Public Health

About public health

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Meningitis update

January 18, 2018

It's important that undergraduate students receive their second dose of meningococcal vaccine; or their first dose if they haven't received it yet.

UHS has scheduled walk-In meningococcal B vaccination clinics for students. Remember to bring your insurance card and documentation of vaccination if you received a dose at home. If you can't make it to a walk-in clinic, call (413) 577-5101 for an individual appointment. More about meningitis vaccinations.

Walk-In clinics

  • Saturday, Jan. 27, noon – 4 p.m., UHS room 302
  • Tuesday, Jan. 30, 11 a.m. – 3 p.m., Campus Center room 163
  • Thursday, Feb. 1 11 a.m. – 2 p.m., Berkshire Dining Commons
  • Wednesday, Feb 7, 3 – 6 p.m., UHS room 302
  • Thursday, Feb. 8, 10 a.m. – 2 p.m., Commonwealth Honors College events hall

Meningitis update

Meningitis vaccination information graphicDecember 20, 2017

UHS plans to schedule another set of meningitis B vaccination clinics early in the spring semester for students needing either their first or second shots. UHS provided the meningitis B vaccine to more than 7,700 students, including 640 during the most recent set of clinics at UHS.

If you're near campus during winter break, you can contact UHS for a vaccination appointment.

Vaccinations can also be given by your family physician. When you contact them to set up an appointment, let them know that UMass Amherst has a meningitis B “outbreak” status from the Massachusetts Department of Public Health. There are two different vaccines for meningococcal disease available; your family doctor can administer either one. They can order them from the following companies:

  • To order Bexsero, your provider can call GSK, 866-475-8222
  • To order Trumenba, your provider can call Pfizer, 800-666-7248

If you already received your first shot of Bexsero at a campus vaccination clinic, you can schedule your second dose of Bexsero with your family physician during 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 another dose when you return for spring semester, UHS carries both Bexsero and Trumenba. You must continue with the same vaccine you started with.

Vaccination details

UHS recommends that students at the highest risk receive serogroup B vaccination. UHS is offering Bexsero, a two-dose series. The second dose will be given after one month.

Those at highest risk include:

  • all undergraduates
  • graduate students living in undergraduate housing, and
  • all students with conditions such as asplenia, a complement deficiency, sickle cell anemia or those taking the medication Solaris. This includes both on-campus and off-campus students.

CDC protocols do not consider faculty and staff to be within this risk group, except for those with the conditions listed above. Faculty and staff who are concerned about exposure to meningitis or are interested in being vaccinated are encouraged to contact their primary care provider.

Get detailed information about serotype B meningococcal vaccine. This fact sheet has more information about meningococcal disease and college students.

Important insurance information

Because this situation is an outbreak, your health insurance or prescription plan should cover this vaccination; UHS will take steps to bill your insurance. In any case, undergraduate students will be vaccinated, no matter the ability to pay. Students will not incur any costs associated with co-pays, deductibles or insurance denials.

  • Before being vaccinated, students or  family members are encouraged to contact their private insurance provider regarding coverage of the vaccine. When speaking with your insurance provider, it's important to mention that the UMass Amherst campus has designated "outbreak status" from federal and state public health officials.
    • Consolidated Health Plan, the university-sponsored health insurance, will cover the cost at 100%, with no pre-authorization or referral required.
  • Many insurance companies will require that your primary care provider obtain a pre-authorization number. Please try to contact your provider before being vaccinated.
  • Download and fill out the referral request form and bring it with you.
  • Bring your insurance card with you.

More information

Updates, frequently asked questions and details about insurance will be posted at

Read the full December 7 update, November 28 updateNovember 16 updateNovember 15 update, November 14 update or the October 26 notice to the campus community. Parents: Get the latest information by joining the Parent Services email list.

About public health

UHS' Public Health department provides information, preventive services and monitoring for communicable illnesses that can impact the campus community and beyond.

These include:

Flu | Mumps | Meningococcal disease | Mononucleosis | Measles | Zika

About flu

Don't let flu bug U graphic

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommend that everyone over the age of six months be vaccinated against flu. 

The UMass Amherst campus community can get vaccinated at  walk-in flu clinics, by appointment at UHS, or during a scheduled visit. For appointments, call (413) 577-5101. Costs are billed to your health insurance; bring your insurance plan's ID card with you.

Learn more about flu, ways to stay healthy, and what to do if you're sick on the CDC website.

graphic of a person covering their coughAbout mumps

Mumps is a contagious illness caused by a virus that lives in the mouth, throat and nose.

Symptoms can include swollen cheeks and jaw,  fever,  headache, stiff neck and loss of appetite. These can appear  12 – 25 days after contact with an infected person. If you have any symptoms that suggest mumps, avoid public activities and call UHS' Triage Advice Nurse, (413) 577-5229.

Most young adults and children have had two doses of the MMR (measles, mumps, rubella) vaccine. Vaccination prevents many, but not all, cases of mumps. If you're not sure whether you've been vaccinated, contact your primary care provider.

Get more information from the Massachusetts Department of Public Health.

About meningococcal disease

Meningococcal illnesses can be caused by a bacteria called Neisseria meningitidis. The germ can sometimes cause meningitis, an infection of the tissue that covers the brain and spinal cord, or sepsis, an infection of the blood. These illnesses are often severe, and may be deadly.

The bacteria typically spreads through close personal contact such as coughing, sharing drinks and kissing. Casual contact, or simply breathing the air where an ill person has been, does not spread the bacteria.

The most common symptoms include fever, headache and stiff neck. There are often additional symptoms, such as nausea, vomiting, light sensitivity and confusion or other altered mental status.

See a healthcare provider immediately if you think you may have symptoms of meningococcal disease.

Get more information on the CDC website.

About mononucleosis

Mononucleosis (or "mono") is a contagious viral disease common among teens and young adults. It spreads most commonly through contact with bodily fluids, including saliva, blood and semen.

Symptoms typically appear four to six weeks after you've been infected, and  include extreme fatigue, fever, sore throat, head and body aches, swollen lymph nodes in the neck and armpits, swollen liver or spleen or both, and rash.

Get more information on the CDC website.

About measles

Measles is caused by a virus that spreads easily from person to person. At first, it looks and feels like a cold or flu. A cough, high fever, runny nose, and red, watery eyes are common. A few days later, a red, blotchy rash starts on the face, then spreads to the rest of the body. It usually lasts a week or two.

Learn more with this fact sheet from the Massachusetts Department of Public Health.

About Zika

UHS advises travelers to be aware of Zika virus and take appropriate precautions.