Health Topics



Immunization Recommendations for Meningitis

The American College Health Association (ACHA) and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommend that all first-year students living in residence halls get immunized against meningococcal disease, a rare, but potentially fatal, bacterial infection commonly referred to as meningitis. In addition, other college students under the age of 25 years who wish to reduce their risk for the disease may choose to be vaccinated.

College students living in residence halls are more likely to contract meningococcal disease than the general college population, due to lifestyle factors, such as crowded living situations, bar patronage, active or passive smoking, irregular sleep patterns, and sharing personal items.

Meningococcal disease strikes 1,400 to 3,000 Americans each year and is responsible for approximately 150 to 300 deaths. Adolescents and young adults account for nearly 30 percent of all cases of meningitis in the United States. In addition, approximately 100 to 125 cases of meningococcal disease occur on college campuses each year, and five to 15 students will die as a result.

  • Know how meningitis is spread
  • Know the symptoms (often mistaken for the flu)
  • Know when to seek medical help
  • Know about the vaccine that helps prevent meningitis

For more information about meningitis and vaccination, visit the Student Health Center.

You also can visit the websites of the American College Health Association,, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention,

Meningitis vaccines are available at the health center. Call the Health Center for price - we charge what it costs us.

HPV and HPV Vaccine Facts

What is HPV?

HPV, human papillomavirus, is the most common sexually transmitted infection in the United States and can cause abnormal Pap test results, genital warts, and cervical cancer.

More than 20 million people in the U.S. are infected with HPV, and about 6.2 million more get infected each year.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently reported that more than one in four females between the ages of 14 and 59 have HPV – and nearly 45 percent of women between the ages of 20 and 24 are infected.  Seventy-four percent of new HPV infections occur among 15-24 year-olds.  While most HPV infections don’t cause any symptoms and go away on their own, between three and six percent of the infections can lead to genital warts or to precancerous abnormal cell changes that can lead to cervical cancer.  Unquestionably, the female students at your institution could be at risk.

The American Cancer Society recently reported that in 2007 an estimated 11,000 new cases of cervical cancer will be diagnosed and 3,700 women will die from it.  While not as common in the U.S., it’s the second leading cause of cancer deaths among women around the world.


The Diseases: Tetanus, Diphtheria, and Pertussis


Getting a body piercing?

If you decide to get a body piercing, make sure you're up to date with your immunizations (especially tetanus and hepatitis B)

Tetanus is a serious disease caused by a toxin (poison) made by bacteria that’s commonly found in soil. Tetanus does not spread from person to person. The bacteria enter the body through breaks in the skin – usually cuts or puncture wounds. About 3 weeks after exposure, a child might get a headache, become cranky, and have spasms in the jaw muscle (why this disease is often called "lockjaw"). The bacteria can then produce a toxin that spreads through the body causing the painful symptoms of tetanus. The muscle spasms can be strong enough to break a child's bones, cause breathing problems and paralysis (unable to move parts of the body). And, a child might have to spend several weeks in the hospital under intensive care. Tetanus is very dangerous.


Diphtheria is a serious disease that spreads when an infected person coughs or sneezes. A person can spread the disease for up to 2 weeks after infection. Diphtheria starts with sore throat, mild fever (101 degrees or less) and chills. It causes a thick coating in the back of the nose or throat that makes it hard to breathe or swallow. The diphtheria toxin can attack the heart, causing abnormal heart rhythms and even heart failure. It can also attack the nerves, which leads to paralysis (unable to move parts of the body). About 1 out of 10 people who get diphtheria will die.


Protect siblings too

Vaccination against pertussis (whooping cough) is recommended for preteens and teens because the immunization they received as children begins to wear off. This makes preteens and teens more vulnerable to becoming infected with pertussis. Because very young infants are not fully protected, preteens and teens with pertussis can unintentionally spread it to infants around them.[1]

Pertussis—commonly referred to as whooping cough—is very contagious and can cause prolonged, sometimes extreme, coughing. While preteens and teens usually do not get as sick from pertussis as young children, coughing fits can still take place for 10 weeks or more. The prolonged illness can cause lengthy disruptions in school and other activities, and even hospitalization. Pertussis spreads easily through the air when an infected person breathes, coughs, or sneezes. A person can spread the disease while he or she has cold-like symptoms and for about 2 weeks after coughing starts.

Pertussis is a common respiratory disease in U.S. teens.

 Please contact the Student Health Center regarding vaccines and costs,


University News
October 20, 2016
The Comparison Project will present the third event in its 2016–2017 series on death and dying. A community interfaith dialogue on Oct. 27 will feature representatives of three different refugee religions in Des Moines.