MU Extension MU Extension       University of Missouri    ●    Columbia    ●    Kansas City       Missouri S&T     ●    St. Louis - Health


Health Feature Articles

Recent Immunization Additions

Mary Gosche, Human Development Specialist, University of Missouri Extension

When my daughter entered college five years ago, I insisted that she take the shot for meningitis. She was very mad at her mother but, several months later, when someone in the dorm became sick she was very thankful she was immunized. For many years, immunization was administered mostly in childhood and old age. Now MO law requires that college students be informed of the disease and the importance of immunization.

Teenagers are very difficult to immunize. They may only go to the doctor when they have a broken bone or are seriously ill. Symptoms of bacterial meningitis are: a stiff neck, numbness in the hands and feet and sensitivity to light. Adolescents are targeted because the bacteria spreads easily through dormitories, military barracks and other close quarters. According to a study by Dr. Lee Harrison published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, older adolescents and young adults represent 30% of the cases of bacterial meningitis in the United States. The death rate is 19%, which is three to four times higher than for younger age groups.

Why immunize?

  • Prevent diseases
  • Reduce medical costs
  • Reduce spread of disease to other high risk groups
  • Decrease absences from school/work

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advisory panel recommends new vaccines, and most physicians follow its advice. Public health departments in the county have these vaccines available at costs that cover their expenses. However, many families rely on the school to alert them as when immunizations are needed. Sometimes immunization schedules are not well understood and they vary from state to state.

When I was doing research for this article, the immunization schedule for children was being revised on the Center for Disease Control’s web site. Check with your pediatrician for the updated immunization schedule for children or check the website A new vaccine approved in June 2006 by the Food and Drug Administration is Human Papilloma Virus (HPV). This is the first anti-cancer vaccine in the United States. This vaccine is recommended for sexually active teenagers before the onset of sexual activity.

Immunization Schedule

Vaccines for teenagers:

  • Varicella (chicken pox)
  • Hepatitis B
  • Measles-Mumps-Rubella (MMR)
  • Tetanus-Diptheria

Vaccines for college students:

  • Bacterial Meningitis

Vaccines for Adults:

  • Tetanus-Diphtheria
    (all adults, every 10 years)
  • Influenza (Flu)
    (adults 50 and older)
  • Pneumococcal
    (adults 65 and older)
  • Hepatitis B
    (adults at risk)
  • Measles-Mumps-Rubella (MMR)
    (susceptible adults)
  • Varicella (chickenpox)
    (susceptible adults)
  • Vaccines for travelers
    (see CDC travel web site for Specifics)

It can sometimes be difficult to understand or keep track of exactly which vaccines you need. Keep your own record of vaccines in a book or file. Recommendations for children, adolescents, and adults are based on a variety of factors including age, overall health status, and medical history. Contact your health care provider for further guidance.



Adolescent “Shorts” newsletter. July/August 2005, Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services. Volume 7. Number 4.

Center for Disease Control, National Immunization Program, 8/29/2006.




University of Missouri logo links to

Site Administrator:
Copyright  ADA  Equal Opportunity

MissouriFamilies is produced by the College of Human Environmental Sciences,
Extension Division, University of Missouri


Last Updated 05/05/2009