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STUDENT WINS: SVSU Student's Flu Shots Research Earns Trip to Global Summit

March 18, 2017       Leave a Comment
By: Dave Rogers

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Jarrod Eaton -- Former Saginaw Valley State University Student Government President

Former Saginaw Valley State University student government president Jarrod Eaton wanted to know why only 10 percent of college students get flu shots, while the rate is about 33 percent among the rest of the population.

His research on this topic has earned him an invitation to present his findings at the 2nd World Congress on Public Health and Nutrition in Rome, Italy March 22-24, termed a "global summit.".

Eaton presently serves as community health liaison for Comfort Care Home Health & Hospice, Saginaw, and previously was a Registered Behavior Technician at Spectrum Autism Center, Freeland.

Public Health 2017 is a premier inter-multi-trans-disciplinary forum considering different ideas and opinions about Public Health, Public Health Careers, Public Health Services, Public Health Nutrition, Nutritional Epidemiology, Nutrition and Metabolism, Nutrition and Biological Systems, Nutrition and Infectious Diseases, Nutrition and Non-Communicable Diseases, Nutrition Deficiencies and Malnutrition, Nutrition and Systemic Disorders, Nutrition and Health Policies, Nutrition and Health Education, Nutrition and Care.

Eaton, a Health Science major from St. Johns, will present his study on the contributing factors surrounding influenza vaccination rate disparities among college-aged populations. His project is entitled "Vaccination of Influenza on College Campuses: A study to identify the correlation of determinants on influenza vaccination rate disparities."

While his research is still in progress, Eaton has drawn preliminary findings from his study to date and states:

"I have concluded that there are an increasing number of factors that are leading to college students receiving the influenza vaccination at significantly lower rates than other populations of society which, ultimately, can lead to greater risk of exposure and an increased likelihood of the spread of disease," he said.

The National Foundation for Infectious Diseases has the same concerns about flu shots as SVSU's Eaton, noting: "In the US, approximately five to 20 percent of individuals get the flu each year, more than 200,000 are hospitalized, and tens of thousands die from flu-related complications.

"On college campuses, influenza viruses are known to circulate rapidly, through constant exposure in close quarters like common living spaces, classrooms, shared restrooms, and through social activities. On average, college students who get the flu experience up to eight or more days of illness along with increased rates of health care use, school absenteeism, and impaired academic performance.

James Collins, Ph.D., SVSU executive-in-residence for Health Sciences, has served as the faculty mentor and advisor for Eaton's study. Collins said it is unusual for an undergraduate to be invited to present at such an international conference.

"Jarrod had to compete with people in the public health field with professional and advanced degrees," Collins explained. "He wrote a fine summary of his proposed research.

"While about a third of persons receive flu vaccines in the United States every year, only about 10 percent of college-age people do. Jarrod's research will provide insights and much-needed information on why students may or may not decide to obtain a flu vaccination.

"During my time at SVSU, I have been given an immense number of opportunities that have shaped both my professional and academic career," Eaton said. "It has instilled in me a duty to, one day, have the same degree of impact on the global community as well."

Eaton will graduate from SVSU in May and plans to pursue a career in public health. He intends to pursue a Master of Public Health degree with a specialization in epidemiology, and ultimately complete a Ph.D. in epidemiology. Eaton hopes to one day work for the World Health Organization or the Center for Disease Control and Prevention.

Eaton served as president of Student Association, SVSU's student government, for the 2015-16 academic year. He also was a student ambassador and resident assistant.

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Dave Rogers

Dave Rogers is a former editorial writer for the Bay City Times and a widely read,
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