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UMass to provide Meningitis vaccine clinics in wake of outbreak

(Collegian File Photo)

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In relation to two recent cases of students diagnosed with Meningococcal diseases on the University of Massachusetts campus, the disease was officially determined to be an outbreak by University Health Services, in concert with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Additionally, UHS will be holding four serogroup B vaccinations walk-in clinics during the next two weeks.

Following additional testing of the two diagnosed students, UHS and the CDC made the determination, citing the fact that the two cases originated form a single strain of genetically identical organisms, stated Dr. George A. Corey, executive director at University Health Services, in an email sent out on Tuesday to the UMass community.

“University Health Services is recommending that students at the highest risk receive serogroup B vaccinations at a series of four walk-in clinics during the next two weeks,” Corey said.

“Those at the highest risk include: all undergraduates, graduate students living in undergraduate housing, and all students with conditions such as asplenia, a complement deficiency, sickle cell anemia or those taking the medication Solaris. This includes both on-campus and off-campus students,” he added.

UMass has administered over 1,400 Meningococcal B vaccinations to students so far, according to Corey, and to reduce the risk even further, he emphasized, is through large walk-in clinics.

“We will need your utmost cooperation and attendance to protect you from this preventable, serious illness,” Corey stated. “Meanwhile, the campus will safely maintain regular operations. There are no plans to interrupt any classes, attendance or housing at UMass due to Meningococcus B.”

Corey also spoke in a press conference at the University on Tuesday. According to MassLive, he repeated that there is no need to cancel classes. The outbreak declaration “reinforces [the precautions] we have taken all along,” he said. “The illness is ‘rare but serious.’”

MassLive also reported that UMass spokesman Edward Blaguszewski said that the “outbreak” designation allows for insurance to cover the costs of the vaccine.

The large-scale vaccination clinics will be held from noon to 6 p.m. in the Cape Cod Lounge of the Student Union on Thursday, November 30, Friday, December 1, Monday, December 4 and Tuesday, December 5.

“UHS also continues to advise the campus community to take health smart precautions. Don’t swap saliva. Avoid sharing food, drinks and personal items that contact saliva, including drinks from punch bowls,” Corey said. “Wash hands with soap and water or hand sanitizer. Cover coughs and sneezes with a tissue or your sleeve. Don’t touch your eyes, nose, or mouth—germs spread easily this way. If you are sick, have fever, or other concerns, UHS is here to help you.”

Jackson Cote can be reached at jkcote@umass.edu and followed on Twitter @jackson_k_cote.

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