Certain vaccines have multiple doses(Eg: Hepatitis B). If the first dose is taken today, the second dose would have to be taken a month later and the third dose would be 6 months. That is why, you have to be ahead of time in taking the vaccines.
The following vaccines are standard for all U.S Universities. Kindly check with your university, if they have any additional requirements.
(1) MMR (Measles, Mumps and Rubella) Vaccine:
The MMR vaccine is mandatory by US State Law. The conventional MMR vaccine has two doses. Most of us have taken the first dose at 1.5 years of age and the booster dose at 10-12 years of age. If you have not taken the booster dose you must consult your physician.
- The new type of MMR vaccine has three doses. Now, some schools offer the option of showing a lab report of your IgG antibody titer rather than proof of the vaccination. However, this test is very expensive (more expensive than the vaccine itself). And I know only one laboratory in Mumbai that does this test. I think it costs around Rs 1700.
Meningitis vaccine is again a mandatory for students planning to live on-campus. For students planning to live off-campus it's optional. Now, Meningitis is rampant in the US (even Obama’s daughter wasn’t spared!). However, the vaccine is strong. Hence it maybe painful or cause fever and headache in certain individuals. Please consult your doctor for his advice on whether you should take this vaccine or not !
This vaccine is usually not available with doctors.You can buy it from any chemist or hospital pharmacy. However, you would need a doctors prescription for this. Please note that you cannot even ENTER a hospital pharmacy without a prescription. Please check the expiry date of the vaccine before buying it.
The meningitis vaccine is a lyophilized powder that needs to be diluted with sterile water before use. The powder and water will both be there in the vaccine that you buy. However, the expiry for the water and the powder is different. The water usually has an expiry date one year after the expiry date of the powder ! So look out for that. There are several Meningitis vaccines available in the market.
The most recommended one is the Meningococcal Polysaccharide Vaccine ( Group A, C Y & W135). However, you must consult your doctor before buying the vaccine !
(3) Hepatitis B vaccine:
Again, please check with your University as to whether this vaccine is compulsory for you or not. Like I mentioned earlier, the Hepatitis B Vaccine has 3 doses. One today, second after a month and the third is after six months of the second one.
This may/may not be mandatory depending on your University. In case if you require a Tetanus and Diptheria vaccine, a combination vaccine called the “Td” vaccine is available. Most of us have taken a DPT (Diptheria Tetanus and Pertussis) Vaccine when we were 5-6 years old. Though this one is not mandatory, most doctors recommend taking a Tetanus shot before coming to US.
(5) Chicken pox:
The requirements, again, vary according to the University. If you’ve already had chickenpox few Universities accept the date of infection in place of proof of vaccination. If you have not had chicken pox and wish to take the vaccine…it is a two dose vaccine..one today and the second one after three weeks.
Suggestion: Chicken pox is such a disease that the later it comes in life the more severe and fatal it is. Please take the vaccine if you have had a chance.
(6) The Dreaded TB Test:
There are two tests: The Mantaux Test or the Patch Test AND the QuantiFERON Gold Test
Ask your university as to which test will they accept. The Mantaux test is not accepted by a few universities. In the Mantaux Test, an injection is given on the fore arm and that area is observed for 72 hours. Significant amount of swelling (around 20mm) is considered to be a positive.
The QuantiFERON gold test is a blood test.
Both the tests check if an individual has antibodies (resistance) to TB. If you are from India(TB is an endemic disease in India) and have taken the BCG vaccine (notice that circle/spot on your upper arm) most of you would give positive QuantiFERON or Mantaux Test. So, then the chest X-rays needs to be done. Few Universities do not accept tests or X-rays done for TB in India. So, please check back with your University.
(a) Hepatitis A
(b) Human Papilloma Virus or Cervical Cancer Vaccine (Usually for women..has two doses)
We tried to cover most of the general vaccinations needed to be done, before coming to U.S. Once again I want to remind you all that if you have an incomplete health and immunization records, if won't be able to register for courses. If you fail to register before course registration deadline, you will not be in valid status and may face a hard time.
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