It's finally here. From the time your child was an infant, you knew this day was coming. He or she is entering college! If your young adult is moving away, there's shopping, packing, traveling arrangements, paperwork, dorms and good-byes filling up the precious last living-at-home days.
New opportunities for educational, personal and professional growth are just on the other side of those academic doors. But, there's one more thing that you need to make sure is taken care- even if your child is remaining home and going to a community or local college.
Vaccinations need to be updated. Many colleges will not allow a student to attend classes, or live in a dorm, if their vaccinations are not updated, and immunization records filed with the school.
Colleges want to know that their students have been vaccinated against the basics - Diphtheria, tetanus, measles, mumps and rubella. But increasingly, they want to know that their students have been inoculated against bacterial meningitis.
Dorm rooms, fraternities and sororities are breeding grounds for contagious diseases. Unhealthy lifestyles can also lower a person's immune system. Lack of sleep, unsanitary conditions, bad nutrition, drinking and exposure to cigarette smoke and drugs can put a child at risk for a host of medical problems.
Bringing these topics up is not to say that all college bound students will partake in unhealthy lifestyles, it's simply a reminder that large populations in close quarters can put you at a higher risk for disease. That's why colleges are becoming more adamant about student vaccinations.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends college students, especially those living in dormitories, receive these vaccinations:
- Meningococcal conjugate vaccine, which helps prevent meningococcal disease. If they received this vaccine before their 16th birthday, they should get a booster dose before going to college for maximum protection.
- Tdap vaccine, which protects against tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis (also known as whooping cough.)
- HPV vaccine, which protects against the viruses that cause most cervical cancers, anal cancer, and genital warts.
- Seasonal flu vaccine.
- Another vaccination to consider is the Hepatitis A vaccine, which protects against this serious disease caused by a virus that attacks the liver.
Be sure and check with your college to see what vaccinations are required, and ask your family doctor or pediatrician about their recommendations.
Entering college is one of those milestones in life. It's exciting and humbling for kids and parents. Make sure your child has the vaccinations he or she needs as they enter this new world of opportunity!