The time of year has come when many students across the country are finalizing plans for after graduation. This can be an exhilarating time in these young adults' lives - looking ahead to the future and a world of possibilities. In the whirlwind that follows high school graduation - parties, summer jobs, internships, vacations, moving prep - these young adults and their parents often forget about key healthcare priorities to address before Fall Semester begins.
As textbooks are critical to student success in the classroom; vaccines are critical to student health outside of the classroom. Particularly meningococcal vaccine(s) are of utmost importance, as most meningococcal outbreaks occur at colleges and universities across the country. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC, 2019) recommends teens sixteen (16) to eighteen (18) years old are up-to-date with the following vaccinations: influenza (yearly), Tdap (tetanus, diphtheria, pertussis), HPV (human papillomavirus), meningococcal (ACWY and B serogroups), pneumococcal, Hepatitis B, Hepatitis A, Polio, MMR (measles, mumps, rubella), and varicella (chickenpox). These vaccines serve as an incredibly vital first-line defense for the prevention of disease. Some colleges/universities require their student population to be vaccinated and provide documentation to prove it; please check with your college/university for their requirement(s).
In addition to vaccines, appropriate hand hygiene and safe sex practices can prevent the spread of many communicable illnesses. Effective hand hygiene includes washing your hands or using hand sanitizer after using the restroom, prior to cooking or eating, or after contact with contagious bodily secretions (such as a cough, sneeze, or blowing your nose). Safe sex practices, including discussion surrounding sexually transmitted infections (STIs), condom use and birth control options are equally important. Parents, and/or healthcare practitioners, should be prepared to have an open and honest conversation with students about this topic.
Mental Health and Alcohol/Drug Abuse are two additional topics of equal importance to address when it comes to college student health. Many students are subject to grueling coarse loads and extracurriculars, all the while experiencing the stress of becoming an increasingly independent adult citizen of the world! This stress can lead many students into the development of anxiety, depression and even alcohol or drug abuse. It is important to reinforce with your teens the importance of self-care and foster the development of healthy coping mechanisms which can include exercising regularly, employing effective communication, eating nutritiously, and receiving an adequate amount of sleep.
To recap, here is a quick list of health topics to review with your healthcare practitioner regarding your college student's healthcare college preparation:
- Hand Hygiene
- Safe Sex Practices
- Mental Health (i.e. stress relief & coping mechanisms)
- Alcohol and Drug Abuse Prevention
Our Kroger Health team of nurse practitioners, physician assistants, and pharmacists are here to help your college student prep for back to school!
Disclaimer: This information is educational only and not providing healthcare recommendations. Please see a healthcare provider.