The essential health checklist for college-bound teens
Do you have a teen who is college-bound this fall? Dr. Cathy Joyce, an adolescent medicine physician at Advocate Children’s Hospital offers parents this healthy checklist to ensure their student is prepared for the new adventure.
- Get your child a Meningococcal B vaccine to prevent meningococcal meningitis. The vaccine is a two-dose series, one given initially and the second dose a month later. This vaccine should not be confused with the quadrivalent meningococcal vaccine (effective against type A, C, W, and Y) given at age 11-12 or after age 16 (Illinois requires administration prior to starting the 12th grade).
- Verify all other necessary vaccines. Be sure to confer with your teen’s Primary Care Physician (PCP) to verify that your child has received all of the necessary vaccines (HPV, Tdap, MMR, Varicella, Hepatitis-A, Hepatitis-B, IPV).
- Get your child a COVIC-19 vaccine. Entering college students should have received their COVID vaccine prior to the school year. Many colleges and universities are requiring evidence that students be vaccinated to be on campus and to reside in campus housing. Dr. Joyce recommends contacting your college or university and determine what their requirements are, so that you do not have to delay your admission.
- Check on possible housing limitations. Some are still limiting on-campus housing to single or double rooms. As more adolescents are vaccinated, they will be able to live in rooms or on-campus housing with other vaccinated adolescents. Each school will determine their own requirements.
- Talk to your child about drugs and alcohol. Inform them that alcohol and drug use places them at risk. These risk-taking behaviors can adversely affect their GPA; cause an ER visit or hospitalization; suspension or expulsion from the academic institution; lose a scholarship or athletic privileges; incarceration and possible police record; disability or even death (motor vehicle accidents, etc.). Alcohol and drug use can have a harmful effect on mood (e.g., depression, suicidality, anxiety, etc.) and their ability to concentrate. All of these problems can interfere with school success. Do not lecture them — just give them the facts. Stay positive when talking and tell your teen that you love them. This is not a one-time discussion — continue the conversation as they will meet new friends. Inform them that the decision they make can affect their future. And again, do not forget to tell them that you love them and that you are only a phone call away.
About the Author
Evonne Woloshyn, health enews contributor, is director of public affairs at Advocate Children's Hospital. Evonne began her career as an anchor and reporter in broadcast news. Over the past 20 years, she has worked in health care marketing in both Ohio and Illinois. Evonne loves to travel, spend time with family and is an avid Pittsburgh Steelers fan!