Understanding your immunization history can be difficult, especially as a college student. You no longer have your parents telling you that you need to go to your health care provider and get a yearly check-up. Most of us just avoid the doctors all together and hope that nothing is wrong with us! But knowing your immunization history and making sure you are on top of your vaccinations is important to your overall health, even as an invincible college student.
This article will help you understand what immunizations are recommended and how you can find your immunization history.
What are immunizations?
First, let’s define immunizations. The World Health Organization says that immunization is a process by which someone becomes resistant to a disease, usually through vaccines. Vaccines are also known as shots. Sometimes you may need just one shot to become resistant to a disease, but other times you may need two to three over the course of several months.
Now that we know what immunizations are, we need to know which vaccines are recommended for college students and learn where we can find our health records.
Where can I find my immunization history?
Many of us had immunizations done throughout during our elementary, middle, and high school years. The Center for Disease Control notes that your immunization history can be found in a few places:
- Check at your local health care provider’s office. It is very likely they have your records if you have been there in the last five years.
- Ask your parents—they may have an old health record from your high school years.
- Your high school may have kept health records; call your old schools to see if they may still have them.
- Some places of employment require that you are vaccinated, so check with old employers to see if they have any of your previous health records.
- Michigan has a database where most immunization records are kept. It is called the Michigan Care Improvement Registry (MCIR). You can request your records from there: https://www.mcir.org/public/
If you are unable to locate your records, and your parents cannot confirm that you had certain vaccinations, it is okay to have vaccines administered again. The Wayne State Campus Health Center (CHC) offers vaccines for college students as well.
What vaccines should I get?
The Center for Disease Control has a few recommendations of immunizations for adults aged 19-26. This is the age range for many college students. Let’s take a look at the three main vaccines recommended so we can understand who they are for and why we should get them.
This seasonal shot is recommended for all adults once a year. Anyone can catch the flu, and it’s most common during the winter months. The flu is no fun, particularly for college students during exam time. Make sure to get your flu shot so you’re not stuck with a stuffy nose during finals week. The CHC often has free flu shots during flu season, so there’s no excuse to end up with the flu. Be prepared and get your flu shot early.
This shot is also called the booster shot. It is recommended for all adults. Many of us receive this shot when we are kids, but it’s necessary to receive it again. If you did not receive this shot during your adolescent years, it is recommended that you get it during your young adult years. This vaccine prevents against three serious conditions: tetanus, diphtheria, and whooping cough. These three harmful diseases are caused by bacteria. They can cause tightening and locking of muscles, breathing problems, bone fractures, and other serious issues. Be preventative and make sure you have received this immunization
This immunization shot is generally recommended for women under 26 and men under 21. That’s right! Men should receive this vaccine as well. The Center for Disease Control says that the human papillomavirus (HPV) can cause cervical cancer, anal cancer, and genital warts. This is an important shot for sexually active college students. Once again, be prepared and be preventative, not reactive. Ask your provider about these shots.
Immunizations are important! Always check with your health care provider to see which vaccines are recommended for you. Prevent diseases by getting your shots done on schedule. If you need more information about immunizations, check with the CHC. There are nurse practitioners and health care workers at the CHC who are always willing to help. Immunizations lead to a healthier and happier you!