As the university enters winter break, University Health Services (UHS) advises students to be vigilant about meningococcal disease and strongly recommends that they get vaccinated if they haven’t already done so.
UHS plans to schedule another set of clinics early in the spring semester for students who need either their first or second shots. If students are near campus during winter break, they can contact UHS to schedule a vaccination appointment. UHS has provided the Meningitis B vaccine to more than 7,700 students, including 640 during the most recent set of clinics at UHS.
Vaccinations can be administered by your family physician. When you contact them to set up an appointment, let them know that UMass Amherst has an “outbreak” status from the Massachusetts Department of Public Health for Meningitis B. There are two different vaccines for meningococcus disease available, and your family doctor can administer either one. They can order them from the following companies:
1. To order Bexsero, your provider can call GSK at 866-475-8222
2. To order Trumenba, your provider can call Pfizer at 800-666-7248
If you already received your first shot of Bexsero during one of the vaccination clinics on campus, you can schedule with your family physician to receive your second dose of Bexsero during winter break. The second dose can be given any time 28 days after you received the first shot. It is important to receive the second dose to achieve full protection from meningococcal disease.
If you start either vaccine series during winter break and need to receive your second dose when you return for spring semester, University Health Services carries both Bexsero and Trumenba. You must continue with the same vaccine you started with.
Finally, students should continue observing the health smart tips that have been publicized to prevent the spread of meningococcal disease. These measures, recommended by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention include: Do not share anything that comes in contact with the mouth – water bottles, face masks, towels, drinking glasses or cups, eating utensils, cosmetics, lip balm, toothbrushes, smoking materials, kisses, or drinks from a common source. Also, please wash your hands, and cover your coughs and sneezes with a tissue or your sleeve.
If you have concerns or questions, please contact the UHS triage nurse at 413-577-5229.