The student media organization of California State University Northridge

Daily Sundial

The student media organization of California State University Northridge

Daily Sundial

The student media organization of California State University Northridge

Daily Sundial

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Klotz offers meningitis vaccines

The Klotz Student Health Center will continue to give out free doses of the meningococcal vaccine, Menactra, during its scheduled walk-in hours until Thursday, Sept. 21. Until then, the vaccine will be free of charge for students 19 years of age and younger, said Sharon Aronoff, health educator for the health center.

Students 20 years of age and older may also receive the vaccine for $95 by appointment only.

The health center is making the vaccine available especially for college freshmen living in dormitories since they are at an increased risk for meningococcal disease, said Aronoff. The vaccine is being provided by the Los Angeles County Immunization Program.

“We’re thrilled to have it and make it available to students,” said Aronoff of the vaccine. “It has been cost-prohibited in the past.”

Jeri Landon, registered nurse and clinic support coordinator, said the vaccine is normally hard to find in California and only reserved for high-risk populations.

“We strongly encourage everyone living in the dorms to get vaccinated,” said Landon. “As long as the free doses are available, the health center will continue to give them out by appointment only after Sept. 21.The vaccines will be returned back to the L.A. County if students do not take advantage of them.”

Meningitis is the most common form of meningococcal disease, which is caused by an infection of bacteria in areas surrounding the brain and spinal cord. The meningococcal vaccine can protect against four of the five most common forms of bacteria that cause the disease, said Aronoff.

An estimated 100 cases of the disease occur on U.S. college campuses every year, according to information from the Department of Health Services that is available at the health center.

Students who live with other people in apartments, or hang out in fraternity and sorority houses, should also be vaccinated, said Aronoff.

“It’s not so much age, but a lifestyle issue,” said Aronoff. “College students party often, sharing drinks and kissing. Some don’t even clean the dishes in the sink.”

Although students are not required to get the meningococcal vaccine before moving into CSUN housing, it is strongly encouraged. Information about meningococcal disease is contained in the housing licensing agreement and students must indicate and sign whether or not they intend to get vaccinated, said Corvin Courtney of Residential Life and University Conferences.

“I would protect myself if I were a housing student,” Courtney said.

Vanessa Mendoza, freshman business administration major, lives in on-campus housing and is eligible for the vaccine, but she didn’t know that it was free.

“My aunt was telling me I should get it and I thought about it before,” said Mendoza. “I didn’t want to pay $95 when I have other costs to worry about.”

Iesha Higgins, a resident adviser in Chanterelle Hall, said the vaccine should be free to all students living in housing since they are all at an equal risk.

Higgins went to the health center when she first heard about the vaccine as a resident adviser, but since she is 21, she was told she would have to pay, she said.

“There are a lot of people over the age of 19 living in the dorms,” said Higgins. “Ninety-five dollars is a little steep for a college budget.”

Students who are deterred by the cost of the vaccine still face the same risk.

“A parent called recently to let (CSUN) housing know her daughter might have meningitis,” said Courtney.

Details, such as if the student thought she was exposed through housing or not, could not be provided by Courtney, who immediately forwarded the call to Toni Aho of Residential Life.

“It was a viral situation related to one person’s experience,” said Aho in a phone interview. “It’s not the same kind of meningitis and not related to the vaccine. There has been no report of meningococcal disease.”

Unlike the measles, there is no outbreak of meningococcal disease, but “who knows who could be that one (person who has it),” said Landon.

“There are not a lot of serious illnesses that can be prevented with a vaccine,” said Landon.

Students who receive the meningococcal vaccine can expect to be vaccinated only once unless exposed to the disease later on in life, said Landon.

“Think of (the vaccine) as an insurance policy,” said Aronoff. “You hope you never need it, but you have it in case you need it.”

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