Summer is flying by and colleges will soon be in session. While college presents a new world of opportunity it also presents a new world of risks. Many students live in communal living spaces, less-than-sanitary conditions and acquire irregular sleeping habits; all of which can leave students vulnerable to disease. Below we’ve gathered some of the top questions and answers about vaccination recommendations for students heading off to college this fall. If you have additional questions send us a tweet @ShepardMedical !
What are the top vaccines that college students need?
Almost every college requires or strongly recommends students be vaccinated for meningitis, especially if they plan to live in the dorms. Close quarters make it easier for bacteria to spread.
Meningococcal conjugate vaccine (MenACWY): Helps protect against bacterial meningitis and may be required for certain college students (requirements vary by state). First-year college students living in residence halls are recommended to be vaccinated with meningococcal conjugate vaccine.
If they received this vaccine before their 16th birthday, they should get a booster dose before going to college for maximum protection. The risk for meningococcal disease among non-first-year college students is similar to that for the general population. However, MenACWY is safe and effective and therefore can be provided to non-first-year college students.
Seasonal flu vaccine: Protects against the three or four flu viruses that research indicates will be most common during the upcoming season. The flu can cause severe illness that may require hospital care, even in healthy adults. In general, the flu vaccine works best among young healthy adults and older children. Flu vaccination can reduce flu illnesses, doctors’ visits and missed work and school due to flu, as well as prevent flu-related hospitalizations and deaths.
Tdap vaccine: Protects against tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis, or whooping cough. A single dose of Tdap is routinely recommended for preteens and teens (preferably at age 11-12 years); however, adults 19 or older who did not receive Tdap as a preteen or teen should receive a single dose of Tdap.
Tdap is especially important for pregnant women and those in close contact with infants. Tdap can be given no matter when Td (tetanus and diphtheria vaccine) was last received.
Will my college’s student health center provide vaccinations?
Some colleges do provide vaccinations for students but it varies greatly among schools. Students should check into whether it is provided and whether the cost is covered with their college’s health center.
What do I need to watch out for in the hours or days after vaccination?
The vaccines mentioned are remarkably safe. As always contact your doctor if experiencing unusual sickness.
I have no idea what shots I got when I was younger. What do I need to do — call my pediatrician?
Most colleges send you a health form to fill out before you go. That’s your opportunity to visit your pediatrician and talk about your immunization record. Each patient will have a different situation, and their medical records can bring them up to date.
For more information on the above vaccinations visit the CDC website directly at http://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/
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