Clinics at Oregon State University’s Corvallis campus on March 8-9 vaccinated more than 1,800 students against type B meningococcal disease.
Officials say the clinics were a success, adding to about 650 vaccinations that had already been administered by OSU Student Health Services since last fall, and many more by local pharmacies and private physicians.
Work will continue to encourage vaccinations for the entire target group of 7,000 students considered at highest risk for this disease.
The mass vaccinations were necessary due to three cases of type B meningococcal disease involving OSU students within the past four months. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, those at highest risk include students age 25 and younger, who live in on-campus housing or are members of – or visit – fraternal living groups associated with the university.
“This was an excellent start in our efforts to vaccinate at-risk students and protect community health,” said Steve Clark, OSU vice president for university relations and marketing. “We’re going to continue our communication and outreach to students who have not yet been vaccinated and make sure they, and their families understand the importance of this two-part vaccine regimen, and that there’s still time to be vaccinated.”
Students can still receive the vaccines at the Student Health Center, Clark said, or through their medical providers.
For those not yet vaccinated, officials suggest that the university’s upcoming spring break could provide an opportunity to visit personal medical providers for students who may be traveling home. This may facilitate insurance coverage if the insurer requests that they get their vaccine in-network.
Health officials have recommended that all students be aware of the symptoms of this potentially fatal infection, which can include high fever, stiff neck, rash, headaches, exhaustion, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea.
Anyone who exhibits these symptoms should immediately visit Student Health Services in Plageman Hall on campus, at 108 S.W. Memorial Place, or call 541-737-9355. Student Health Services is open 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. For after-hour resources, immediately go to a nearby urgent care medical clinic or hospital emergency room.
While meningococcal disease is not highly contagious, it is transmitted through direct contact with droplets from coughing or sneezing; other discharges from the nose or throat; by sharing of eating and drinking utensils, smoking devices; or through intimate personal contact.
At the vaccination clinics, all students who received the vaccination were given wallet cards with vaccination details, such as the brand and potential side effects; and advised about follow-up steps that included clinics in mid- to late-April for the second dose required to ensure full effectiveness.
These clinics are a joint effort of OSU, the Benton County Health Department and the Oregon Health Authority.
“Every person who chooses to get vaccinated decreases not only their own vulnerability to this disease, but also helps to protect all of Beaver Nation,” said Charlie Fautin, deputy director of the Benton County Health Department. “If you have had one shot, don’t forget to complete your series in April. If you missed these clinics, go to Student Health Services or your provider and get started now.”
Insurance coverage complexities caused some delays for students at the clinics, but officials said no one was denied the vaccine due to insurance coverage, including students without insurance. OSU will continue to work with students and health partners to ensure that cost of the vaccine is not a barrier.