Few at NYU get flu shots despite high hospitalization rates

Flu shot rates have declined among NYU students as hospitalizations reach a 10-year high.

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Samson Tu

NYU is offering free flu shots for students. (Samson Tu for WSN)

Amna Sheikh, Contributing Writer

Avery Branch, a first-year at the Tisch School of the Arts, experienced nausea, body aches, cold sweats and faintness after testing positive for influenza earlier this year. But she chose not to get her flu shot. 

“My pediatrician told my mom and us growing up that unless we had lung issues, we don’t need to get it,” Branch said. “I’ve never actually had a flu shot. I’ve never had such bad experiences with the flu that I felt like I needed it.” 

Branch is one of many NYU students who have not received their flu shot and do not plan to. WSN asked 100 students whether they got their flu shot this year. Only 35% said that they have received one so far.

Flu hospitalizations are higher this year than they were at the same time last year, reaching the greatest number of hospitalizations in over a decade. This dramatic increase in hospitalizations has also been observed in young adults aged 18-29. So far this season, there have been an estimated 1.6 million cases, 13,000 hospitalizations and 730 deaths from the flu, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The CDC says that getting the vaccine is the best form of protection from the virus.

NYU’s Student Health Center, which offers free flu shots to all NYU students regardless of insurance, administered 4,261 flu shots last year. This season, only 3,351 shots have been administered so far. In a statement to WSN, a representative for the Student Health Center said that one reason for the lower number of administered flu shots this season is that many students last season received their flu shot alongside their university-mandated COVID-19 booster shot. 

Tisch first-year Marisa Caputo got the flu shot this year after the cold weather intensified her asthma. She said that she got the vaccine to protect herself and others. 

“I’ve never actually had the flu and honestly I don’t get bad seasonal colds either, but I just thought for the people around me too, it’s best to keep everyone safe,” Caputo said.  “Sometimes it’s not about what happens to you but herd immunity, so I thought about that as well.”

The Student Health Center does not offer flu shots to NYU faculty and employees, though NYU’s human resources department hosted clinics for these groups in October. The Health Center has also held pop-up clinics at on-campus locations such as Palladium Hall and the Stern School of Business. In its statement, it said that it is well-supplied for the flu season and prepared to provide a free flu shot to any NYU student who requests one.

“Getting an annual flu shot can help prevent you from getting the flu, stop you from spreading the flu to others, make your illness milder if you do get sick, and prevent complications like pneumonia,” the Student Health Center’s statement reads. “That’s why it’s important for everyone to get an annual flu shot. Get the shot, not the flu.”

Contact Amna Sheikh at [email protected]