Kent State Students Come Together to “Wreck the Flu”
This semester, the Honors Prevention and Control of Diseases class taught byChristopher Woolverton, Ph.D., was given a major project: to significantly increase student participation at the university’s annual flu clinic with a new awareness and marketing campaign.
The class partnered with Kent State’s University Health Services, the College of Nursing and the College of Public Health to host the clinic for Kent State students, faculty, staff and dependents on the second floor of University Library on Oct. 28.
In past years, University Health Services conducted the clinic with limited success in terms of student participation. An estimated 300 people on the Kent Campus received their flu shot last year. So Woolverton’s students had their work cut out for them.
They developed a campaign centered on the theme “Wreck the Flu.”
“Dr. Woolverton told us that our main project for the year was going to be planning the clinic in conjunction with University Health Services, but the way we decided to carry it out was all up to us,” says Emily Seibert, one of the honors public health students involved with organizing the clinic. “We developed the campaign and handled the advertising and marketing.”
The class increased advertising on campus and offered opportunities to win raffle baskets with items from Kent local businesses. Many Kent State professors supported the flu clinic by offering extra credit to students with proof of the flu vaccination.
Nearly 500 vaccinations were given at the event, says Julie Volcheck, associate director of University Health Services.
The flu shots were administered by Kent State’s nursing students, under the supervision of nurses from University Health Services.
“I was extremely impressed with the increase in the number of students, as well as faculty and staff, who took advantage of our clinic,” Woolverton says. “I think it’s a credit to the marketing campaign that the honors students developed.”
Woolverton also praised the way his students reached out to the university community.
“They were able to reach beyond the usual email announcement or posting fliers,” Woolverton says. “The personal touch they provided really affected the number of attendees to the clinic.”
Shelby Tozzi, a senior nursing student who also works at University Hospitals, was very busy vaccinating students, faculty and staff at the six-hour clinic.
“I was really pleased with the turnout,” she says. “It was so convenient to have it at the library, and people are surprised at how quick and painless it is.”
Woolverton’s students decided on their own to add an extra dimension to the project. They surveyed participants and will study the results to determine the impact of each part of the campaign. They also conducted a survey about past clinics.
“We plan on writing a paper and hope to get it published in a scientific journal,” Seibert says.
“I think it’s really cool for Kent State students to come together to fight the flu,” says Becky Barnes, another one of Woolverton’s students. “Everyone here cares about their health and the health of all of the students, so it was a really good thing to be able to raise awareness of the importance of getting vaccinated.”
Woolverton says that many people seriously underestimate the impact of the flu.
“The statistics are very sound now that anywhere between 30,000 and 40,000 people in the United States will die per year because of the influenza virus,” Woolverton says.
But he’s optimistic about the results of his students’ efforts this year.
“I’m very excited that this may have now started a newer tradition for flu clinics,” Woolverton says.
Students, faculty and staff can still get flu shots at the DeWeese Health Center. Same day appointments are usually available, and can be scheduled online or by calling 330-672-2322. Visit University Health Services’ website at www.kent.edu/uhs.