Important vaccines every college student should consider

AP file photo

The countdown is on for local college students. Washington State University’s fall term starts Monday, August 22nd.

While the kids are packing up and getting ready to move out be sure to remind them to keep their vaccinations up to date.

One of the most dangerous, yet preventable diseases affecting teens and young adults in particular is bacterial meningitis. It’s a serious infection of the brain and nervous system that tends to be communicated between people living in close quarters such as college dorms.

Symptoms of bacterial meningitis can arise quickly and become serious quickly. It can cause neurological problems, loss of hearing, amputations and even death in rare cases. It is most common in people between the ages of 16 and 21 and also in very small children.

Bacterial meningitis can be spread through intimate contact, but also something as simple as sharing a water bottle. The meningitis vaccine is given in two doses and protects against four strains of the disease.

Another vaccine protects teens and young adults against human papillomavirus or HPV. It can cause certain types of cancer in both women and men.

HPV is more common that most parents think according to Dr. Thomas Phelps of the Cleveland Clinic.

“Some studies say 75% of people have had HPV at some time in their lives. If anyone is going to be sexually active in college they’re likely to be exposed to HPV,” said Phelps.

For women the biggest concern from HPV is cervical cancer, but the CDC recommends the vaccine for boys as well.

Every year over 9,000 males are affected by cancers caused by HPV infections that don’t go away. HPV can cause cancers of the anus, mouth/throat and penis in males.

The HPV vaccine is recommended for females beginning at age 11 and up to age 26. For males it’s usually between 11 and 12 through age 21.

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