Don’t forget — big kids need shots too!

When you pack up your teen for college, it’s easy to get consumed with buying all the trappings they’ll need:  extra-long sheets, comforters, bulletin boards, desk lamps, etc.

But don’t forget about things they need to keep them healthy in their new crazy-busy lives as college students. Are your college-age children up to date on their immunizations? Do they need additional vaccinations? The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends four vaccines for young adults:

  • Meningococcal vaccine – Young people living in dormitories are at higher risk for meningitis and other meningococcal diseases, which are almost always serious and sometimes fatal.
  • Tdap vaccine – This vaccine protects against tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis. College-age children who haven’t had a tetanus shot in the past two years should get a Tdap vaccine. And with pertussis making a comeback on some college campuses, Tdap vaccination is especially important now.
  • Human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine – The HPV vaccine protects against the viruses that cause cervical cancer, anal cancer and genital warts. The vaccine is now recommended for males and females. A complete series consists of three doses.
  • Seasonal influenza vaccine – The CDC recommends yearly seasonal influenza vaccinations for college students, and the sooner the better. Shots given in September and October should protect your child throughout the flu season.

These specific vaccines are recommended in addition to the following ones, which children should already have had by the time they leave high school:

  • Two doses of chickenpox vaccine (if they haven’t had the disease)
  • Two doses of MMR (measles, mumps, rubella) vaccine
  • Three doses of hepatitis B vaccine
  • Two doses of hepatitis A vaccine

It’s a good idea for parents and their college-age children to take the time to be sure all vaccinations are up to date. Adjusting to college life is a major lifestyle change on its own without throwing in downtime for being sick. For more information, go to: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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