Deep Notch Winter photo credit Francis X Driscoll

Entering College/Military

Are you… Starting college?  Joining the military?  Entering the workforce?

 

You may think you’ve finished getting all of your vaccinations as a child, but young adults need vaccines too!  These vaccines can protect you from serious and deadly diseases.  This can be especially important if you’re living in close quarters with others – such as college dorm rooms or military barracks.  In situations like this, you’re much more likely to come in contact with dangerous germs.

In addition to your childhood vaccinations, the following four vaccines are important to keep up to date – if you haven’t already done so.  Scroll down to learn more.

 

 

Human Papillomavirus (HPV)

Did you know that the HPV vaccine is the first vaccination given to protect females and males from multiple types of cancer?

What is Human Papillomavirus (HPV)?

HPV is a very common virus that is found on the surface of the skin.  There are over 100 different strains of HPV.  It spreads by skin-to-skin contact, often with sexual activity.  It most commonly infects the genital area and the lining of the cervix.  It can cause health complications like genital warts, and many types of cancer, such as: cervical, vulvar, vaginal, penile, anal, and mouth/throat cancer.  There are often no symptoms of HPV, therefore it is most often found through testing.

How common is HPV?

HPV is the most common sexually transmitted infection in the United States.  Approximately 75% of people will come in contact with this virus in their lifetime.  Half of those newly infected are between the ages of 15 and 24 years of age.

Is HPV dangerous?

Yes.  Most of the time, HPV goes away on its own and doesn’t cause any health problems.  Sometimes that infection can linger and lead to cancer.  Every year, almost 40,000 men and women develop cancers caused by HPV.

Who should get the HPV vaccine?

The HPV vaccine is recommended for everyone between the ages of 11 and 12 years old, this is when the vaccine is the most effective.  It can be given to those as young as 9 years of age.  Males can receive the vaccine up to 21 years of age and females can receive it up to 26 years of age.

All genders should receive the HPV vaccines for the benefit of cancer and genital wart protection.  Additionally, total vaccination can lower the overall rates of transmission between partners later in life.

How can I prevent HPV?

The most effective way to prevent the transmission of any sexually transmitted infection is to abstain from sexual activity.  Most people who have HPV don’t know it, since there is often little to no symptoms.  Although condoms are always recommended as a way of decreasing sexually transmitted infections, they do not offer complete protection against HPV.

 

For more information on the HPV Vaccine, or to check out our resources, click here.

 

 

Meningococcus

Did you know that college freshman who live in dormitories are 5x more likely to get meningococcal disease than people of the same age who do not attend college?

What is meningococcus?

Meningococcus is a bacterium that lives in the lining of the nose and throat, and is spread from one person to another by close personal contact.  Occasionally, this bacterium enters the bloodstream and causes severe disease.  Typical symptoms of infection include fever, chills, intense headache, stiff neck, confusion, and dark purple spots on the arms and legs.

Is meningococcus dangerous?

Yes.  Every year about 500 people are infected with meningococcus; approximately 50 of those people die from disease, and about 20% of survivors are left with permanent disabilities.  This bacterium is particularly dangerous because it creates endotoxins in the blood which damage blood vessels and send a person into shock.  A person can die within hours of contracting this infection.

Who should get the meningococcal vaccines?

There are two meningococcal vaccines:  the first provides protection against meningococcal types A, C, W, and Y; the second provides against meningococcal type B.  Everyone should receive these vaccine courses, and people who anticipate close contact with others (i.e. college students, military members) should receive a booster of these shots.

How can I prevent meningococcal disease?

Practicing good hygiene can also help you avoid exposure.  Meningococcus is usually spread through contact with the saliva or nasal secretions of an infected person.  Try to avoid sharing drinks, eating utensils, or other items that may contain saliva.

 

For more information on the Meningococcal Vaccine, or to check out our resources, click here.

 

 

Influenza (Flu)

Did you know that although most students think it’s important to get the flu vaccine, less than half of them receive it every year!

What is influenza?

Influenza is a virus that infects the nose, throat, windpipe, and lungs.  It’s highly contagious and is spread by coughing, sneezing, or talking.  Typical symptoms include fever, chills, muscle aches, congestion, cough, runny nose, and difficulty breathing.

Who should get the influenza vaccine?

The influenza vaccine is recommended for EVERYONE 6 months of age and older.

When should I get the influenza vaccine?

This immunization should be ideally administered before the peak incidence of influenza, typically around September or October.

Why do I need to get the flu shot every year?

The influenza virus changes significantly from year to year, so immunization (or natural infection) from the previous year will not protect you from the new strain that will be going around.

How can I prevent the flu?

While hand-washing, covering coughs and sneezes, and staying home while ill can certainly help with the spread of disease, we cannot be certain that others will do the same!  Also, the flu is contagious about a day or two before symptoms have even begun in a person.

 

For more information on the Influenza Vaccine, or to check out our resources, click here.

 

 

Pertussis

Did you know pertussis used to be called the “100-day cough” because of how long the cough lasted?

What is pertussis?

Pertussis, or whooping cough, is caused by a bacterial infection in the respiratory tract.  The disease occurs in three stages.  The first stage appears similar to the common cold, with runny nose, sneezing, and coughing.  After a week or two, the illness progresses into the second stage where the cough worsens.  The coughing fits often end in a big gasp for air, making the “whoop” sound.  They are often so violent that blood vessels rupture and ribs break.  This stage can last up to two months.  The final stage is a decrease in coughing frequency and severity, however it can take weeks to months to resolve.

Who should get the pertussis vaccine?

The pediatric version of this vaccine is called DTaP and is given to children between 2 months and 6 years of age.  The adolescent/adult version, called Tdap, is given at age 11 or 12 years of age.  Both versions protect against diphtheria, tetanus, and pertussis.  Pregnant women or anyone who comes in contact with babies under 12 months of age should have the Tdap vaccination.  This is due to the high levels of fatality in infants infected with pertussis.

How can I prevent pertussis?

The most effective way to prevent pertussis is by receiving the vaccination.  Other methods to help stop the spread of pertussis include hand-washing, covering coughs and sneezes, and staying home while ill.

 

For more information on the Pertussis Vaccine, or to check out our resources, click here.

 

 

 

Are you unable to pay for vaccinations? 

There is a program to help with that!

 

Vaccines for Children is a federally funded program that provides vaccinations at no cost to people 18 years and younger, who would not be able to pay due to lack of insurance or under-insurance.

Vaccines for Adults is a federally funded program that provides vaccinations at no cost to people 19 years and older, who would not be able to pay due to lack of insurance or under-insurance.

If you have any questions about this program, follow the link above, or call Greene County Public Health Department at (518)719-3600 to learn more.

 

 

Additional Resources

 

NYSDOH College Immunization Requirements

Military Immunization Requirements

Finding Vaccination Records

Top Reasons to get Vaccinated 

Vaccine Myth Vs Fact