OSU "upping the ante" on vaccinations after 5th meningitis case

Oregon State University officials said they are adding vaccination requirements for students-at-risk to meningococcal after a 5th case was reported last Wednesday.

Posted: Nov 28, 2017 7:02 AM
Updated: Nov 28, 2017 10:26 AM

CORVALLIS, Ore. - Officials with Oregon State University (OSU) said they are "upping the ante" to fight the meningococcal outbreak after a fifth case was reported on Wednesday.

Over the weekend, approximately 42,000 e-mails were sent to students, families, and staff about the fifth case.

In the e-mail, officials wrote, "If you have not done so, we urge you immediately to be vaccinated for meningococcal B disease, which requires at least two doses to be effective. If you have started a vaccine series, it is important that you complete the series in the requisite time frame."

READ MORE: OSU confirms 5th meningitis case of the year

According to the CDC, 12 months have to pass without a reported case before the outbreak is considered over. The five cases of meningococcal were reported on:
- November 13, 2016
- November 16, 2016
- February 22, 2017
- October 27, 2017
- November 22, 2017

OSU Vice President Steve Clark said he believes their public education efforts are working because in the 5th case reported, it was a parent who noticed something was wrong.

"The student's family member, their mother was aware of the symptoms," he said, "I think you have meningococcal disease and took them to a hospital,' where they're being treated," Clark said.

Charlie Fautin, the deputy director of the Benton County Health Department, said the 5th case was reported right before Thanksgiving weekend.

"Meningococcal is so serious that when we receive those reports, we go into action right away and whether it is a weekend, whether it's a holiday, this is an all-hands-on-deck situation," Fautin said.

He described their process for investigating each reported case like detective work.

"We swing right into action. What we're trying to do is make sure that the diagnosis is correct and find out where the disease came from and interrupt transmission so no more people get sick," Fautin said.

Clark said OSU required all new and incoming students under the age of 25 to get vaccinated before they could enroll in winter term.

OSU junior Aridna Archibald said she transferred from a community college from Salem and almost couldn't enroll in classes because she was not vaccinated at the time.

When asked if she thinks the university is doing a good job of informing the public about meningococcal, she said, "I do. I actually have been receiving tons of emails. You can see all over campus when they're having their clinics so you know when you can go get the vaccine. When I went there, they were very helpful. They answered all my questions."

OSU will now place an academic hold and withhold grades from 3,000 students that are not vaccinated during winter term.

"The academic hold is one measure and we know that comes at some risk. We know students and their families want them to be in class. We do too. But it's essential for their own well-being that they be vaccinated," Clark said.

School officials said the student in the 5th reported meningitis case is in good condition and is expected to recover.

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