College Health 101: Check the Meningitis Booster Off Your List

8 Aug

Last month the CDC shared some good and bad news. While more U.S. teens are receiving their first dose of meningococcal vaccine than ever before (77.8%, up from 74% in 2012), only 29.6% also received the recommended booster.

The booster dose is recommended for all teens at age 16 because the protection they received from the first dose begins to wear off over time. It’s critical that kids receive the booster before they head off to college, where irregular sleep schedules, dorm life and crowded social events can challenge their immune system and put them at greater risk for meningitis.

I lost my son Evan to meningitis when he was a 20-year-old college junior. When Evan left for college, meningococcal vaccination was not routinely recommended or readily available. I had no idea that adolescents were at risk for meningitis or that it was potentially preventable. Now, every parent has a chance to help protect their child by making sure their teen is fully vaccinated before leaving for campus.

Every parent and college student should also become familiar with the symptoms of meningitis. While vaccination offers the best chance of protection, it is not 100 percent effective, and there are some strains of the infection that are not covered by currently available vaccines.

If you’re helping a teen or young adult prepare to leave for school, it can be easy to forget things. The National Meningitis Association created this checklist of important reminders to help both you and your teen. Please use and share this resource with the college-bound students in your life. And please don’t forget the pre-college meningitis booster!

Check List

 

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