It is a common misconception that immunizations are a health precaution and requirement limited to childhood, and that after high school has passed so has the responsibility to keep them up to date. In fact, many colleges not only encourage but require certain shots for enrolled students. For an establishment like a university, with young adults from around the world living together in what is often pretty tight living quarters, this is a preventative measure that just makes sense. Even if your school does not require updated immunizations, there are many preventable diseases that you would be wise to protect yourself from before you go away to school.
The top immunization that your school is likely to require, or at least strongly recommend, is a meningococcal vaccination, to protect against meningitis. Meningitis is a bacterial infection that causes the inflammation of the membranes surrounding your spinal cord and brain. This painful and life-threatening condition is something you definitely want to avoid, but unfortunately this can be difficult when living in the cramped and often less than sanitary conditions of a college dormitory. Luckily, one easy shot that many colleges already require will be enough to keep you safe. Other immunizations which may be required, depending on your school, include the three-dose hepatitis B vaccine, and the combined vaccine that will protect you against tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis (whooping cough).
Even if they are not required by your school, there are some vaccines that are just plain smart to get. The seasonal flu shot is one of these, and can really be a life saver in the height of flu season when you are studying for your midterms or finals. The flu can spread like wildfire in a dorm, and is the last thing you need to slow you down before a big exam. Another more long-term investment you should make in your health is the human papilloma virus (HPV) vaccine. This protects against a wide range of diseases, including genital warts and many types of cancers that are caused by different strains of HPV.
Many college students are covered by their parents' health insurance plans, but there are some exceptions. If you are not covered and do not already have an individual health insurance plan, now is the time to start looking for one. This may not be the most exciting part of beginning your adult life, but it is essential for keeping you healthy and safe throughout your time at college (and beyond). Being ensured will not only cover the critical immunizations that you need, but also allow you to get regular check-ups, which is another important part of preventative care.