Even though flu season is months away, many students at CSU are getting various vaccinations as fall semester begins.
“We’re very, very busy right now with undergraduate, transfer, and international students getting vaccinations as they come back to school,” said Bonnie Countryman with Hartshorn Health Service immunizations.
The immunizations office expects to vaccinate between 150 and 200 students per week for the first few weeks of school. In 2003, 330 people were vaccinated between Aug. 18 and 25.
Colorado state law requires that all students have vaccinations for Measles, Mumps and Rubella, also known as MMR. Students attending CSU must show proof of these shots prior to enrollment.
Although MMR is the only required vaccination for Colorado college students, the American College Health Association also recommends that students are up to date on their Hepatitis B, Tetanus and Diphtheria, Tuberculin Skin Test, Varicella (chicken pox) and Meningococcal vaccinations.
The Meningococcal bacteria can cause bacterial Meningitis, a rare but serious disease that causes swelling of the brain and spinal cord. Early symptoms are oftentimes mistaken for the flu. One in five Meningitis patients die.
According to Hartshorn nurse Lisa Duggan, college students living on campus are three to seven times more likely than the average person to contract Meningitis because of close living situations and increased stress. Despite this fact, CSU has not seen any Meningitis cases in several years.
But other state schools have not been so fortunate. University of Colorado-Boulder, University of Northern Colorado in Greeley and Metro State College in Denver have had cases in past years. Students at CSU can receive the Meningococcal vaccination at Hartshorn Health Service for $80.
Duggan concurs with the ACHA’s other recommended vaccinations, including Hepatitis B. Hepatitis B is passed through blood and bodily fluids, much like AIDS.
“Hepatitis B can be caught by simply helping an infected person if they cut themselves or have a bloody nose,” Duggan said.
Duggan also recommends the flu vaccine, which will be available in mid-October and cost around $12. Last year, Hartshorn vaccinated about 4,000 people, including staff and faculty.
“College kids are not at a high risk to develop complications from the flu, but they are at a higher risk to become infected with the flu from living in close quarters,” Duggan said.
Aside from MMR, it is the student’s choice whether they want to get vaccinated for protection against Meningococcal bacteria and Hepatitis B.
However, after a family experience, Miranda Hobemeyer, a freshman English major, believes it is a good idea for all students to take advantage of optional vaccinations.
“My cousin didn’t get vaccinated and he caught Tetanus,” Hobemeyer said. “Being safe is worth it because you could actually get sick, especially from living in the dorms.”