Vaccinations on campus: What college students need to know

Everywhere you look you can hear someone debating the issue of vaccinations. The latest discussion surrounds the measles outbreak that started at the California Disneyland in December of last year.

There are many things you should know about vaccinations. (Credit: QuickMeme)

There are many things you should know about vaccinations. (Credit: QuickMeme)

Besides the MMR (measles, mumps and rubella) vaccine, there are a number of other vaccinations that, if administered appropriately, could keep you and your roommates safe and healthy. Here’s what college students need to know about vaccinations on campus.

Please note, I am not a doctor nor do I pretend to be, but I will give you information for both sides of the issue and you can ask your doctor or someone at your campus health center for more information so you can make an informed decision.

But, are the vaccinations necessary?

The answer to this question depends on whom you ask. If you believe that the best offense is a better defense, then you likely will agree with the pro-vaccination side of the issue. According to the website, these vaccines are highly recommended for college students aged 19-24:

  • Meningococcal conjugate: protects against bacterial meningitis
  • Tdap: protects against tetanus, diphtheria and whooping cough
  • HPV: protects against the virus that causes most cases of cervical and anal cancers, as well as genital warts
  • Seasonal flu 

The website, which “provides resources from federal agencies for the general public and their communities about vaccines across the lifespan,” also wants to remind college students that if you’re planning on studying abroad or going out of the country for spring break, check the site’s travel tab for information related directly to the countries you’ll be traveling to.

Of course, just because particular vaccines are recommended doesn’t mean that they’re required. But, you should look into the statistics of why these vaccines are recommended.

Tara Haelle, Forbes contributing writer, explores the measles vaccination issue in her February 2, 2015, post, “Vaccine Researcher Gregory Poland Says Measles Jab Is Amazingly Effective But Not Perfect.” Poland says, in response to Haelle’s question of whether the measles are likely to return to the U.S. for good: “Every time you add another sub population of people who are not protected, you grow the pool of the susceptibles, and if you have a large enough pool spread across enough areas, you can reestablish measles.”

Seeking out the information for yourself and learning the benefits of vaccinations can help eliminate fear, and as Poland says, “…THE most contagious disease is fear.”

If you’re leaning more toward the anti-vaccine movement, you may agree that it’s a parent’s or adult’s right to refuse a vaccination for either themselves or their children. Once you’re old enough to make that decision on your own you’ll want to look at your own situation and decide what’s best for you. There are a lot of personal blogs out there where people post their own reasons for not getting vaccinated, so you shouldn’t read them with the idea that they have all the facts. A February 3, 2015, Huffington Post article “Anti-Vaccination Advocates Often Don’t Trust The Government, Study Finds” by Carolyn Gregoire discusses possible reasons for the recent anti-vax movement. “According to recent Ohio State University research,” Gregoire says, “those with less faith in the country’s authority figures are correspondingly less likely to vaccinate.” On the flip side, it’s the confidence in the government to control crises like the swine flu that lead people to get vaccinations.

Vaccinations on your college campus

Some colleges require specific vaccinations for their students, especially those who will be living in campus housing. Twenty-two states, include California, don’t require college students to be vaccinated against the measles. However, this could be changing as the recent outbreak spreads further across the U.S. Recent counts say 100 people have been linked to the Disneyland infection. Measles is a contagious airborne disease that is spread through talking, coughing and sneezing; germs can remain in the air for two hours. Living in close quarters such as a dorm is why the disease would have the opportunity to spread so quickly on college campuses.

Eastern Michigan University has a list of suggested vaccinations on its University Health Services page. You can search your specific college or university page for the same information.

There are many cases where people with comprised immune systems cannot get vaccinations, and it should be noted that these individual cases should be handled differently.

If you don’t have insurance or you don’t think you’ll have the extra funds to cover the cost, you could always check to see if your health center has a payment plan.

What is your opinion on the topic of vaccinations?

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