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 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
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.