Butler University using national competition to spread flu vaccine awareness

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – Butler University is upping its efforts to get its students and staff vaccinated with the flu vaccine.

For the second year, the university has entered itself into the Alana Yaksich National College/ University Flu Vaccination Challenge, a competition for schools across the country to gauge their effectiveness of getting their population vaccinated. Last year, Butler finished in fifth place among small schools. This year, they hope to take the top spot.

“We’re hoping for a couple thousand this year, we really are, we want to make sure we’re doing everything we can in terms of prevention to keep our campus healthy,” director of student health Julie Howerton said.

Last season, Howerton says campus health professionals vaccinated roughly 1,700 people in a five-month period beginning in October and ending in February. So far this year Howerton says they’ve already vaccinated about 1,200 people.

“We hope we’ll really get the message out there and get folks vaccinated,” Howerton said.

According to the CDC, more than 80,000 Americans died because of the flu last season. That’s the highest number of flu related deaths in 10 years. 336 Hoosiers were counted among those deaths according to the Indiana State Department of Health. Howerton says college kids are at higher risk to contract the flu due to their compressed living conditions and the sharing of spaces. As a result, Butler is staging multiple clinics and using social media to educate and encourage getting the vaccine.

“We really try to teach our students to care about each other, and by getting a flu shot shows that you do,” she said.

The CDC recommends that people get a flu vaccine by the end of October. Like previous years, there is a chance that this season’s flu vaccine won’t be 100 percent compatible with this season’s virus. Even so, health professionals say the vaccine is still your best chance for not contracting or spreading the flu.

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