Number of meningitis vaccines increases

Student demand for the meningitis vaccine increased at UW-Eau Claire after the disease caused two deaths here last year.

The number of meningitis vaccinations administered to students by Health Services rose from 35 to 500 students from the 2001 to 2002 academic year, said Laura Chellman, director of Health Services.

Although the demand on Health Services has increased, its policy regarding meningitis remained the same after last year’s deaths.

That policy is to educate incoming freshmen and their parents about the disease, Chellman said.

In addition, Health Services administers vaccines to incoming freshmen during summer orientations.

The number of vaccines administered during summer orientations also rose, although not as steeply as the number administered last year.

“We gave 50 vaccines in the summer of 2001, and over 200 this past summer,” Chellman said.

Menomune, the vaccine that protects against meningitis, is administered by Health Services for $70.

Meningitis, a viral or bacterial infection of the membranes covering the brain and spinal cord, affects about 3,000 Americans each year, with around 300 of those cases leading to death.

The disease is contracted through direct contact with a carrier, such as exposure to saliva, and is not contagious through normal contact, according to the University’s Health Services Web site on the disease.

Last year two students at UW-Eau Claire, Sean Coleman, a 19-year-old sophomore from Rib Lake, and Amber Krenz, a 22-year-old junior from Eau Claire, died of complications related to meningococcal disease.

“I was worried after the deaths last year,” junior Bennett Fraboni said. “But I realize it’s just a freak occurrence.”

Students are advised to call Health Services at 836-5360 for an appointment if interested in receiving the vaccine.