Health & Safety

Check-ups, shots and first aid kits for college students

What your incoming freshman needs before school starts

The college will want completed health forms before your student arrives on campus, so help your student schedule a physical with the family doctor early in the summer.

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High School Parent | College Parent

Vaccination requirements vary — you and your student can find this information on the college website. In addition to a physical exam, some schools require additional medical documentation if your student plans to participate in sports.

Here is a typical list of required and recommended vaccinations:

Tetanus/Diphtheria (TD) (or Tdap, which also protects against Acellular Pertussis, or whooping cough) TD and Tdap are part of a normal childhood vaccination schedule. If the last dose was given more than ten years ago, your student may need another.

Measles/Mumps/Rubella (MMR) (2 doses) – This also is a standard childhood vaccine, so chances are your son or daughter is protected.

Hepatitis B or A/B (3 doses) – Hepatitis is a serious communicable illness. Three doses are required, so be sure to leave plenty of time.

Meningococcal MCV4 or MPSV4 – Meningitis is a dangerous illness that can spread quickly in the close quarters of college classrooms and residence halls. The meningococcal vaccine is either required or highly recommended for all new students.

Varicella (2 doses or proof of immunity) – The “chicken pox” vaccine is either required or recommended.

Tuberculosis Screening Form – This requirement has become more common. If the school determines your student has risk factors for TB (this includes many international students), it may require a TB skin test.

HPV – This vaccine is not generally required but is recommended by the Center for Disease Control. It protects against human papillomaviruses that can cause cervical cancer and other serious diseases.

Seasonal flu vaccine The seasonal flu vaccine is an important part of preventative health care, so make sure your college student is protected. Many student health centers offer free shots as the flu season gets under way.

Medical, religious and personal exemptions to vaccine requirements are allowed by law in some states. However, following the recent measles outbreak, many colleges and universities are amending their exemption policies.

In addition, be aware that during a severe outbreak of a communicable disease on campus, exempted students may be subject to quarantine or even excluded from school. The CDC website,, has information on all the above illnesses and can help you locate missing vaccination records.

DIY Dorm First Aid Kit

Send your student to school with a fully-stocked first aid kit. Tape a sheet to the lid with:

  • Your student’s current doctor’s name and contact information
  • The names and prescription numbers of all prescriptions, plus contact information for the nearest pharmacy
  • The phone number (and address) of the college Health Center, as well as the closest urgent care and emergency dentist
  • A copy of his or her insurance card
  • Your family’s home phone number (for someone else to call in case of an emergency)

Include these basics:

  • Cough drops
  • Cold medication
  • Allergy medication, if needed
  • Pain/fever relieving medication
  • Thermometer
  • Nausea medication
  • Instant ice pack
  • Bandages
  • Antibiotic cream or wipes
  • Tweezers
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Pocket tissue packs

 Did you enjoy reading this article? Sign up for UniversityParent’s weekly eNewsletter and purchase the Guide to Supporting Your Student’s Freshman Year for additional tips, insight, and to help your college student succeed. You may also add to the discussion and get feedback from fellow college parents by joining our College Parents’ Facebook group.

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