Influenza vaccinations could benefit college students

By Tom Nordlie • Published: March 6th, 2009
Category: Health in a Heartbeat

College is hard enough when you’re perfectly healthy.

Throw in a case of the flu, and the result could be missed classes, bungled assignments and lower grades.

Previous studies have suggested that about one-quarter of U-S college students develop an influenza-type illness during a typical flu season.

So Minnesota researchers set out to determine if flu vaccinations could help.

The results, published in the journal Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine, say the answer is yes.

Over a four-year period, scientists recruited almost thirteen-thousand volunteers from two Minnesota colleges.

All of them provided information on their general health and vaccination status and at least one follow-up indicating whether they’d gotten sick during flu season.

About one-third of the volunteers had received flu vaccinations.

The vaccinated subjects were somewhat older, predominately female and more likely to be at high risk for the flu.

Overall, one-fourth of the volunteers experienced an influenza-type illness during the flu seasons, which occur sometime between December and March.

But the vaccinated students were about twenty percent less likely to become sick.

And even if they did get sick, those who were vaccinated got better half a day sooner, on average.

Interestingly, vaccinated and unvaccinated students had similar risk for flu-type illnesses during other times of year.

More and more, college students are looking for ways to gain an academic edge.

So maybe flu shots are one part of the puzzle.

After all, it’s hard to do your best… when you’re feeling your worst.