University of California, Santa Barbara Student Health announced on Friday, Jan. 31, that the FDA has approved the use of the serogroup B meningococcal vaccine for the UCSB community. The vaccine will be administered at no charge starting Monday, Feb. 24.
The CDC recommends the following groups receive the vaccination that protects against meningococcal disease serogroup B: all undergraduates, University Immersion Program students, and a small number of faculty, staff, and graduate students who have certain medical conditions or who live in dormitory-style residence halls.
“The specified groups were recommended by the CDC to receive the vaccine because young adults and people with certain medical conditions are at increased risk of getting meningococcal disease, especially those who live in close quarters, such as dormitory-style residence halls,” Student Health Executive Director Dr. Mary Ferris said in an open letter to students.
The vaccine will be provided free of charge to groups eligible for the vaccine, and there will be a two-week vaccination clinic for the first dose, which will be available at the Multi-Activity Center (MAC) of the RecCen from 12 p.m. to 6 p.m. on Feb. 24 and 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Feb. 25 to 28 and March 3 to 7.
The vaccine requires two doses for a more complete protection. The second dose will be available in the spring.
“I believe the vaccine is an important preventative measure, but I am not in any hurry to get vaccinated due to my busy schedule,” said fourth-year psychology major Alex Sicaud.
The Student Health Office recommends that any students who cannot get the vaccine during the two-week clinic make separate arrangements with the Advice Nurses.
The new vaccination protects against meningococcal disease caused by serogroup B bacteria, the strain that caused the four cases just a few months ago. Though UCSB has not experienced further cases of meningitis since November, the CDC recommends the vaccine to help protect the community against meningococcal disease.
“Cases can be separated by several months before they reoccur,” said Ferris in a recent interview.
According to the CDC, the serogroup B meningococcal vaccine has not been approved for use in the United States except for to control a specific outbreak under an Investigational New Drug application. The CDC explains that the vaccination has been approved in the European Union, Canada, and Australia after thorough clinical trials demonstrating the vaccine’s safety and efficacy.
Concerned UCSB parent Leisa Cosentino plans to encourage her daughter to get the vaccine.
“I understand and appreciate that the FDA has a very rigorous testing procedure in place for all of its drugs and vaccines,” said Cosentino, “but feel that the current health issues in play at Princeton and UCSB merit immediate attention.”
UCSB Student Health strongly encourages that all students be vaccinated to stop the outbreak. Students receiving the vaccine should plan to bring their UCSB Access Card and should allot at least 45 minutes to attend the vaccine clinic. This time allotment is on account of forms to complete and sign before receiving the vaccine, wait times, and a 15-minute waiting period after receiving the vaccine for observation purposes.