Going to college? Get your shots

When high school students receive their acceptances to college, they should also receive something else: a vaccination.

The potentially life-threatening bacteria called Neisseria meningitis commonly infects military personnel living in barracks and college students living in dormitories. Health officials recommend that college-bound students receive the vaccine, a proven way to reduce the risk of infection. 

“Over the past 12 months, many (Department of Defense) children in Europe have been vaccinated against meningococcal infections,” said Dr. (Lt. Col.) William P. Corr, the Europe Regional Medical Command’s consultant for preventive medicine at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center. “But, for those teenagers that haven’t been vaccinated and are going to college, the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices recommends one shot of a vaccine that protects against four types of meningitis-causing bacteria.”

The vaccine is long lasting, and the current guidance is to receive the vaccine only once in a lifetime. Dr. Corr recommends the meningococcal vaccine for several other groups of people:

• Adolescents entering middle school (11 to 12 years old) or high school (15 years old)
• A child without a spleen
• Children and adults who lack “complement proteins,” a particular group of serum proteins that  help the body fight infection
• People exposed to someone infected with meningitis types A, C, Y, or W-135
• Children and adults traveling to sub-Saharan Africa between December and June

Contact your local medical treatment facility for more information about receiving the meningococcal vaccine.

(Courtesy of Europe Regional Medical Command Public Affairs)