Attention all students, flu season is here! In order to increase awareness and spread knowledge of the flu, the New Jersey Department of Health (NJDOH) Vaccine Preventable Disease Program (VPDP) implemented the inaugural New Jersey College and University Flu Challenge.
Kean University will be participating in the challenge this year along with other New Jersey colleges and universities statewide to give insight onto the vaccination rates of college-aged students.
The challenge was enforced to increase the awareness and consciousness surrounding the significance of a flu vaccination for college students.
Robin Mansfield, the director of Student Health Services, acknowledges that the flu challenge will aid in higher numbers of students getting vaccinations.
"The New Jersey Department of Health wanted to raise awareness of the flu vaccine for college students, because college students are one of the lowest portions of the population that actually gets vaccinated. So their idea was to create this challenge to bring a little competition and to encourage students to get their flu shot," said Mansfield.
Mansfield also wants students to understand that the vaccine will decrease one's risk of getting the flu, which can last from 8 to 10 days.
"Our whole perspective in Student Health Services is to improve your chances for academic success, keeping you healthy so that you are able to be successful," said Mansfield.
Furthermore, a National Foundation of Infectious Diseases (NFID) survey was conducted in Oct. 2017 for college students 18 to 24 years old who were currently attending a 2-year or 4-year college or university. The survey found that 70 percent of college students in the United States believe it is important to get an annual influenza vaccine, and about 46 percent say they typically get vaccinated.
As per this survey, it shows that young adults have been shown to have lower flu immunization rates compared to other ages, making it less accessible for students.
According to the NFID, "Access to the vaccine at low or no cost (61 percent) and incentives, such as free food or gift cards (61 percent), were among the top offerings that students say would have a lot of impact on the likelihood of getting vaccinated."
Kean students will be asked to self-report their vaccination status via a short six question online survey. The institution with the highest percentage of vaccination coverage based on undergraduate student population will be presented with a traveling trophy from the NJDOH.
The Student Heath Services will be providing six on-campus flu vaccine days including:
- Sept. 19 - Flu Clinic will be held in the Miron Student Center (MSC) from 2 to 6 p.m.
- Oct. 2 - Vaccine Day will be held in the MSC from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. with other required vaccines
- Oct. 25 - Flu Clinic will be held in Downs Hall from 2 to 6 p.m.
- Nov. 7 - Vaccine Day will be held in the MSC from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m with other required vaccines available
- Nov. 27 - Flu Clinic will be held in the Miron Student Center (MSC) from 2 to 6 p.m.
- Dec. 11 - Flu Clinic will be held in Downs Hall from 2 to 6 p.m.
With the flu challenge just starting, Mansfield and the Student Health Services Department are hopeful that the numbers will be great and that they will get the vaccinations. The first results come out in the beginning of October. Four times during the challenge, the Department of Health will update Health Services about their progress.
For more information about the challenge or any other health related questions, students can visit the Student Health Services webpage on the Kean website, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call the office at (908) 737-4880.