Immunizations are for college kids, too

July 12, 2012

(Medical Xpress) -- Most parents take their young children regularly for immunization shots that protect against polio, diphtheria, measles, mumps and other diseases. But many do not consider that their college-age children also need immunizations.

“Children who are preparing for their freshman year in a dormitory are at increased risk for bacterial meningitis,” says Peter N. Wenger, M.D., associate professor in the Department of Preventive Medicine and Community Health, Department of Pediatrics, University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey–New Jersey Medical School. Each year this disease can suddenly affect up to 2,600 otherwise healthy people — with teenagers and young adults the high-risk category. Bacterial meningitis causes swelling of the brain and spinal cord and can lead to death or permanent injury. Although meningitis can be successfully treated with antibiotics, it is fatal in 10 to 14 percent of cases. In addition, nearly 20 percent of survivors end up with brain damage, amputation or kidney failure.

Meningitis is not as contagious as the flu or the common cold, but it does spread through the exchange of respiratory or throat secretions (e.g., coughing or kissing). Though scientists are not sure of the exact reason, they suspect that crowded living conditions and the sharing of utensils, drinking glasses and cigarettes are contributing factors. The Centers for Disease Control & Prevention recommends that all first-year college students receive the meningitis , which is safe, highly effective and provides three to five years of protection. Nine states, including New Jersey and Pennsylvania, require that all incoming students living on college campuses either have a vaccination or sign a waiver stating they choose not to be vaccinated for this disease.

Dr. Wenger recommends that college students also consider these vaccines:

• HPV (human papilloma virus), which protects against the viruses that cause most cervical cancers, anal cancer, and genital warts.
• Tdap (Tetanus, , and Pertussis), which is given as a one-time dose to adolescents and adults and protects against tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis (also known as whooping cough).
• Hepatitis A, which protects against this serious caused by a virus that attacks the liver.
• An annual immunization against influenza.
• Any vaccines not offered when the child was an infant, such as varicella against chicken pox, if the child had not already acquired wild-type chicken pox.

If your busy, college-bound children can’t squeeze in a doctor’s visit before setting off for school, make sure one of their first stops is the college’s office of student health.

Explore further: Study: More pre-teens get vaccines when middle schools require them

Related Stories

Study: More pre-teens get vaccines when middle schools require them

May 7, 2012
(HealthDay) -- Pre-teens living in states that require vaccinations for incoming middle school students are more likely to be immunized than those in states without such requirements, a new study finds.

Teen vaccinations against cervical cancer lagging

August 25, 2011
(AP) -- Only about half of the teenage girls in the U.S. have rolled up their sleeves for a controversial vaccine against cervical cancer - a rate well below those for two other vaccinations aimed at adolescents.

Back-to-school can mean vaccines for tweens, teens

August 22, 2011
(AP) -- Backpack. Notebooks. Whooping cough shot?

Vaccinations aren't just for kids, expert says

August 19, 2011
A new school year means more than new clothes, new books and a new grade level – it also means new shots for millions of public school children.

Panel: All adults should get whooping cough shots

February 22, 2012
A federal advisory panel wants all U.S. adults to get vaccinated against whooping cough.

Recommended for you

Americans misinformed about smoking

August 22, 2017
After voluminous research studies, numerous lawsuits and millions of deaths linked to cigarettes, it might seem likely that Americans now properly understand the risks of smoking.

Women who sexually abuse children are just as harmful to their victims as male abusers

August 21, 2017
"That she might seduce a helpless child into sexplay is unthinkable, and even if she did so, what harm can be done without a penis?"

To reduce postoperative pain, consider sleep—and caffeine

August 18, 2017
Sleep is essential for good mental and physical health, and chronic insufficient sleep increases the risk for several chronic health problems.

Despite benefits, half of parents against later school start times

August 18, 2017
Leading pediatrics and sleep associations agree: Teens shouldn't start school so early.

Doctors exploring how to prescribe income security

August 18, 2017
Physicians at St. Michael's Hospital are studying how full-time income support workers hired by health-care clinics can help vulnerable patients or those living in poverty improve their finances and their health.

Schoolchildren who use e-cigarettes are more likely to try tobacco

August 17, 2017
Vaping - or the use of e-cigarettes - is widely accepted as a safer option for people who are already smoking.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.