Vaccination effort kicks into high gear beginning March 2

February 28, 2015 - 1:43pm

Even before a large-scale vaccination clinic officially begins March 2, more than 3,000 UO students have already received meningitis B vaccines and no new cases of meningococcal illness have appeared in the past 10 days.

Thanks to efforts by Lane County Public Health and off-campus pharmacies working with the UO, there was a strong ramp-up in interest and vaccination to lead into the largest-ever effort of its kind in the U.S. to address a meningitis B outbreak.

The UO will open a four-day, large-scale vaccination clinic at Matthew Knight Arena starting March 2 and running through March 5. It will be open from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., with approximately 20 immunizers working throughout the 10-hour shifts and capacity expected to be between 2,500 and 5,000 students daily.

The UO has also worked with insurers and clinic partners Pfizer, Albertsons-Safeway and Walgreens to facilitate direct billing of insurance. Students can be direct-billed for vaccinations at Albertsons, Safeway and Walgreens pharmacies, and at the large-scale clinic beginning March 2.

According to Andre Le Duc, executive director of enterprise risk services, the university is committed to making sure that no student is unable to be vaccinated due to lack of insurance.

“There will be assistance with signing up for state-supported plans as well as other assistance and options available for those not eligible for the state-supported plans,” Le Duc said.

The vaccination – Trumenba — is a series that includes three shots, the first given now, the second two months later and the final six months later.  All three are needed to provide maximum immunity.

The UO is planning dates for follow-up vaccination clinics in May (confirmed as May 12 and May 13) and September (dates to be announced). In addition, students will be able to visit a Safeway, Albertsons or Walgreens pharmacy in Oregon and possibly nationwide for the second and third doses. Insurance coverage will extend to those immunizations too.

The mass vaccination clinic at Matthew Knight Arena is also serving as teaching and research opportunities.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Oregon Health Authority will ask students to voluntarily provide throat swabs to look for asymptomatic carriage of meningococcal bacteria. This is one of the first times that serogroup B vaccines have been used in an outbreak setting in the U.S., and this evaluation will allow the CDC to determine whether serogroup B vaccination reduces circulation of the bacteria that caused meningococcal illness among students at the UO.

In addition, up to 40 pharmacy students from Oregon State University will be assisting Safeway pharmacists during the UO clinic.

“Giving vaccinations has become a common part of the training for pharmacists, and it’s rewarding that we’re able to assist in this situation,” Lorinda Anderson, an OSU faculty member who manages the immunization initiatives for the College of Pharmacy, said in a news release. “The need for mass vaccinations such as this is really quite rare, and we’re glad we can help.”

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—By Julie Brown, Public Affairs Communications