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Why Should My College Student Get the Meningococcal Vaccine?

Author: CHKD Medical Group, Dr. Vernita Peeples
Published Date: Monday, August 03, 2020

By Dr. Vernita Peeples, Pediatric Partners of Hampton Roads

Before college students roll into campus this fall, they may need to visit their doctor and roll up a sleeve. Many colleges and universities require specific vaccinations for incoming freshmen and new students.

The necessary vaccinations can vary depending on the school students will attend and the state where they’ll live. Students pursuing nursing and medical degrees often need additional vaccines. The best way to determine which vaccinations are required or recommended is to consult with a school’s medical services or student health department. Most information is available online through each school’s website.

Two of the most commonly required vaccines for college students protect against meningococcal disease – a serious illness caused by a type of bacteria. Although anyone can get meningococcal disease, teens and young adults ages 16 to 23 face a greater risk. College students are especially at risk because many share living quarters or live in dormitory settings.

Meningococcal disease is uncommon, but it can be deadly. Some people who become infected have lifelong health problems such as deafness, loss of limbs, or brain damage.

There are two types of meningococcal vaccines in the United States: MenACWY and MenB.

  • Many children receive MenACWY when they are 11 or 12. A booster dose is usually recommended when they’re 16. Many colleges will require proof that a student has received a MenACWY vaccine in the last five years.
  • The MenB vaccine, which protects against serogroup B strains, is also required for most college students because they have a slightly higher risk and some colleges have reported outbreaks. The preferred age to receive MenB is from 16 to 18.

Other vaccines college students may need include the following:

  • Measles
  • Mumps
  • Rubella
  • Tetanus/diphtheria
  • Hepatitis B
  • Polio

Many students will already meet the vaccine requirements. That’s because public schools require students to receive certain vaccinations before they enter kindergarten and also prior to sixth grade.

Students can obtain a copy of their immunization records from the medical offices where they received their vaccinations. If the records are not available, a blood sample can be tested to determine immunity.

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About CHKD Medical Group

About CHKD Medical  Group Children’s Hospital of The King’s Daughters has been the region’s most trusted name in pediatric care for more than 50 years. As members of CHKD Health System, our pediatricians work closely with CHKD’s full range of pediatric specialists and surgeons. They also share a commitment to quality, excellence and child-centered care. With 18 practices in 29 locations throughout the region, a CHKD pediatrician is never far.