Medically reviewed by Sophia Yen, MD, MPH – Written by Christal
Fall 2016 is about to start. Is your body ready?
For some of you, this is your first semester in college or your first year of grad school. For others of you, it’s another semester and another year. For the rest of us, it’s just another day at work. Whichever category you fall into, here’s a list of things to do to keep your health in check.
Get your shots and take a picture of your shot record
There have been some advancements in vaccines since you were 12 so you might not have gotten the most recent version of a vaccine. This includes your HPV (human papillomavirus) shots which used to cover 4 strands and now 7 strands, preventing 90% of cervical cancer. You can read more about HPV vaccine and why you should get all three of them to keep yourself healthy.
Also get your Tdap which is for tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis (whooping cough) which are all life-threatening bacterial diseases. Diphtheria and pertussis are spread through secretions from coughing or sneezing while tetanus enters the body through cuts, scratches, or wounds. You can read more about Tdap vaccine here.
Last but not least, get your MCV shot for meningitis. Meningococcal disease can spread from person to person via kissing or coughing so teens and young adults are more likely to catch this disease. Infections are rare but in the unfortunate event that this happens, the infection will occur in the fluid and lining around the brain and spinal cord, and about 10 to 15 out of 100 people with meningococcal disease will die from it. Let’s be safe than sorry!
Get your doctor to prescribe you emergency contraceptives (morning after pill)
Ask your doctor for Ulipristal acetate (Ella), fill it at your local pharmacy, and ask for the LATEST expiration date. This is the “morning after pill” but that is a misnomer because you can actually use it for up to 5 days after intercourse. A better word would be “emergency contraceptive”. Just like a fire extinguisher, you should have one just in case. Trust me… you don’t want to wait until the actual morning after and run to the pharmacy only to find it not yet open and cash out $50-80 to pay for it. Always have some emergency contraception around in case condoms rip. And the sooner you take it, the better in terms of efficacy. Better safe than sorry!
Get some good condoms
You never know when you’re going to need it. It’s the 21st century and women should definitely carry their own. In fact, men think that women who carry condoms are responsible, confident, and well prepared. No longer should men be the one carrying condoms – women should too! You can check itscondomdepot.com for ratings of different brands but we like Sustain Condoms because their condoms are sustainable and vegan AND 10% of their profits go to women’s reproductive health organizations. But we also like Lovability Condoms for their très cute packaging!
Get FamilyPACT and sign up for a Confidential Communications Request Form
For those in CA and don’t have insurance, get Family Pact which provides comprehensive family planning services to eligible low income men and women. You can either get this from your university health center or a local Planned Parenthood.
In the event you already have insurance and are planning to stay with your parents until you’re 26, you go to http://www.myhealthmyinfo.org and fill out the Confidential Communications Request Form to keep your health information private. This way, sensitive services like birth control, STD/pregnancy tests, or mental health care can be kept private between you and your doctor.
Pick Your Safety Six
This is a mobile way to look out for each other on campus or when you’re out for the night so that you can prevent violence before it happens. Download Circle of 6 available for both Android and iPhone, and pick your top 6 contacts that would be able to help you in case you need help getting home or needing an interruption (like you’re on a bad date and need someone to call you to pretend like you gotta go!).
And after you finish this check off list, simply remember that you’re fabulous and that you’re gonna kill it this semester! Fall 2016 ain’t even ready for you.
The above information is for general informational purposes only and is NOT a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your doctor/primary care provider before starting or changing treatment.