U of O Undergrads Getting Newly Approved Vaccine

Mar 2, 2015

Institutional response to the Meningococcal Group B outbreak at the University of Oregon has become a lesson in prevention.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have joined county and state authorities to coordinate the largest on-campus vaccination clinic in recent history. A campus-wide ad campaign uses the phrase "Get the Vax" to encourage students to show up at Matthew Knight Arena for the shot.

The newly approved vaccine for Meningococcal Group B is called Trumenba. It will be given in three doses, meaning a student vaccinated today will need a booster shot in three months and six months. Before the vaccine was licensed by the FDA, two other colleges, Princeton and University of Santa Barbara, used it. Oregon Health Authority's Dr. Paul Cieslak says the U of O's vaccination campaign stands apart.

Dr. Cieslak: "This is, I believe, the biggest one ever undertaken with this particular bacterium. And it’s the first one to be undertaken since licensure of the vaccine.”

Oregon Health Authority's Dr. Paul Cieslak (left) and Lane County Public Health officer Dr. Pat Luedtke discuss "mass vax" at U of O.
Credit Tiffany Eckert

The four students that make up the infection "cluster" at the U of O contracted Meningococcal Cero Group B.  Lane County's Senior Health Officer Dr. Pat Luedtke says at first, meningococcal disease looks an awful lot like flu. However, it gets very serious, very fast.

Dr. Luedtke: "You get life threatening kinds of symptoms. Your blood pressure drops. One of the key things that you see is as the bacteria attacks your blood vessels your blood vessels start to leak. And you get this leaking of blood into your tissues. So pretty characteristic rashes."

Public Health officials know Trumenba's manufacturer is watching this vaccination campaign closely. Dr. Ceislak says he can't say for certain if this community has seen the last of this disease.

Dr. Ceislak: "It's a conclusion that we can only arrive at in retrospect."