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Experts: Vaccines Should Be Part Of College Student's Checklist

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CHAPEL HILL, N.C. — College students are winding down the summer and getting ready to head back to school. Besides the obvious back to school items like books, pens and paper. Health experts said a vaccine should be a part of every student's to-do list.

Most universities do not require the meningococcal vaccine for incoming freshmen, but UNC strongly recommends it.

College campus life can be a breeding ground for meningitis, and it can be life-threatening, but it is just one of several shots recommended or required for students. Many students have had the DPT vaccine before, but now the shot is combined with immunization against pertussis or whooping cough.

The vaccine used to be limited to young children, but there's been a rash of new cases affecting infants.

"They were finding that adolescents and adults that were coming down with pertussis cases were actually the ones infecting these young children," said Sara Hauser, of the Wake County Health Department.

The Wake County Health Department's immunization clinic is also filling up with older adults. While they are at the clinic, the staff asks patients about their tetanus records. Many do not remember when they had their last five-year booster.

"It's best for them to consult their physician about getting a booster dose, especially if they've had an injury," Hauser said.

From 2003 to 2004, reported cases of pertussis or whooping cough were up 63 percent. In 50 percent of those cases, where an infant caught it, a parent was the source of infection.


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