Immunization and Vaccination Requirements for Studying in the US

Immunization and Vaccination Requirements for Studying in the US's photoBy Esther Ebere
Thu Jul 18 2024
Immunization and Vaccination Requirements for Studying in the US

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Studying in the US requires meeting specific health and immunization standards. These requirements help keep the student community safe and healthy. 

Are you an international student planning to study in the US? 

This guide explains what you need to know about vaccines and immunizations for international students in the US.

Let’s begin by looking at the importance of immunization and vaccination documentation…

Why Immunizations and Vaccination Documentation Are Important

Universities want to create a healthy and safe environment for all students and staff. Vaccination documentation shows you're protected from contagious diseases and less likely to get sick, which helps keep everyone safe. 

But beyond that,  there are other reasons why US schools want proof of your vaccines:

  • Legal rules: Many states require certain vaccines for students.

  • Public health: Vaccines prevent outbreaks in the community.

  • School policy: Colleges often have their own vaccine rules.

With the proper documentation, institutions can ensure the safety of incoming students and the health of other students.



Immunization and Vaccination Requirements for Studying in the US

There are two key things to remember about immunization requirements in the US:

1. General guidelines:  The US has recommended immunizations for all universities. These are important but may differ from one institution to the other.

2. University-specific requirements:  In addition to the general guidelines, each university might have slightly different requirements. It's essential to check the specific immunization information on your chosen school's website.

Standard vaccine requirements for most US schools 

  • MMR (Measles, Mumps, Rubella): Two doses are usually needed.

  • Tdap (Tetanus, Diphtheria, Pertussis): One dose within the last ten years.

  • Varicella (Chickenpox): Two doses or proof of having had the disease.

  • Meningococcal: Often required for students under 23 years.

  • Hepatitis B: A series of three shots is required.

  • Tuberculosis screening.

Some schools may also ask for the following:

  • Polio vaccine

  • Flu shot (yearly)

  • HPV

  • COVID-19 vaccine

Bear in mind that requirements may vary by school and state. Always check with your specific school for their requirements. Some may accept blood tests that show immunity instead of vaccine records.



Best Time to Get Vaccinated?

The best time to get vaccinated is before you arrive in the US. This is because getting all your vaccinations in your country is cheaper and more cost-effective than in the US. 

However, if you can’t get vaccinated in your country, you can contact your school's student health services department for assistance before school resumes. Regardless, not fulfilling all vaccination requirements may not stop you from arriving in the US for studies.

Can I get vaccinated in the US? Yes, you can. However, it’s quite expensive and much of a hassle than getting one in your home country.

Where to Obtain Immunization/Vaccination Records

1. Get photocopies of your immunization records from your doctor or healthcare provider.

2. Ask your parents or guardians for a record of vaccinations.

3. Contact your state or local health department.

4. Check vaccination records with your primary, secondary, or high school.

5. If you once served in the military, check there.

6. If you had to provide vaccination records to a previous employer or university, they might still have a copy.

Please note that if you’re from Nigeria, Kenya, Ghana, or Uganda, you’ve probably received vaccinations as a child. You can ask your parents for the vaccination cards to prove this. 

That said, vaccinations like yellow fever and COVID-19 and others outside of the regular ones should be taken depending on your school's requirements.

Visit your primary health center or government hospital in your area to get the vaccines done and receive a government-issued certificate or vaccine records. 

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