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Princeton begins meningitis B vaccinations

Dr. Sapna Parikh reports from Princeton.
December 9, 2013 4:19:17 PM PST
Students at Princeton University got their first chance Monday to get a meningitis vaccine after a recent outbreak.

Since March, seven Princeton students and one student visitor came down with bacterial illness.

"The process was more efficient than in expected. The line when I got there was extremely long, but I was in and out within 30 minutes," said Michael Katz, a junior.

Michael Katz is one of the first students at Princeton University to get the new meningitis vaccine called Bexsero, unlike the typical meningitis vaccine this one protects against the B strain of the bacteria that's more common abroad, but has already sickened eight people on the New Jersey campus.

"Thankfully, none of the cases here have been fatal, but it's fatal in 10 to 15 % of the cases," said Dr. Thomas Clark, Chief of Meningitis Division of CDC.

For the next four days, the school will vaccinate up to 6,000 students at no cost, focusing only on students living in dorms and faculty with certain medical conditions, like sickle cell anemia.

"The mood was calm, I was expecting people to be more panicked," said Jasmine Edelstein, a senior.

Jasmine Edelstein just got the vaccine.

"They ask if you have questions, they're not trying to speed you through it," Edelstein said.

But the vaccine is controversial because although approved in Europe, Australia, and most recently Canada, it's not approved in the U.S.

"I'm personally a little concerned about side effects, but it seems safe, the university recommends it," said Christina Yu, a senior.

Top health officials granted special approval for this outbreak and are on campus reassuring students that it's worth it.

"We know 99 to 100% of people that get this vaccine get antibodies that we consider protective and there's an excellent safety profile with this vaccine," Dr. Clark said.

There's no word yet on when or if the vaccine will be fully approved in the United States. It is a two-part vaccine that means they'll be repeating this process in February for round two.

For more information please visit:

http://www.princeton.edu/main/news/archive/S38/54/97E78/index.xml?section=announcements

http://web.princeton.edu/sites/emergency/meningitis.html


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