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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Doctors call for mandatory vaccination

Downey+Regional+Medical+Center+RN+Connie+Meinke+holds+a+syringe+filled+with+the+flu+vaccine+before+injecting+a+fellow+employee+on+January+17%2C+2013.+Like+many+hospitals+across+the+U.S.%2C+the+Downey%2C+California%2C+facility+is+preparing+for+the+flu+onslaught.+The+hospital+is+asking+all+of+their+employees+to+be+vaccinated.+%28Mark+Boster%2FLos+Angeles+Times%2FMCT%29
Mark Boster
Downey Regional Medical Center RN Connie Meinke holds a syringe filled with the flu vaccine before injecting a fellow employee on January 17, 2013. Like many hospitals across the U.S., the Downey, California, facility is preparing for the flu onslaught. The hospital is asking all of their employees to be vaccinated. (Mark Boster/Los Angeles Times/MCT)

According to Dr. Vandana Sinha of Hospice of the Valley, meningitis could pose a deadly threat on college campuses.

“Should meningitis appear at a college campus, it could be an extremely deadly outbreak,” Dr. Sinha said.

While meningitis is extremely rare, a meningitis outbreak occurred on the University of Oregon campus in January. According to Oregon Health Authority, “One case resulted in the death of a student from [Meningitis] on [Feb.] 17.” Colleges across the country, from University of California, Santa Barbara, to Princeton University, have had students contract the disease.

According to the UA Campus Health Service, “meningitis refers to an infection of the outer surface of the brain, and can be caused by a number of different bacteria and viruses.”

Dr. Sinha warns that at first, “symptoms will mimic a cold or flu, but the problem is that students won’t go see a health professional quickly enough to diagnose the disease.” As a result, “meningitis can cause hearing loss, kidney damage, brain damage, limb amputation, and even death,” Dr. Sinha said.

For Gilbert Dena, a senior studying psychology and Spanish, it all started with a headache during the summer between his freshman and sophomore years of high school. That headache turned into a four-night hospital stay and a spinal tap. Dena was diagnosed with meningitis.

After hospitalization, Dena was put through a treatment of antibiotics and was advised to stay in his room for a month while he recovered.

He mentioned playing football and keeping fit in the months prior to contracting meningitis.

“I lost a lot of strength, and my immune system was incredibly low,” he added.

Fortunately, meningitis can be avoided through vaccination. While the UA doesn’t currently require students to get the meningitis vaccine, Campus Health strongly recommends that any student living in university or Greek life housing get the vaccination.

While many students might have already received the standard meningitis vaccine, Dr. Sinha and Campus Health both recommend a booster shot to fully protect against the disease.

On June 24 and 25 the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices will meet in Atlanta, Ga., to discuss various vaccinations. Part of their duty is to determine whether they will add a recommendation to take a vaccine, and meningitis is on the agenda.

Recently, Campus Health director Dr. Harry McDermott wrote a letter to the ACIP urging the organization to adopt recommendations for the meningitis vaccine for adolescents and college students.

Whether the ACIP makes the recommendation remains to be seen, but pre-business freshman Robert Morgan isn’t taking any chances. He said he has already been vaccinated for meningitis, adding, “meningitis is incredibly awful, and by getting yourself vaccinated, you don’t have to worry about contracting such a debilitating disease.”

Dena said he believes that vaccination for meningitis prior to college should be mandatory and recommends that anyone get a vaccination. Dr. Sinha agreed, noting that vaccination is vital regardless of the ACIP’s endorsement.

Campus Health offers meningitis vaccines to all students currently enrolled at the UA. If you would like to schedule an appointment, reach their office at 520-621-2292

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