I applaud the commentary by Gene Ransom III encouraging expanded use of the meningitis B vaccine for Maryland’s college students (“Colleges should require meningitis B vaccine.” Sept.3).
It is timely, as winter approaches, to think about another potentially preventable disease, namely, influenza. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that influenza has resulted in between 9.3 million to 49 million illnesses, 140,000 to 960,000 hospitalizations and 12,000 to 79,000 deaths annually in the United States since 2010.
College students, because of close living conditions and high levels of social contact, are especially vulnerable to high influenza attack rates. However, vaccination rates among college students vary from only 8% to 30%. While the vaccine does not offer complete control, it can reduce the risk of infection by 40% to 60%. Maryland colleges and universities should promote influenza vaccination as a high health-promoting priority.
Dr. Beryl Rosenstein
The writer is a physician at Johns Hopkins Hospital.
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