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2000-2001

WPI To Offer Meningitis Clinic for Students

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE/Sept. 22, 2000
Contact: WPI Media Relations, 508-831-5616

WORCESTER, Mass. - Worcester Polytechnic Institute has made arrangements through VACCESSHealth, a Pennsylvania-based corporation, to provide a meningitis and influenza clinic for students Oct. 4.

"Meningitis and its vaccine have been in the news lately, and although we do not require it, we strongly recommend it," said Jo Ann Van Dyke, director of the WPI Health Center. "Having the clinic here on our campus offers the opportunity for our students to protect themselves and obtain the vaccine at reasonable rates without having to leave the campus. We are tying it in with receiving the influenza vaccine and hope to protect them from both."

Outbreaks of meningitis have become a concern on college campuses, leading to a recommendation by the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that colleges and universities provide information about the disease and the benefits of vaccination to college freshmen. Further, the committee recommends that immunization should be provided or made easily available. Returning students who have not been vaccinated can also choose to protect themselves from the disease, according to the ACIP.

While the reasons for meningitis outbreaks are not fully understood, studies suggest that college students may be more susceptible because they live and work in close proximity to one another in dormitories and classrooms. The highest incidence of the disease occurs during late winter and early spring. Meningitis can lead to kidney and heart failure and can result in severe disability and death. Twenty percent of patients die from the infection. It is spread by direct contact with infected individuals-by sharing a glass or cigarette, for example, or kissing-or through the air by coughing or sneezing.

A recent Associated Press article noted 100 to 125 college students contract meningitis annually, resulting in five to 15 deaths and another five to 15 serious disabilities such as deafness, brain damage or loss of limb.

WPI's Oct. 4 clinic will run from 1 to 7 p.m. in Alden Memorial Hall at a cost of $75 for the meningococcal vaccine and $10 for the flu vaccine. For more information, contact Van Dyke in the WPI Health Center at 508-831-5520 or VACCESSHealth at 1-877-482-2237.