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CSU considers implementing meningitis vaccine requirement for all students

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CSU considers implementing meningitis vaccine requirement for all students

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by Shauny Silas, Staff Writer

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Following a campus meningitis outbreak earlier in the semester, San Diego State is considering mandating that all students receive the Meningitis-B vaccine by the fall 2019 semester.

Three reported cases meningococcal meningitis since June 2018 prompted the San Diego County Department of Health and Human Services to declare an outbreak in September. There were also three reported cases of viral meningitis during the 2017-18 school year, and a student died of a bacterial strain of the disease in 2014.

Despite this, the Meningitis-B vaccine is not currently required by the California State University systemwide policy. University spokesperson Cory Marshall said discussions are currently underway about altering this policy, although they are only preliminary.

“Following continued conversations with the County of San Diego Health and Human Services Agency, and as part of our partnership with HHSA, San Diego State University is in preliminary discussions within the university about the possibility of adding the Meningococcal B vaccine to the set of required vaccinations for incoming students,” the email said.

Since the outbreak, the university has encouraged all undergraduate students ages 23 and under to get the vaccine if they haven’t already. In a Nov. 21 email to members of the SDSU community, Student Health Services Medical Director Cynthia Cornelius told students they are encouraged to get vaccinated, turn in their immunization records if they have already been vaccinated or sign a declination form indicating they understand the risks of meningitis but still have no intentions of getting vaccinated.

Marshall said many college students have already received the Menveo or Menactra vaccination as teenagers that protects from meningococcal diseases A, C, W and Y.

The university has engaged in numerous on-campus efforts to increase the number of vaccinated students. Two clinics were held in October at Viejas arena for students to receive the first vaccine in the series of two that are required. However, about 350 of the administered vaccines were later found that have been defective due to a temperature issue by Walgreens.

Television, film and new media freshman Cassidy Stahl said she believes the Meningitis-B vaccine should be required for all incoming students, especially after the trouble she went through this semester after being required to obtain the preventative pill when the outbreak was first declared.

“It was such a pain,” Stahl said. “I waited at least an hour for the preventative pill and then had to go to the Viejas arena to get the first vaccine. I’m going to get the second one from my own primary physician when I go home so it’ll be easier.”

Social work senior Jessica Michael said she hasn’t received the Meningitis-B vaccine and has no plans of getting one in the future.

“I don’t know if it should be mandatory, it should be your choice if you want to receive the vaccine,” Michael said. “I definitely think that the university should focus on the education and awareness of the disease for incoming students.”

Student Health Services is offering free after-hours clinics to students from 4:30 p.m. to 6 p.m., Monday through Thursday until Nov. 29. Students can also make an appointment during regular hours to receive the vaccination.

The meningococcal disease is spread by contact such as kissing, sharing cups, coughing and lengthy contact such as living in close quarters. Symptoms of the disease include fever, headache, stiff neck, nausea, vomiting and confusion.

A previous version of this story incorrectly stated the three reported cases from 2017-18 were bacterial meningitis and that only students under the age of 23 were encouraged to get vaccinated. The Daily Aztec regrets these errors.

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