Instead of relying on University Health Services to provide the required second dosage for the meningitis vaccine, UHS is asking University of Wisconsin students to look to their private health care providers.
In October, the UW campus saw a third case of meningitis, which officially qualified for the Center for Disease Control’s three person definition of an outbreak, although university officials never labeled the cases as an outbreak.
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Meningitis causes the brain and spinal cord to become inflamed. In certain cases, especially if left untreated, the virus can result in death.
Federal outbreak funding made available to the Wisconsin Department of Health Services provided the first round of vaccines, Sarah Van Orman, executive director of UHS, said.
“We were fortunate to get that funding and the vaccines at that cost,” Van Orman said.
But when it came to planning for the second round of vaccines, Van Orman said the funding was “unexpectedly unavailable.”
Despite the setback and inability to guarantee the second dosage, Van Orman said UHS is working closely with Wisconsin DHS and health systems across the state to see how students can get the second dose.
Van Orman said UHS recognized a vast majority of students have access to the vaccines through their private health insurance plans. Given that the semester is ending and students will soon be leaving campus for winter break, she said students will be able to get the second dosage through their health care plan at home.
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“In strategizing with the health department, we really want to encourage students to get in contact with their health insurance provider, go to their local pharmacy and get that second dose when they’re home over winter break,” Van Orman said.
For students without health insurance, Van Orman said UHS has vaccines available for them.
While UHS is not verifying if students requesting the second vaccine actually have health insurance or not, she encourages those with no providers and no access to the vaccine to come to UHS to get it.
“If you’re having any problems, let us know,” Van Orman said. “Get that vaccine.”