Updated
September 30th, 2016

Are Vaccines and SAT Scores Required for College?

Vaccination proof is required for most college students

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With so many details to think about in the final days before college starts, vaccines may fall of the to-do list.

As parents, we believe young adults are well prepared – both physically and emotionally – for all the challenges they are about to confront. But without a proof of vaccination, many students can't move into their dorm.


Once students move into their dorm, you will no longer be there to refill their Rx, or make doctor appointments. Before your child heads off to college, here are a few things you can do to help the transition.


Get all the recommended vaccines, not just those required by the school. While there are several required and recommended immunizations for college-age students, each state and college may have different admission requirements.



Parents should consider the following vaccines for students before they arrive on campus:

Tetanus-diphtheria-pertussis (Tdap):

  • Pertussis, also known as whooping cough, is a highly contagious airborne disease often referred to as the 100 day cough. It is still common in the United States and often spreads to teens when their infant vaccine (called DTaP) has worn off. Often those infected think they are suffering with a bad cold, and don’t seek medical attention. Meanwhile, they are spreading the highly infectious disease to others, resulting in a growing number of outbreaks across the country.

  • Even if you contract pertussis, you are not protected from getting it again. Temporary immunity from either natural infection or vaccination, can wane rather quickly. It is recommended that adolescents get a dose of Tdap vaccine at 11 or 12 years of age. Check to make sure your child has had their Tdap vaccine prior to heading to college.


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Influenza (Flu):

  • Flu seasons are very unpredictable, but they typically occur between October and May with peaks between December and March, when many students are cramming for exams and traveling over breaks. Since flu can spread easily in close living quarters such as dorms, it’s important for students to protect themselves.

  • While most people who get flu will recover, some will suffer with serious complications like pneumonia. Those students with chronic health problems like diabetes or asthma are at an even greater risk for complications from flu. Even healthy teens can get very sick and die from flu.

  • By getting vaccinated as soon as the seasonal vaccine becomes available, students can spare themselves an illness that can result in hospitalization or death, as well as missed class and poor grades.


Human papillomavirus (HPV):

  • HPV is so common that nearly all sexually active men and women will be infected with the virus at some point in their lives. It’s best if your son or daughter receives this 3-dose vaccination series at age 11-12 because at that age they are less likely to have already been exposed to the virus and their immune system is most receptive to the vaccine.

  • However, if your child hasn’t already received the full series of HPV vaccine, they can still get caught up. Women can get the vaccine through age 26 and men through age 21.

  • The good news is that vaccination against the nine most prevalent HPV strains that are included in this vaccine can significantly reduce the risk of your child suffering with certain types of HPV-related cancers. For instance, virtually all cases of cervical cancer are caused by HPV.


Meningococcal:

  • The scariest thing about meningococcal disease is that it strikes incredibly fast. The symptoms often include a very bad headache and can even mimic the flu. Nearly 500 people get meningococcal disease each year in the U.S. and 1 in 10 of these people die, many within 24-48 hours. Of those who survive, about 1 to 2 patients out of every 10 will have permanent disabilities such as brain damage, hearing loss, nervous system problems or limb amputations.

  • Many states and colleges require students living in dorms to be vaccinated against meningococcal disease with a vaccine known as MenACWY. The first dose is typically administered between ages 11-12, with a booster dose recommended beginning at age 16. While this vaccine protects against serogroups A, C, W and Y, it doesn’t completely eliminate the risk of contracting meningitis.


There is another strain of meningococcal disease known as the serogroup B strain that has been identified on college campuses across the country.


The college transition process is difficult for both parents and students.


By taking proactive health measures, parents and students can feel more prepared for the unexpected.