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What does the CDC website have to do with college students? Quite a bit. This resource is a treasure trove of information about various health risks you may experience on campus, and, more importantly, how to mitigate them.
That said, the CDC website is also vast. How can you find the information you need most?
We made your work easier for you. Here are six tips for college students from the CDC website that you should review before heading off to school.
1. On Meningitis
The risk of infectious disease increases any time you have a large number of people sharing communal living spaces — such as dormitories. The bacteria that cause this infection requires shared respiratory and throat secretions. However, one in ten individuals may have this pathogen but no signs. That seemingly innocent “Let me have a sip of that” could have severe repercussions. ‘
According to a 2009 study found on the CDC website, first-year college students are seven times more likely to get meningitis than other college students. Outbreaks occurred 9 to 23 times more frequently among students living in dormitories. This disease can cause flu-like symptoms that progress to death within a matter of hours. Students may delay treatment, thinking they are merely coming down with a cold, and end up waiting until it’s too late.
Because of these risks, the CDC website recommends that all college students get the MenACY vaccination before their first year. Those who received this shot before their 16th birthday require a booster before departing for class. Some students may also need a MenB vaccine if they are at an increased risk — talk to your doctor to be sure.
2. On COVID-19
Meningitis isn’t the only potentially deadly infectious disease that can spread like wildfire on crowded college campuses. The world may want to forget about COVID-19, but it is still around. Fortunately, the CDC website provides valuable information on preventing infection.
For example, the CDC continues to recommend public masking in areas of substantial or high transmission. Many colleges determine rules independently, but you can certainly wear a face covering — doing so reduces your risk while protecting others.
What should you know if you get infected? The CDC website advises remaining in quarantine for five days. You may need to isolate yourself at home for longer if you are at an elevated risk. Furthermore, they recommend that institutes of higher learning implement an entrance screening strategy for those not up to date with their vaccinations.
3. On Being Female
It’s unfair, but female college students face considerable health risks their male peers do not. Now, with Roe’s repeal, they face even further concerns. One in five women reports a completed or attempted rape at some point in their lifetime — and that’s only those who choose to tell.
Fortunately, universities must keep statistics on dating violence and sexual assault, but there’s no foolproof way to avoid becoming one of them. However, you should avoid risky behavior like engaging in alcohol or drugs, especially at parties with people you don’t know and trust.
Many college-age women are cash-strapped, making it challenging to pay the monthly “female tax.” Students experiencing “period poverty” may lack the financial means to manage their menstrual periods. Schools should provide information about resources to help women struggling to choose between food and period products.
4. On Vaccination Requirements
Because infectious diseases spread more quickly in confined, crowded spaces, many colleges and universities implement vaccination policies. These vary by school and can include the meningitis and COVID-19 vaccine.
The CDC website provides handy links to all vaccinations you should have, separated by age range. If you are missing one or more vaccines, talk to your parents if you’re under 18 or contact your campus health office. They should be able to guide you in finding a physician and getting the necessary shots.
5. On Binge Drinking
Binge drinking is most common among younger adults aged 18 to 34. It’s a problem on college campuses, where peer pressure and the freedom of being away from home collide.
Binge drinking puts you at risk of numerous health problems, from injuries caused by accidents to sexually transmitted diseases and unwanted pregnancies. It contributes to fetal alcohol syndrome in infants and increases the risk of chronic health problems like heart disease and cancer.
Binge drinking can also progress to alcohol use disorder, especially given the anxiety many college students feel. They may turn to the bottle to relax and soon find themselves unable to function without a drink or two. This behavior can lead to failing grades and difficulties making it to class, even expulsion or dropping out in severe cases.
6. On Mental Health
Mental health concerns are a growing problem among teenagers. These issues often go hand in hand with problematic behavior like drug and alcohol use, risky sexual behavior and experiencing violence.
The CDC website recommends that schools take a proactive stance in supporting teen mental health by creating welcoming and supporting spaces and providing access to services. They advise reviewing discipline policies to ensure equity, train staff and integrate social and emotional learning. When taking your college tours, ask the universities you visit about their onsite counseling and group support offerings.
Tips From the CDC Website
College students face unique health risks. Fortunately, the CDC website provides a wealth of information for incoming learners and their parents.
Review the six tips from the CDC website above before booking your college tours. You’ll be better educated to ask your health-related questions and get them answered before you enroll.