Books, furniture, student ID…vaccines? If you’re heading to college for the first time, immunizations should be at the top of your to-do list. College students live in close quarters, and young adults are also due for boosters on many vaccines they received during childhood. Make sure you’re up to date on the CDC’s entire recommended schedule by talking with a healthcare professional. Start by asking about these five:
This vaccine protects against bacterial meningitis, which inflames the protective membrane around the brain and spinal chord and can have life threatening consequences. The disease can be spread when people are in close quarters, so if it’s your first year on a college campus, definitely make sure you’ve received this vaccine. If you already received it as a child, you’re not off the hook; you should get a booster if you got the shot before your 16th birthday.
This vaccine protects against, tetanus, diptheria, and pertussis (whooping cough), and the CDC recommends it for kids, adults, and pregnant women during the third trimester. One dose of Tdap is routinely given at age 11 or 12. If you didn’t get Tdap then, you should get it as soon as possible. A Td vaccine protects against tetanus and diptheria, and a booster is recommended for every 10 years. Students that took time off between high school and college may be due for their next dose.
If you did not get all three doses of this immunization at 11 or 12, when the CDC recommends it, you should be sure to get it before starting college. The vaccine protects against cervical cancer in women and cancer of the throat, anus, and penis in men, but only 34.4 percent of adolescent girls and 20.1 percent of adolescent boys have received all three doses. Though it’s most effective when administered as a preteen, women under 27 and men under 22 should still receive the vaccine. If you’re outside that age range, you should discuss your options with a healthcare professional.
The CDC recommends an annual flu shot for everyone. College students are especially vulnerable to the illness; you’ll be living in close quarters, sharing bathrooms and workout facilities, and likely not getting enough sleep. But there’s good news: The flu vaccine works best among healthy young adults. If you stay up to date you’ll keep that missed class and social time to a minimum.
Hepatitis B can result in long-term consequences for your liver. It’s a blood-borne illness, so it can be transmitted through contact with an infected person’s blood, semen, or other bodily fluids. Again, the close quarters rule applies; there’s simply a greater chance of this happening on a college campus, so prevention is key. Most babies receive the Hep B vaccine before leaving the hospital, but if you did not receive it as a baby, you will want to discuss with your doctor.
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