As many as one in five college students develop influenza-related illness each year. The close quarters on campus allow viruses to spread very quickly.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention does not specifically recommend that college students get the annual flu shot unless they are in a high risk group, such as those with asthma or immune system disorders.
But new research from the University of Minnesota suggests the flu vaccine has some big payoffs for all students.
Researchers followed nearly 13,000 students at two campuses over 4 flu seasons. Only 30% of the students received the flu vaccine, but 1 in 4 developed a flu-like illness.
Those who received the flu shot needed fewer antibiotics, were sick for fewer days, and missed less work and class time than those who did not get the vaccine.
Overall, the vaccine reduced students' chances of developing flu-like illness by 30 percent. Experts suggest that extending flu vaccine recommendations to the nation' s 18 million college students could significantly cut their winter illness each year.