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Survey shows decrease in the number of students who receive flu shots

By Rebecca Huff, Senior Staff Writer

Flu (influenza) season is back. Running nose, coughing, fever, chills and body aches have resurfaced.

However, while the flu runs the rampant among the student body, the number of college students arming themselves against the virus is low.

For the 2014-2015 flu season, The Center for Disease Control (CDC) reported that starting at six months to 23 months of age, 74.6 percent of children received the vaccination; but only 33.5 percent of 18 to 49 year olds did.

The decreasing number of vaccinations with the increase of age holds true for the Miami student body as well.

Of 167 Miami students surveyed, 71 percent said they grew up getting flu shots but only 46 percent continue to get them.

The habits of college students getting the flu shot are based on a variety of factors. These factors include parent influence, cultural norms and the transition from living at home to being an independent college student.

Sophomore Sunny Suo is one of the 46 percent who don't get the flu shot anymore.

"I don't think it's very necessary and because I'm not going to get the flu," Suo said. "I'm healthy and so, I don't have that sense that I need to take it annually."

First-year Josh Pullman grew up getting the flu shot too, but says it was only every other year.

"My parents didn't want me to get the flu but they also wanted to space it out," he said.

The tradition follows him to college. He explains that yes, getting the flu shot may be parent influenced but concludes with why he still gets the shot.

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Pullman and Suo come from different backgrounds and cultures that may influence their habits surrounding the flu shot.

Pullman grew up in a Chicago Suburb with his friends and family all getting flu shots; whereas Suo, grew up in Shanghai, China.

"In my country not everybody does that. They'll get it but not annually," she said.

Junior Christopher Randall describes a different reason why college students aren't getting the shot - practicality.

"I think a lot of college students consider themselves too busy and especially the ones who are out of town and don't have cars on campus," Randall said. "They don't get flu shots because it's not practical."

Although walking to CVS, Walgreens or Kroger may not be practical for students without a car, the health center does offer vaccinations at a $35 fee that is usually covered by most insurance providers.

Scott Sellers, Kroger pharmacy manager, guesses out of roughly 800 shots given yearly, only 150 of those are Miami students and that's because of parent influence.

"I would encourage college students especially the ones living in dorms that are in close quarters with each other and even [students] living in houses to get the flu shots," he said.

Getting the flu shot does not increase the chances of contracting the flu and does not infect the person with the virus. The vaccine is created with antigens from strains that are specific to the season, which means the vaccine changes from year to year. The CDC recommends getting the flu shot annually to protect against the current year's strains.

Although the CDC, physicians and pharmacists recommend getting the flu shot, Pullman explains the hesitance.

"There's been a lot of controversy about the vaccinations recently and how they're bad for you," Pullman said. "From the evidence that I've seen it's overwhelmingly not a cause for alarm."