Students Arm Themselves Against Harmful Diseases
April 5, 2018
Soon-to-be college students have an abundance of planning ahead of them, including purchasing items to furnish their dorms or apartments, packing away their life into a few boxes, and, most importantly, vaccinations. Students living in close proximity dorm spaces with one, or more, students have a higher risk of contracting some types of illness.
The University of Texas at Arlington’s nursing supervisor, Julia Woodard-Parker, advises students of all backgrounds to get properly vaccinated each year in order to prevent the spread of diseases within the campus.
“It is important for young adults to get vaccines that protect against diseases like the flu and whooping cough,” Woodard-Parker said. “Germs travel quickly through a community and can make a lot of people sick. Even people who can’t get vaccinated should have some protection from getting sick.”
The most common vaccination required by all Texas institutions, meningitis, needs to have been administered once before the age of sixteen and once again by the age of 23. Colleges often do not allow students to enroll in classes until the Meningitis shot has been administered and documented. Other vaccinations not stated by the state of Texas prove just as important as the meningitis vaccination, such as the Measles, Mumps and Rubella shot, Varicella (Chickenpox), and Hepatitis (A and B), as they also have the potential to put others at risk. Legacy’s nurse, Ms. Elisa Watkins, tries her best to distribute information for seniors attending college the following fall to help them become better prepared.
“Tetanus is one that after the age of 16 you can opt to get it every 10 years,” Ms. Watkins said. “It’s a good booster shot to have, just in case any metal object pierces your skin so that you avoid any kind of tetanus. The other two that it covers for are diphtheria and whooping cough. Whooping cough is really dangerous, especially if you’re around little kids, if you babysit, because it is deadly to infants.”
All 50 states have legislation which requires students to have specific vaccines before entering post-secondary education. Although exemptions vary from state to state, all school immunization laws grant exemptions to children for medical reasons, and majority grant religious exemptions. Philosophical exemptions currently exist in 17 states which object to the personal or moral beliefs of a person. Regardless of beliefs on vaccines, Ms. Elisa Watkins urges parents and students to consider the minor viruses that spread easier and encourages them to take action before a virus strengthens.
“Flu shot is recommended every single year, HPV is another one that is definitely on the rise with college-age students, it’s always a good vaccination to get just in case you choose to be sexually active or not,” Ms. Watkins said. “It’s not going to do any harm if you’re not sexually active, so it’s always good to be protected. Another one that’s good to get, that’s optional, is Hepatitis A. That’s a two-shot series and that one’s just good to have, and if you ever go into the medical profession, then they’re going to require you to have Hepatitis A just in case you’re exposed to it.”
For college students, keeping healthy throughout the year varies. Living off of ramen and two-minute noodles might be the way to keep the hunger pang away, but following through with general procedures to keep diseases limited keeps fellow students at the healthiest they can be.
“Just protect yourself, of course,” Ms. Watkins said. “Cover your cough, and try not to cough or sneeze into your hands, use a tissue or your elbow, or your shirt to decrease the expulsion of any kind of bacteria. Get as much rest as you can, and wash your hands all the time, every time you’re out and about. Before and after you eat, wash your hands. Make sure you’re getting a good, balanced diet.”