’s second flu-related objective is:
- Objective IID-12: Increase the proportion of students who report receiving the influenza vaccine in the last 12 months.
At baseline, 39.9 percent of students in spring 2010 reported having received influenza vaccine in the prior 12 months. ACHA’s goal is to increase this to 43.9 percent by 2020.
While it is still possible to get the flu after getting a flu shot, having the immunization will more than likely keep you out of the hospital, will dramatically lessen the symptoms, and will prevent you from being out of class for a significant period of time. NBC News published an article earlier this year titled “College Students Get ‘F’ for Flu Vaccinations” in which they explain how 95 percent of those who got the flu were not vaccinated in the first place. Remember that it takes a couple of weeks for the protection from the flu shot to take hold, so it is best to get it as early as possible in the season. Plus, you can just get it over with and not worry about it the rest of the flu season.
It is crucial that students convince other students of the benefits of receiving the flu shot. Word of mouth works best; though the Campus Health Center holds free flu shot clinics at various locations on campus, flu clinic outreach could be boosted by students and student organizations spreading the word to each other.
The Campus Health Center and Wayne State University is the three-time winner of the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services College Flu Challenge , so if your health and the health of your friends and family is not enough for you to get a flu shot, do it for school pride!
Every student at WSU—whether they are an undergraduate or graduate student at the main campus, a satellite campus, or online only—are eligible for a flu shot at no-out-of-pocket cost, which means that CHC will bill your insurance if you have it, but you will not be charged for the flu shot.
You can make an appointment Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. by calling Campus Health at 313-577-5041, or swing by [clinic site] for one of our upcoming clinics:
- Tuesday, November 7 from 10am-2pm at Mort Harris, Lobby
- Thursday, November 16 from 10am-2pm at Matthaei, Lobby
- Tuesday, November 21 from 10am-2pm at Matthaei, Lobby
- Wednesday, November 29 from 10am-2pm at Mort Harris, Lobby