What Vaccines Are Required for College Students? - Crozer-Keystone Health System - PA

Published on August 12, 2015

Back-to-School Checklist: Immunizations for College Students

Even if your college student received vaccines early in their childhood, there are certain immunizations and boosters young adults ages 19 through 24 need.

Close, communal living situations,
less-than-sanitary conditions and
irregular sleep schedules make students
vulnerable to illnesses.

In the midst of getting your college student’s college necessities – from dorm furnishings, text books to late-night snacks – there’s one more thing you should put on your back-to-school check list: immunizations.

When teens head off to college, they’re not only walking into a new phase of life, full of educational and social opportunities, but also a new world of risks. Close, communal living situations, less-than-sanitary conditions and irregular sleep schedules make students vulnerable to illnesses. But immunizations may prevent some of these, keeping students healthy.

Even if your college student received vaccines early in their childhood or adolescence, there are certain immunizations and boosters college students and young adults ages 19 through 24 need.

Meningococcal Vaccine

The meningococcal conjugate vaccine (MenACWY) protects against bacterial meningitis and actually may be required by certain colleges and universities.

Since first-year college students typically live in close-quarters with other students, they are more likely to contract bacterial meningitis. Though outbreaks are rare, they can sometimes strike in residence halls. Bacterial meningitis is a fast-moving and life-threatening illness, which is why so many colleges require students to receive the vaccine. If they received the vaccine prior to their 16th birthday, they should get a booster dose before leaving for school to ensure they’re protected.

Tdap Vaccine

This shot protects against tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis, a.k.a. whooping cough. This vaccine is recommended at age 11 – 12 years old, but young adults 19 or older who didn’t receive it as a preteen or teen should plan on getting a single dose of it. These three diseases are all caused by bacteria. Both diphtheria and pertussis are spread from person to person. Tetanus enters the body through cuts, scratches, or wounds.

You can be given a Tdap vaccination regardless on when you last received a Td (tetanus and diphtheria) vaccine.

HPV Vaccine

Human papillomavirus is the most common sexually transmitted virus in the U.S. Although most HPV infections don’t cause any symptoms and go away on their own, some types of HPV can cause cervical cancer in women.

The HPV vaccine is important because it protects against four major types of HPV, including two types that cause about 70 percent of cervical cancer and two types that cause about 90 percent of genital warts. Receiving the HPV vaccine can prevent most genital warts and most cases of cervical cancer. Women under the age of 26 and men under the age of 22 should be vaccinated. This vaccine consists of three doses, so even if it has been many years since the first or second dose of the vaccine was administered, you should finish the vaccine series.

Flu Shot

The seasonal flu vaccine isn’t required by universities, but it’s another preventative measure that can ensure your college student stays healthy and doesn’t miss any classes. The flu shot protects against three or four of the flu viruses that research indicates are likely to be common during the upcoming season. Even if you’re a healthy young adult, the flu can cause severe illness that may require hospital care. The flu vaccine can reduce the risk of contracting the illness, shorten and lessen the effects of the flu, and eliminate emergency doctor’s visits, hospitalization, and missed school.

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