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College Vaccination Requirements

by Gale Thompson

Immunizations, however unpleasant, are necessary to fight off diseases such as measles, rubella and meningitis. In the United States, immunizations start in childhood and continue through college, where population and communal living make vaccinations necessary. Full-time students will need a proof of immunizations before admission. If students want exemption from immunization mandates for medical or religious reasons, a waiver must be obtained. Each state has different vaccination requirements, but colleges generally establish their own immunization rules.

Childhood Vaccinations

A student has probably already completed the diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis (DTP) vaccine in his or her childhood. However, a booster is recommended for young adults before college, so the TDAP -- tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis -- vaccine is now being offered to prospective students. Adults must also get a tetanus shot every 10 years, so the health services will check and make sure the student is up to date. The MMR -- measles, mumps and rubella -- vaccine must be up to date as well, so if the student did not receive immunity as a child, he or she must often get another shot before registration. The polio vaccine is also generally given to children before entering primary school.

Meningitis

The bacterial meningitis, or meningococcal, vaccine is one of the most important immunizations a college student will receive. Meningitis comes in viral form as well as the bacterial form, which is the most dangerous and can be fatal. Although the vaccine only covers certain strains of bacterial meningitis, this shot will be crucial for any college student living on campus in close quarters. The experts at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention state that college freshmen who live on campus in the dorms suffer more often from meningitis than those who live off campus. Some schools require this vaccine, but almost all schools highly recommend it.

Hepatitis B

Many colleges require that students receive three-dose vaccination from hepatitis B, an infection that may be transmitted through blood and other bodily fluids. Those who suffer from hepatitis B may have significant liver damage. The New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services recommends that students planning on entering a medical care or health care field should be immunized.

HPV

Certain strains of the human papillomavirus cause cancer or genital warts. The three-dose HPV vaccine will protect students from the types of HPV that cause most of the health problems. Although the vaccine is not required, many universities highly recommend this vaccine, as the CDC states that any female between the ages of 13 and 26 should get the HPV vaccine if they haven't received the full three doses when they were younger.

Influenza

The influenza vaccine, although not required by colleges and universities, is highly recommended due to the population size and close living quarters. The shot protects students against the seasonal flu, which can be quite harmful and may make students ill enough to miss school for more than a week. States also often mandate that those planning on entering long-term care or childcare facilities receive the influenza shot. The New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services states that the best time to get the flu shot is during October and November, although flu shots are still given through the end of flu season, which usually lasts until April.

About the Author

Gale Marie Thompson's work has been published in "Denver Quarterly," "Los Angeles Review" and "Best New Poets 2012." Thompson holds a BA in English and creative writing from the College of Charleston, a MFA from the University of Massachusetts Amherst, and is working on a PhD at the University of Georgia.

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