UHS holds large-scale, walk-in Meningococcal B vaccinations

By Alvin Buyinza

(Judith Gibson-Okunieff/Daily Collegian)

The University of Massachusetts’ University Health Services ran a large-scale, walk-in clinic on Thursday in the Student Union, vaccinating 1,100 to 1,200 students with the Meningococcus B Vaccine, Bexsero. Roughly 40 student nurses from the College of Nursing and five registered nurses from UHS were there to administer the vaccines.

The walk-in clinic was also open to students on Friday, and will be open from noon to 6 p.m. on Monday, December 4 and Tuesday, December 5 as well.

According to Mary Dettloff, deputy director for News and Media Relations, the walk-in clinic started at noon. Students were asked to fill out insurance forms handed out by student nurses. They then delivered the forms to the patient accounting representatives in the Cape-Cod Lounge to be registered. Once registered, they walked down the hallway into room 310 to get vaccinated.

According to Dr. George Corey, executive director at UHS, for the past two years, UHS has been a planning a walk-in clinic as a safety drill in case of an outbreak.

“In case of an outbreak we know what to do and what the team would have to do,” Corey said.

According to Corey, UHS budgeted roughly 1 million dollars toward vaccines for the walk-in clinic. UHS has stocked roughly over 10,000 vaccines for students and is prepared to administer 4,000 to 5,000 vaccines a day. Corey says that UHS will continue to offer administering vaccines until every student is vaccinated. Corey also said, in case of a shortage of vaccines, UHS is always capable of ordering a new shipment the next day.

“We use Bexsero to immunize against Meningitis B. It is a four-part recombination protein that is derived from Meningococcus B,” he said.

Meningococcus is transmitted from person to person through kissing, sharing substances such as food or water and exchanging high quantities of saliva.

According to Corey, individuals who are non-susceptible can carry meningitis and not be harmed; however, once transferred to a susceptible individual—one who has not been vaccinated—that can lead to disease.

“For this condition there are many more carriers of the disease than those who actually have the disease,” Corey said.

According to Christina Wolff, a nursing student, as part of their clinical training, student nurses volunteered at the walk-in clinic. The student nurses were briefed on the procedures of the walk-in clinic and their roles by UHS staff at 10:45 a.m. Volunteering at the walk-in clinic counts toward the student nurses’ clinical hours.

Wolff said in just one day she had administered roughly 50 vaccines to students.

“It’s kind of a really good type of experience to see the whole perspective in emergency nursing,” Wolff said.

In terms of the safety, students who’ve been administered the vaccine generally feel safe.

“I don’t see the harm in it and it seems like a small 10 minutes out of my way to stop something that could be harmful,” Dylan Haley, a sophomore natural resource conservation major, said.

“I feel a little bit safer. I feel like with common ordinary hygiene, you know, like not kissing anyone or sharing food, [the vaccine] can be a little bit more of a safe guard,” Drew Miller, a freshman biology major, said.

According to Jeff Hescock, director of University Emergency Management and Business Continuity, the University of Massachusetts Department of Environmental Health and Safety provided logistics and operational support during the walk-in by working with key campus departments such as Information Technology, Auxiliary Services and faculty from Administration and Finance Systems.

The last day of the UHS walk-in clinic is Tuesday, December 5.

Alvin Buyinza can be reached at [email protected] and followed on Twitter @abuyinza_news.