7,000 UMass students vaccinated against Meningitis B

  • George Corey, director of university health services at UMass Amherst, speaks Nov. 14, 2017 at a press conference on campus regarding two students recently diagnosed with meningitis.

Thursday, December 14, 2017

AMHERST — Some 7,000 students have received a Meningitis B vaccine on the University of Massachusetts Amherst campus after two cases of meningococcal disease were discovered on campus recently.

Of the 7,000 to receive the vaccine, 5,500 did so at one of the university’s four large-scale clinics last week, according to George A. Corey, executive director of university health services. The university has been encouraging all of its more than 20,000 undergraduates to get vaccinated.

“While these efforts have reduced the risk for a substantial portion of campus, we must build upon this initial success,” Corey said in a statement to the campus community.

To that end, the university is setting up walk-in vaccination clinics ahead of the fall semester’s end, Corey said. Remaining clinics will take place in room 302 at university health services on the following days:

Friday, Dec. 15, 9 to 11:30 a.m. and 1 to 4 p.m.

Monday, Dec. 18, 9 to 11:30 a.m. and 1 to 4 p.m.

Tuesday, Dec. 19, 9 to 11:30 a.m. and 1 to 4 p.m.

“We hope to vaccinate as many of our undergraduate students as possible, and that’s why we are continuing vaccination outreach,” said university spokesman Ed Blaguszewski when asked how many undergraduates the school hopes to vaccinate. “We are also strongly encouraging students to get vaccinated during the winter break, and will try to develop an estimate after spring classes start about how many students took that action.”

State and university health services determined that the two cases of meningococcal disease were an outbreak after testing by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention determined that the two ill students contracted the same strain. The university has prophylactically treated people who were in close contact with the infected students with antibiotics.

The two infected students are currently recovering, according to Corey’s statement. According to a GoFundMe page set up by one student’s fraternity, the student infected on Oct. 24 was at risk of losing skin, toes or feet.

Dusty Christensen can be reached at dchristensen@gazettenet.com.