Is Vaccination on Your College Checklist? July 31, 2014 By Cait Hartwyk Leave a Comment Preparing for your freshman year of college can be a daunting, yet extremely exciting, experience as you enter into a new life chapter full of unknowns. For many, making the transition from a high school senior to college freshman will be the biggest and scariest life change thus far. Remember, how you prepare for this change will ultimately determine your experience. There are many preparation tips and advice columns out there for future freshman to help them survive and thrive during their first year away. Many of these resources provide guidance on dorm essentials, academics, social elements, time management, and finances. However, don’t let a lengthy checklist and limited time make you forget the item that should truly be at the top of your to do list: make sure you are up to date on your Meningitis vaccine! Meningitis is a dangerous inflammation of the lining of the brain and spinal cord, and it may be caused by a variety of pathogens, including bacteria, viruses, fungi, environmental toxins, and reactions to medications.The disease can be difficult to recognize, especially in its early stages, since the symptoms are similar to those of more common viral illnesses. But unlike more common illnesses, meningitis can cause death or disability within just one day. Meningitis is contagious and can be spread through the transmission of air droplets, kissing, sharing of items, living in close quarters, or using utensils that may have been infected — all things that are likely to occur in a college dorm! As a result, college students can be a particular risk for meningitis. Getting the meningitis vaccination is the best way to protect yourself from this disease and have a healthy freshman year. Studies show that first year students living in college residence halls are at an increased risk for meningitis when compared with other persons of the same age. Why is this? College students come into contact with people from all over the world, live in close quarters where the bacteria can easily multiply, and their immune systems notoriously are stressed by lack of sleep. In recent years, there has been a dramatic increase in reported cases of the highly contagious, potentially deadly illness on college campuses, and many schools are now urging students to get vaccinated in an effort to prevent a meningitis outbreak in the first place. In addition, some states are enforcing new laws requiring college students to be vaccinated against meningitis in order to be able to attend the university. It is vital to make sure you are up to date on this vaccination before you leave for school in order to protect your health and that of fellow students. So, don’t forget to add the Meningitis vaccination to the top of your college to-do list today!