Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Vaccinations aren't just for children; coalition encourages shots for college students

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By Danielle Ray
Kentucky Health News

"Getting your shots" is part of starting to school, but it's also supposed to be part of the drill at the University of Kentucky, the University of Louisville and Kentucky State University.

The Kentucky Immunization Coalition, a public-private partnership, has mounted an effort to make sure students at those and other schools get immunized.

U of L began requiring all incoming freshmen to be vaccinated for diseases including hepatitis B, tuberculosis and meningitis in 2014.

UK requires only the meningitis vaccine for incoming freshmen living in campus housing. However, university health officials strongly recommend all other routine childhood vaccines, including those that protect against illnesses such as measles, mumps, rubella, chicken pox, polio, diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis, hepatitis B, hepatitis A and human papillomavirus.

Students in health-profession colleges at UK who train and work in hospital settings must have additional vaccinations, including those that protect against hepatitis B, chicken pox and season flu.

Phillip Bressoud, executive director of campus health services at U of L, said the ultimate goal is effective outbreak management.

"Over several years, we'd had situations where we'd had either an outbreak of tuberculosis or chicken pox, and when that happens it's really difficult to assess who is vaccinated or unvaccinated, and who we need to notify," Bressoud told Lisa Gillespie, of WFPL in Louisville.

Bressoud says managing an outbreak includes telling unvaccinated students what to avoid in order to keep it contained.

Potentially toxic ingredients from formaldehyde to aluminum can produce adverse effects in vaccines, especially if a person is allergic to an ingredient used in the vaccine. Any vaccine can cause side effects. For the most part, though, side effects are minor, such as a sore arm or low-grade fever, and they typically go away within a few days, according to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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