Parents and Families

Students walking by Burton Tower in fall

Why get immunized?  College students should be immunized because:

  • Infectious diseases such as pertussis (whooping cough) appear in the campus community.
  • Students often live and attend classes in close quarters.
  • Students initially tend to be "immunologically naïve," meaning they haven't been exposed to some illnesses -- it's the college version of what happened when your child went to kindergarten.
  • Your student does not have time to be sick. Flu, for example, can derail students for a week or more, and at U-M, it's hard to catch up academically from that.
  • Immunization protects everyone: other students on campus and a little sibling or grandma at home.
  • Vaccines are a very effective way to prevent infectious diseases

What’s recommended?  The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that college-age individuals be immunized against:

  • Hepatitis A and B
  • Human papilloma virus (abbreviated HPV - see below)
  • Flu (annually - see below)
  • Measles, mumps, and rubella (combined as MMR)
  • Meningitis (there are two types of vaccine - see below)
  • Polio
  • Tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis (combined as Tdap)
  • Varicella (also known as chicken pox)

Skip the flu – Annual flu shots are the #1 effective means to avoid flu, and students can easily get them on campus, either at UHS by appointment or at walk-in clinics, including at residence halls. There’s even a clinic on Friday, November 3, 1-4 PM for Parent/Family Weekend. For details see Flu and Vaccination.

Students (and even fans like yourselves!) can help U-M win the National Flu Vaccination Challenge by reporting that they got a flu shot via a brief survey. Last year U-M won this challenge, which is great for students' well-being and school pride!

What about meningitis B vaccine? Bacterial meningitis is a serious illness that can hit quickly and can be life-threatening. The standard meningitis vaccine does not protect against the meningitis B strain, which causes 1/3 of meningitis cases. Fortunately, a relatively new vaccine protects against Meningitis B. 

Current CDC guidelines say:

  • Meningitis B vaccine is optional for healthy young adults, and people ages 16-23 years old can get the vaccine, preferably at ages 16-18
  • Certain young people should be immunized against meningitis B because of existing health issues.

The CDC also recommends immunization for people at risk because of a meningitis B outbreak. Several college campuses have had to implement measures against meningitis B outbreaks. In the unlikely event of an outbreak at U-M, the university would implement a planned response that includes immunization.

On campus, University Health Service (UHS) is supportive of students getting the meningitis B vaccine. For more information, see CDC Vaccine Information Statement.

Human papilloma virus (HPV) – The Gardasil-9 vaccine protects against nine strains of HPV, including those types that most commonly cause cancers and genital warts. The CDC recommends the vaccine for both males and females through age 26. Students from countries where HPV vaccine is not available may be especially interested in this vaccine. For more information, see CDC Vaccine Information Statement.

How to get immunized on campus: Students can get immunizations at University Health Service for a fee. They can start or complete a series of vaccines. They can also get Immunizations for Travel. Some vaccines are relatively expensive, and vaccines are not covered by students' health service fee, so do check whether a vaccine is covered by your health insurance. To schedule an appointment, students should call 734-764-8320.



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