Survey: 59% of college students think flu shot can cause flu

While 70 percent of college students believe it's important to get a flu shot, just 46 percent regularly get the vaccine, according to a survey conducted by the Harris Poll on behalf of the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases.

Harris Poll conducted the online survey from Oct. 12-31. More than 1,000 college students between the ages of 18 and 24 participated.

Here are three key findings.

1. Vaccine misconceptions fuel avoidance: Among respondents who do not typically get the vaccine, 36 percent said they are healthy and don't need it, 31 percent said they don't like needles and 30 percent said they don't think the vaccine works. Fifty-nine percent think the flu vaccine can transmit the illness.

2. Increasing accessibility may improve adherence: Sixty-one percent of respondents said making the flu shot available to college students at low or no cost would significantly increase vaccination rates. Forty-eight percent said having the flu shot available at multiple locations on campus would have a similar impact.

3. Family and healthcare professionals influence decision-making: Forty-eight percent of respondents said they rely on advice from a parent or family member when choosing whether to get a flu shot, 44 percent said healthcare professionals influence their decision, 24 percent said the student health center influences their choice, and 20 percent said friends and peers influence their decision.

"As a healthcare community, we've long known that college students are profoundly under-vaccinated," said Lisa S. Ipp, MD, NFID board member and an associate professor of clinical pediatrics at Weill Cornell Medicine in New York City. "This new research indicates that a combination of education and incentives may be an effective way to reach college students who have been apprehensive about vaccination in the past."

More articles on infection control: 
Flu vaccine linked to lower inpatient mortality among geriatric surgery patients 
WHO updates surveillance guidance for global flu pandemic: 3 things to know 
New York high school sees 6 cases of whooping cough

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