For the second year in a row, Elon University requires students to get the flu shot. With two recent vaccine mandates for students at the university, some students want the flu vaccine to be voluntary and a personal choice.
For freshman Kinga Srednicka, the vaccine is another inconvenience for students.
“Initially, I was annoyed,” Srednicka said. “I’ve gotten the flu vaccine shot once in my life. I think it should be encouraged for students to get it but definitely not mandatory ... I think I’ll just take it to not be a hassle but I’m definitely pissed about it.”
According to Dean of Students Jana Lynn Patterson, the university community saw a dramatic drop in flu cases, from nearly 300 cases the previous year to only one confirmed case of the flu in the spring of 2021.
“I think it was a combination of things, but I think the number one reason is that flu vaccine,” Patterson said. “Just like the COVID vaccine, we know it reduces your risk.”
The vaccine requirement this year is earlier than last year due to students traveling back to campus following Thanksgiving break, unlike last year when students remained off campus through December.
“Last year, either everyone was in compliance, who was on campus, either everyone was in compliance, or they had a waiver,” Patterson said. “It had a profound effect in our success last year, and being able to manage the flu.”
While the vaccine is required for students, it is not required for faculty and staff. Patterson said this decision was made due to the living situations of students in congregate housing, versus faculty and staff, who do not live in residence halls.
Receiving the flu vaccine is new for junior Rachel Sommer, who has never received the flu vaccine because her parents didn’t think it was a good idea.
“I didn’t really have an opinion about it, but my parents did,” Sommer said. “My mom doesn't think the flu vaccine is a good idea for us and we never really got it in the past.”
But for freshman Aniya Arnold, the flu shot is just another task on her to-do list.
“I don’t necessarily have a problem with it,” Arnold said. “It was kind of just a part of my day to just go and do that but it was still positive. I think it’s a positive thing.”
Similar to Arnold, freshman Sebastian Schroeter believes the university is headed in the right direction with the vaccine mandate.
“I feel like they made the right choice by making it required just so that we can have a safer campus and we don’t have to have any close calls with stuff like that,” Schroeter said.
Students can register for a vaccine appointment on the Healthy Elon’s vaccination central website or receive it off campus by Oct. 29.