Oregon State University held a mass vaccination clinic in the student union on Wednesday in response to a recurrence of meningococcal disease on the Corvallis campus.
Nurses from OSU Student Health Services and pharmacists from the School of Pharmacy administered shots throughout the day for strain B, the particular form of the disease responsible for infecting four students since November 2016.
Meningococcal disease primarily afflicts young people and can spread in group living situations such as dormitories, fraternities and sororities.
For some time now, OSU has required all incoming students aged 25 or younger to receive a quadrivalent vaccine for four of the most common types of meningococcal disease, but strain B is not among them.
The university has started requiring that shot as well and will continue to do so until the current outbreak is over, said Dr. Jeff Mull, medical director of OSU Student Health Services.
“We’re trying to get them all immunized,” he said. “They’re the ones most at risk of acquiring the disease, mainly because they’re (often) living in group housing.”
All three students who fell ill last winter have recovered, and the student in the most recent case, reported on Oct. 27, has been released from the hospital and is recovering at home, according to university officials. None of the students has been publicly identified because of federal privacy laws.
OSU and county health workers have been contacting individuals who may have been in close contact with the infected students and giving them antibiotics to ward off the disease.
University officials have also been communicating to students about the importance of going to the doctor right away if they develop symptoms of meningococcal disease, which can be fatal if untreated.
In its early stages, the disease can mimic a cold or the flu, Mull said, but some of the more telltale signs include a high fever, persistent headache and stiff neck.
“We want people to know what symptoms to look for and when to seek medical care,” he said.
A second vaccination clinic for OSU students has been scheduled for 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Nov. 21 in the Journey Room of the Memorial Union, 2501 SW Jefferson Way. The strain B and quadrivalent meningococcal vaccines will be offered, as well as immunizations for other communicable diseases such as measles, mumps and rubella; chickenpox; hepatitis; and tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis.