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  • Writer's pictureOklahoma Alliance For Healthy Families

Returning to campus? Get a healthy start by vaccinating your college student

Vaccinations are not only important for children, but also for young adults. Living in close

quarters with other students in shared housing settings like dorms and apartments makes

getting vaccinated especially important. Most colleges require or recommend certain vaccines to

help prevent the spread of disease both on and off campus.

Meningitis B

Meningitis B is a serious disease that can attack the lining of the brain and spinal cord or cause

sepsis. Onset can be sudden; the disease may progress quickly and can result in death if left

untreated, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The illness is

airborne and often spreads through common areas. Symptoms can be flu-like and appear

differently for everyone. Some symptoms include severe headache, sudden high fever, stiff

neck, nausea and rapid breathing. The Meningitis B vaccine only became available in 2014, so

the disease is still prevalent. Vaccination against meningitis is the best defense against the

disease. Talk to your doctor to make an informed decision. Find out more information about

meningitis here.


Human Papillomavirus (HPV) is spread through intimate skin-to-skin contact and is considered

a sexually transmitted disease. The CDC estimates nearly 80 million Americans currently have

HPV. Some HPV infections can cause cervical cancer. Patients younger than 15 get two

vaccine doses to guard against HPV; patients older than 15 receive three doses. Talk to your

doctor to make an informed decision. Find out more information about HPV here.


The COVID-19 vaccine is also recommended for all college students, especially as more

campuses remove social distancing and mask requirements. The Pfizer vaccine is currently

approved for ages 12+. Talk to your doctor to make an informed decision. Find out more

information about COVID-19 here.


The flu can cause severe illness, hospitalization and even death. The CDC recommends getting

the annual flu shot as the best way to prevent getting sick. As a routine annual vaccine, it is

offered at doctors’ offices, pharmacies and public health facilities, including campus clinics. Find

more information about the flu here.


Tetanus is different from the other vaccines because it does not spread from person to person.

The bacteria found in soil, dust, manure and outside environments can enter the skin through

cuts, especially when a person gets cut with metal. Tetanus is uncommon in the U.S. but people

who mostly catch it have never had the vaccine or do not stay up-to-date with the vaccine.

Tetanus can also enter the body by puncture from a nail, needle or open wounds. Symptoms of

tetanus include jaw locking, muscle spasms, headaches, seizures, muscle stiffness and fever.

Adults should get a booster shot every 10 years; the Tdap vaccine also protects against

pertussis, better known as whooping cough. Find out more about tetanus here.

Each of these vaccinations will help prevent illness. Talk with your health care provider about

recommended vaccines to keep you and your community healthy. Always consult with your

health care provider about any concerns you have about getting vaccinated.


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