Launches Immunization Program to Guard Students Against Meningitis
Oct. 21, 1999 -- To protect students from
meningitis, a serious and potentially fatal disease, as well as
the miseries of the flu, the University of Virginia will offer an
immunization program next week.
Department of Student
Health will offer both meningitis and flu vaccines on Tuesday,
Oct. 26, from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. The walk-in sessions will be held
at two locations, the Aquatic and Fitness Center and Newcomb Hall
year more than 500 students were treated for flu at the student
health department, according to Dr. James C. Turner, director of
the department, who chairs the American College Health Association's
task force on vaccine-preventable diseases. Many students miss classes
and exams, and a few suffer complications, such as pneumonia or
ear infections. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
recommend that college students receive flu vaccines.
meningitis affects the brain and spinal cord and can lead to permanent
disabilities, such as hearing loss and brain damage. A blood infection,
meningococcemia, can lead to kidney and heart failure and also result
in severe disability and death. The disease requires early and aggressive
treatment to prevent disabilities. Despite treatment, approximately
10 percent of those infected die each year.
still a rare disease, the number of meningitis cases nationwide
has risen in recent years. Outbreaks on college campuses have increased
during the 1990s.
CDC reports that freshmen living in dormitories are five times more
likely to develop meningitis than college students in general. More
than 600 cases among people aged 15 to 24 were reported in 1996,
twice as many as a decade ago.
of this trend, the American College Health Association (ACHA), which
represents about half of the nation's college health centers, recommends
that college students receive the meningitis vaccine. In addition,
on Oct. 20 the CDC recommended that college students, especially
freshmen residing in dormitories, consider getting the vaccine.
The vaccine protects against four of the five most common strains
of the bacteria that together account for more than 65 percent of
the meningococcal cases on college campuses.
bacterium causing meningitis is common and can be spread by sneezing,
coughing, kissing, and sharing drinking glasses, cooking utensils
or cigarettes. College students appear to be particularly susceptible
to the disease because they live, study and socialize in close quarters,
such as dormitories.
of college life, which may include smoking, socializing in bars,
alcohol consumption, lack of sleep, and frequent upper respiratory
infections, may contribute to college students contracting the disease,"
we've been recommending both vaccines for more than two years, we
wanted to take a more aggressive approach toward protecting U.Va.
students by conducting a vaccine program," said Turner, who
has mailed letters about the immunizations to parents of undergraduates,
faculty and departments across grounds. The letters contain information
sheets answering frequently asked questions about meningococcal
cases have occurred recently in the Northern Virginia-Maryland-Washington,
D.C., area. Although there have been no recent cases at U.Va., five
occurred during the 1995-96 school year.
student health department is promoting the immunization program
through ads, posters and mass e-mails.
of the meningococcal vaccine for students is $70; the flu vaccine
obtain more information, contact U.Va.'s student health department
at (804) 924-5362.
more information, contact James Turner at (804) 924-2670 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Ida Lee Wootten, (804) 924-6857