Friends might help you avoid flu

Friends might help you avoid flu

Friends might help you avoid flu

A study of social networks has shown promising results on how to increase flu vaccination rates.

Researchers from Lancaster University found that people with a lot of friends “should be prioritised for the ‘flu jab because they might influence others to get vaccinated too.” Friends might help you avoid flu.

Influenza, or the flu, has become a global epidemic, affecting 3 to 5 million people a year. It has even been known to cause death in some cases.

This study was conducted to find out how to improve vaccination campaigns for healthcare workers who are at risk for spreading infections to patients.

The governments goal is to get 75% of healthcare workers vaccinated, but only about half get the flu shot.

PhD student Rhiannon Edge, Dr. Thomas Keegan and Dr. Rachel Isba examined the vaccination rates of medical students.

They also asked students to rate the strength of relationships amongst their friends at Lancaster.

It has been shown that individuals who are connected within a social network may influence each other’s behaviour, even when not connected directly. If an individual’s vaccination decision is affected by their immediate social circle, clusters of unvaccinated individuals can develop – and these clusters may then facilitate outbreaks of infection,” the authors wrote.

The research team ran a computer simulation to determine what effect the influence of people with a lot of friends would have on a flu outbreak. They found that your friends might help you avoid flu.

Once we had located influential individuals using network analysis tools, we tested whether or not vaccinating these individuals would have different effects on the influenza outbreaks within the network,” the authors wrote.

It is clear that some individuals have a disproportional effect on disease dynamics. This study suggests that vaccination strategies that target highly connected individuals within a network might limit the spread of infectious disease,” they added.

This study showing that friends might help you avoid flu was published in The Lancet.

Note: None of the information in our website is intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any illness or disease. The content on our website is for educational purposes only.

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REFERENCES:
1. “How Your Friends Might Help You Avoid Flu.” Lancaster University. Lancaster University, 20 Jan. 2015. Web. 26 Jan. 2015.
2. “Seasonal Influenza in Medical Students: An Outbreak Simulation Model Based on a Social Network Approach.” The Lancet. The Lancet, 19 Nov. 2014. Web. 26 Jan. 2015.

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