Temple University offers free vaccine as mumps criss-cross campus
Plagued by an outbreak of mumps that has criss-crossed its Philadelphia campus, Temple University is holding free vaccine clinics on campus and will now require incoming students to verify they have had two doses of the MMR vaccine.
Mumps, a highly infectious, once common childhood disease, is relatively rare today thanks to the Measles, Mumps and Rubella, or MMR vaccine, which is administered to children. But experts say there are suggestions the immunizations may lose strength as people age, and college campuses, where students live in close proximity to one another, are the perfect place for such viruses to spread.
The symptoms of the disease include: fever, headache, muscle aches, fatigue, loss of appetite and a distinctive swelling of the salivary glands under the ears.
The outbreak at Temple, which has an enrollment of approximately 40,000 students, is the largest cluster of the disease in Pennsylvania. According to the Pennsylvania Department of Health, there have been only 16 confirmed and eight probable cases of mumps outside of Philadelphia this year. At least one of those cases, at nearby West Chester University just outside of the city, was traced back to contact the West Chester student had when he visited Temple.
Between Jan. 1 and Feb. 28, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control reported 151 cases of mumps in 30 states. A spokesman for the Allegheny County Health Department said there have been no cases of mumps reported in the county, which is home to nine colleges.
The American College Health Association strongly recommends that colleges require all students to have six vaccinations, including the MMR vaccine. But vaccine requirements can vary from one school to the next.
Temple spokesman Ray Betzner said Temple added the requirement that incoming students undergo two doses of the MMR vaccine March 12, as the outbreak at the school heated up. The University of Pittsburgh and Penn State both require students to have two doses of the vaccine.
According to the CDC, 92 percent of U.S. children had received the recommended two doses of the vaccine before age 3.
Temple health officers cautioned members of the university community who have had close contact with anyone showing symptoms of mumps and have never been vaccinated to get the full two doses of the MMR vaccine.
“If you have had close contact with someone symptomatic with the mumps and have previously received the MMR vaccine, the recommendation is to receive a third booster dose of the vaccine. The third booster dose is not recommended unless you have had close contact with a symptomatic person,” a fact sheet circulated on campus said.
Deb Erdley is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Deb at 724-850-1209, [email protected] or via Twitter .