The University of Iowa is one of the sites for a national study of the effectiveness of this year’s batch of flu vaccine. Dr. Gregory Gray, a University of Iowa professor who will be one of the investigators on the study, says the circulating strains of the flu this season are very different than the strains that are in the vaccine, and they’re concerned about the mismatch. College students are a good study group because they travel nationwide over the holiday break and then come back to a concentrated area on or near campus. But Dr. Gray says that’s not the primary reason Iowa students were selected. He says they were chosen for the study because the university’s Student Health Service has good information about the health status of Iowa co-eds. About 2,000 of the 29,000 students on campus got a flu shot from the clinic. The study is for any U-of-I student, though, not just those who got a flu shot. Participants must be at least 18 and have access to the Internet. Gray’s goal is to enlist just over 4,000 students for the 16-week study. For more information, check out www.hawkeyeflustudy.net. Gray says by studying a group of students who’ve had the flu vaccine and a group of students who didn’t, researchers will be able to compare how many in each group develop influenza. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is paying for the study.
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