UC Santa Barbara to offer meningitis vaccine to students

Health authorities are recommending that UC Santa Barbara students be inoculated against a strain of meningitis that infected several young adults at the seaside campus and caused an outbreak at Princeton University.

University officials said Friday that the federal Food and Drug Administration has approved the use of the serogroup B meningococcal vaccine, which is licensed for use in Europe, Canada and Australia but not in the U.S.

Four Santa Barbara undergraduate students became infected with meningitis in November. Princeton University experienced an outbreak of a similar strain, with eight students getting sick since March.

The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention had won approval to use the imported vaccine at Princeton and subsequently submitted an application for UC Santa Barbara.

“The campus has not had any additional cases of meningitis since November; however, the CDC is recommending the vaccine to help protect the community,” said Mary Ferris, executive director of student health services.

Meningitis is a serious bacterial infection that causes inflammation of the membranes surrounding the brain and spinal cord. It can cause long-term damage and death. Young adults living in close quarters such as dormitories are especially at risk of contracting the disease.

The vaccine is being recommended for all undergraduates as well as faculty, staff and graduate students who have certain medical conditions.

The campus will hold a two-week vaccination period from Feb. 24 to March 7.

Students are also being urged to watch their personal hygiene, such as by washing their hands ofte, and avoiding the sharing of drinking glasses and utensils.


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