Immunization/Vaccination

Effective August 31, 2009
Union Institute & University (UI&U) does not require that students or employees be immunized against any communicable diseases. UI&U students living outside the U.S. may be required to provide proof of immunization in order to qualify for temporary visas.

There are, at present, no Federal or state regulations requiring immunization of  adult citizens (i.e. individuals age 18 or older), although the National Immunization Program recommends certain vaccinations for adults. An overview of regulations in those states where UI&U operates academic centers follows.

Ohio

The Ohio Revised Code (ORC) Section 1713.55 states that an institution of higher education shall not permit a student to reside in on-campus housing unless the student discloses whether he or she has been vaccinated against meningococcal disease and hepatitis B by submitting a meningitis and hepatitis B vaccination status statement. Because UI&U has no on-campus housing, this statute does not apply to UI&U.

Vermont

Pursuant to 18 V.S.A. Section 1123, the Vermont Department of Health has promulgated regulations establishing minimum immunization requirements for attendance at public or independent postsecondary schools. Vt. Code. R. 13 140 021. The regulations exempt students whose instruction is provided in a non-campus-based setting like UI&U’s centers; therefore the regulations do not apply to UI&U students.

Florida

Florida’s Title 48, Chapter 1006, Section 1006.69 has a two part requirement. The first requirement, that colleges and universities obtain documentation of student vaccination, does not apply to UI&U, as UI&U students do not reside in on-campus housing. The statute also requires that postsecondary educational institutions “provide detailed information concerning the risks associated with meningococcal meningitis and hepatitis B and the availability, effectiveness, and known contraindications of any required or recommended vaccine to every student …who has been accepted for admission.” This required information is included below.

California

Subject to certain exceptions, California Health & Safety Code Section 120390.5 requires first-time enrollees at California public universities who are eighteen years of age or younger to provide proof of immunization against Hepatitis B as a condition of enrollment. This statute is not applicable to UI&U as it is a private institution.

INFORMATION ON MENINGOCOCCAL DISEASE - (Adapted from information provided by the Centers for Disease Control)
Meningococcal disease is a serious illness caused by bacteria. It is the leading cause of bacterial meningitis in children 2-18 years of age in the United States. Meningococcal bacteria can cause meningitis (inflammation of the lining of the brain and spinal cord) or sepsis (an infection of the bloodstream). Symptoms of meningitis include stiff neck, headache, fever, nausea, vomiting, confusion and drowsiness. Symptoms of sepsis include fever, shock and coma. Death from sepsis can occur within 12 hours of the beginning of the illness – meningococcal disease can be a rapid and overwhelming infectious disease. For these reasons, meningococcal infections that occur in childcare centers, elementary schools, high schools and colleges often cause panic in the community. Every year about 2,600 people in the United States are infected with meningococcus. Ten to fifteen percent of these people die, in spite of treatment with antibiotics. Of those who live, another ten percent lose their arms or legs, become deaf, have problems with their nervous systems, become mentally retarded or suffer seizures or strokes.

How do you catch a meningococcal infection?

Usually meningococcal infection is acquired after intimate contact with an infected person. Intimate contact includes kissing, sharing toothbrushes or eating utensils or frequently eating or sleeping in the same dwelling as an infected individual.

Who is at risk?

Anyone can get meningococcal disease, but it is most common in infants less than 1 year of age and in people with certain medical conditions. College freshmen, particularly those who live in dormitories, have a slightly increased risk of getting meningococcal disease. The risk for meningococcal disease among nonfreshman college students is similar to that for the general population; however, the vaccine is safe and effective and therefore can be provided to nonfreshmen undergraduates who want to reduce their risk for meningococcal disease.

What can be done to decrease risk?

The meningococcal vaccine can prevent four types of meningococcal disease. These include two of the three most common types in the United States. Meningococcal vaccine cannot prevent all types of the disease, but it does help to protect people who might become sick if they don’t get the vaccine. The vaccine is available through your physician.

What about the vaccine?

A vaccine, like any other medicine, is capable of causing serious problems, such as allergic reactions. You should not get the meningococcal vaccine if you have ever had a serious allergic reaction to a previous dose of the vaccine. Some people who get the vaccine may develop redness or pain where the shot was given, and a small percentage of people develop a fever. These symptoms usually last for one or two days. The risk of the meningococcal vaccine causing serious harm is extremely small. Getting meningococcal vaccine is safer than getting the disease. People who are mildly ill at the time the shot is scheduled and women who are pregnant can still get the vaccine. Those with moderate or severe illnesses should usually wait until they recover. Discuss the timing, risks and benefits of vaccination with your health care provider. For more information about the meningococcal vaccine access the Vaccine Information Sheet at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Web site (last accessed on July 6, 2009)

Although the need for revaccination with the current polysaccharide vaccine has not been determined, antibody levels rapidly decline in two to three years, and if indications still exist for vaccination, revaccination may be considered three to five years after receipt of the first dose. In February 2005 the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) to the CDC recommended the use of a newly licensed conjugate meningococcal vaccine for vaccination against meningococcal meningitis. The new vaccine was licensed by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in January 2005 for use in people 11-55 years of age. This conjugate meningococcal vaccine is effective in preventing the same four types of meningococcal disease as the polysaccharide meningococcal vaccine. Although the need for revaccination with the conjugate meningococcal vaccine has not been determined, antibody levels decline in 6-8 years and if indications still exist for vaccination, revaccination may be considered 6-8 years after receipt of the first dose.

HEPATITIS B

Hepatitis B is a serious disease 
Hepatitis B is a virus that affects the liver. It is one of several hepatitis diseases (for example, hepatitis A and hepatitis C) that are caused by different viruses but are similar in that they all attack the liver. The hepatitis B virus (HBV) can cause a short-term (acute) illness that leads to loss of appetite, stomach pain, tiredness, diarrhea, vomiting, jaundice (yellow skin or eyes) and pain in muscles and joints. These symptoms can last for several weeks. It can also cause a long-term (chronic) illness from which people never recover. A person might not look or feel sick, but he or she carries the hepatitis B virus in their blood for the rest of their lives and can infect other people with HBV. Chronic hepatitis B may cause liver damage (cirrhosis), liver cancer and even death. About 1.25 million people in the United States have chronic HBV infection. Each year 80,000 more people, mostly young adults, get infected with HBV and 4,000 to 5,000 people die from chronic hepatitis B.

How do you catch hepatitis B? 

HBV virus is spread through contact with blood or other body fluids of an infected person. You can catch the virus by having unprotected sex, by sharing drug needles or by sharing personal items such as razors and toothbrushes with someone who is infected. Babies of chronic HBV mothers can become infected during birth. Children can be infected through exposure to blood and other body fluids from infected children or adults.

Who is at risk? 

Anyone who participates in any of the behaviors listed above is at risk of acquiring hepatitis B.

What can be done? 

There are hepatitis B vaccines available that can prevent infection with HBV. Many physicians offer the vaccine to patients seen in their offices. These are the first anti-cancer vaccines, because they can prevent a form of liver cancer that can develop in a person who gets a chronic hepatitis B infection.

What about the vaccine? 

A vaccine, like any medicine, is capable of causing serious problems, such as allergic reactions. Most people who get hepatitis B vaccine do not have any problems with it. People who have ever had a life-threatening allergic reaction to baker’s yeast (the kind used to make bread) or to a previous dose of hepatitis B vaccine should not get the vaccine. People who are moderately to severely ill at the time the shot is scheduled should usually wait until they recover before getting the vaccine. Hepatitis B vaccine is very safe and the risk of it causing serious harm is extremely small. Hepatitis is a serious disease and getting the vaccine is safer than getting the disease. Discuss the risks and the benefits of vaccination with your health care provider. For more information about the hepatitis vaccine, access the Vaccine Information Sheet at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Web (last accessed on July 6, 2009).