If you’re preparing for your freshman year of college (or sending your high school graduate off for the first time), you’re probably busy shopping for dorm room decor, signing up for classes, and stalking your assigned roommate on social media. But there’s a potentially life-saving part of college preparation that’s often forgotten – vaccines. Until college, most of us live with a small, close-knit group of people we call family. We encounter most of the germs that make us sick when we venture outside of our homes and come into contact with larger groups of unfamiliar people in schools, stores, and other public places.
In a college dorm, your risk of coming into contact with less common diseases goes up. You’re suddenly living with a large group of people, and you all venture out into public, crowded spaces every day for classes and social events, bringing the bugs you came into contact with back to the dorm. Because of the risks associated with living in campus housing, the CDC recommends that young adults receive certain vaccines before heading off to college.
The human papilloma virus is extremely common and is usually spread through sexual activity. Some people carry HPV without serious effects, but in some women it causes cervical cancer and, more uncommonly, penile and anal cancer in men and throat and oral cancer in men and women. The vaccine is recommended for boys and girls at 11 to 12 years old, but young adults who didn’t receive…