As we head further into August, and into National Immunization Awareness Month, more students are heading back to school. Whether it is high school or college, many of these students require routine vaccinations. Often, however, two extremely important vaccines are kept off the list: the human papillomavirus and hepatitis B immunizations.
Both diseases have a high probability of affecting the young adult age group. Youths in their late teens and early twenties tend to engage in activities that older and younger age groups either avoid or do not have as parts of their lives. For example, mature adults and young children do not have spring break, or they at least do not have one that is filled with the same activities that a college student might engage in.
The annual spring break trip can pose a variety of hazards depending on where someone is headed, possibly requiring travel preparations like hepatitis A, typhoid or even antimalarial medications. But, it isn’t the trip itself that can be the issue. Hepatitis B can be spread through sexual contact as well as contaminated needles. While getting a tattoo may seem to some like a spring break rite of passage, it can lead to serious complications if a person isn’t vaccinated.
Additionally, close living quarters increases the risk of disease spread. Indeed, the close quarters contact usually associated with dorm life has led many schools to recommend or require meningitis vaccination, and some organizations like Health Canada are starting to recommend the HPV vaccine as well.
Human papillomavirus is spread primarily through sexual contact and has various complications ranging from warts to cancer. What makes the disease even more dangerous is that it can go undiagnosed for years and can be contracted when someone (male or female) has only been with one sexual partner.
Despite common beliefs, the HPV vaccine is recommended for both women and men and is entirely safe for use for the indicated age groups and individuals.
Full protection against every single disease that a college or high school student may come across isn’t possible, but between required, routine and recommended vaccinations, including meningitis, HPV and hepatitis B, a student can be sent off well protected.
What do you do to help your students prepare for school? Let us know in the comments below, on Facebook or via Twitter.