Public Health

Colleges Try To Curtail Flu Risk For Students

Dr. Tom Nary is the director of health services at Boston College. i i

Dr. Tom Nary is the director of health services at Boston College. Tovia Smith/NPR hide caption

itoggle caption Tovia Smith/NPR
Dr. Tom Nary is the director of health services at Boston College.

Dr. Tom Nary is the director of health services at Boston College.

Tovia Smith/NPR

As college students return to class from winter break this week, campuses around the nation are bracing for the possibility of a flu outbreak.

Colleges in Boston are especially worried after the mayor's declaration last week of a public health emergency in the city. The city's student population is large — around 150,000. And though 20-year-olds might not seem like as vulnerable as the elderly or babies, dorm life doesn't make it easy to avoid a highly transmissible disease.

College health officials say it can be a perfect storm for a flu outbreak, when you also consider that young people are among the least likely to worry about getting the flu, or getting the vaccine.

Dr. Tom Nary of Boston College says colleges learned a lot from the H1N1 outbreak a few years ago about what to do — things like moving sick students out of dorms and urging everyone to get the vaccine. This year, officials implored students not to leave home at the end of winter break without it.

For more on how institutions of higher learning and students in Boston are trying to keep the flu at bay, listen to the audio from today's All Things Considered.

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