Health Department Encourages College Students to Get A Flu Shot During the Holiday Break

For Immediate Release:  Dec. 22, 2009
Media Contact: Communication Office
Vermont Department of Health
802-863-7281

BARRE – The most important stop on Sylvie Daley’s long holiday journey from college in the State of Washington to Washington County, Vermont will be Barre Auditorium.

Two days before Christmas, Daley will line up for a nasal spray dose of vaccine at a public clinic.

“I wasn’t going to get a shot because I figured I was healthy and could bounce back soon enough – but I realized after one of my housemates got ill that I come in contact with a lot of people at work and school – and if I caught the flu and gave it to someone else – that wouldn’t be fair,” said Daley, 20, of Marshfield.

Daley, a junior, lives off campus with four other housemates, all of whom were out ill during the past few months with flu-like symptoms. Young people were among the hardest hit by the H1N1 flu virus as it spread throughout the United States, and the 18 to 24-year-old age group were among the least likely to get vaccinated.

Many students self-isolated in rooms and flu dorms until their fever was gone for 24 hours and they felt well enough to begin classes again.

Daley’s college (University of Puget Sound) offered the shots throughout the semester, as college students were among the priority groups identified as being most at risk for serious illness from the flu. One reason students were not making an effort to get vaccinated, Daley said, was laziness.

“Most people I knew were not taking advantage of the shots offered at the health center, even though we knew there was plenty available if we wanted it,” she said. “We just didn't make the time to go.”

H1N1 flu illness has dropped significantly during the past few weeks, but cases continue to be confirmed in Vermont. Public health officials are continuing to urge people to get vaccinated. Vermont opened vaccination to anyone 6 months and older on Dec. 21, but people most at risk for serious complications from the flu are still the focus of the vaccination effort.

The Health Department is hoping that parents understand that their children are never too old to be reminded to do the right thing.

“I know the vaccine is safe and effective,” Daley said. “And – no – I am not getting vaccinated only because my mother told me to get vaccinated.”

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