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Higher Ed in the News

Flu on campus

February 22, 2009

Every year, about 1 in 4 college students gets the flu - and one health expert says many arrive on campus not realizing how bad a bout of flu can be.

Avoiding misery for $20

Dr. Peter Doyle, director of Northeastern University's health services in Boston, says "true flu," as distinguished from an ordinary cold, can be two weeks of "aching joints, aching muscles, high fever, pounding headache, inability to get out of bed, shaking chills - a completely disruptive illness."

A number of students each year end up with dangerous cases of bacterial pneumonia that can follow on the heels of the flu. Occasionally, a previously healthy young adult dies.

But there is a cheap insurance policy against such a devastating loss: a $20 flu shot.

Recent study

Researchers followed more than 12,000 students at the University of Minnesota and St. Olaf's College over four flu seasons. They found that for every two people vaccinated against flu, there was one fewer day of flu or flu-like illness.

The new study documents other vaccination benefits that the authors say have not been measured before in college students - a much lower risk of missed classes, missed assignments and botched tests.

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