At Santa Clara University (SCU) during February 4th-6th and 8th, public health staff administered 4,923 doses of meningococcal B vaccine – which protects against the serogroup B strain of meningococcal infection – were provided to students ‘for free’.
Three SCU students became ill on Sunday January 31st, and were confirmed to be infected with the bacteria Neisseria meningitidis [nye-SEER-ee-ah men-in-JIT-teh-dis], serogroup B. Two of the ill students developed meningitis as a result of their bacterial infection, while a third developed septicemia (a blood infection). All three students have been (treated and) discharged from the hospital in good condition.
Four vaccination clinics were set up on the SCU campus as an urgent cooperative effort between SCU and the SCCo Public Health Department (PHD), with assistance from the California Department of Public Health (CDPH). Using federal funds from the Section 317 Immunization Program administered by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, CDPH provided approximately 5,000 doses of the vaccine for the purpose of outbreak response and control. CDPH will provide an additional 5,000 doses next month, when students return for their second dose in the two-dose vaccine series. The retail cost of each dose is usually $160 (therefore 5,000 doses = $800,000).
SCU President Michael Engh, S.J. said, “We are extremely grateful for the leadership and professional expertise of the Santa Clara County Public Health Department. They have been invaluable professional partners in managing the situation on campus. Our students are our number one priority, and the County has been right there with us helping to ensure the health and well-being of our student body.”
All costs incurred were underwritten by federal, state, and county program budgets which is why all vaccine inoculations were administered “for free”. This public health response is a demonstration of ‘your tax dollars at work’ on your behalf.
While many SCU students had long wait times to receive their vaccination, the scale and speed with which the meningococcal vaccination clinics were set up was unprecedented. “We are very impressed with how quickly the vaccine was offered to students. This vaccine is a new tool used to protect against serogroup B meningococcal disease,” said Dr. Rana Hajjeh, Director of CDC’s Division of Bacterial Diseases.
These clinics would not have been possible without the dedication of dozens of Santa Clara County and SCU staff and volunteers who worked many hours of overtime, including during evenings and weekends. “The short amount of time—less than 48 hours—between the confirmation of this (meningitis) outbreak and the start of mass vaccination clinics set a national record for this disease. ”I am very proud and grateful to think of the talent, dedication and sheer grit required to make these (four) clinics happen,” said SCCo Health Officer, Dr. Sara Cody. “Hats off to the staff of SCU and SCCo Public Health Department (employees).
All expenses incurred were underwritten by federal, state, and county public health program budgets which is why all vaccine inoculations were administered “for free”. This public health response is a demonstration of ‘your tax dollars at work’ effectively and efficiently on behalf of this community.