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Health / Safety

Why we want you to get the vaccine on Friday

November 3, 2010

We don't want another CSU student (or an employee) to die from this preventable meningococcal disease, which can be easily spread among college students who typically live, work, study, and socialize in a somewhat concentrated area.

Step up for the health of our community

Dr. Tony Frank encourages students and employees under age 30 to get the meningococcal vaccine this week.

People are always giving me a hard time about the length of my campus e-mails, so for those of you who don’t want to read any further, here’s the point of this one: I want students and any employees under age 30 to go in this week and get the meningococcal vaccine – it’s free this Friday at the Student Rec Center.

About two weeks ago, we lost a sophomore, Christina Adame, to meningococcal disease. While it’s not technically meningitis, this disease involves the same germs that cause meningitis, and that bacterium has been linked to four deaths in Larimer County in the last several months.

Many of us carry this bacterium around in our throats and don’t even know it, never even having any symptoms. But in the rare case that someone is susceptible to infection, the resulting illness can be very, very serious.

Cheap and convenient

We don’t want another CSU student (or an employee) to die from this preventable disease, which can be easily spread among college students who typically live, work, study, and socialize in a somewhat concentrated area. Because of Christina’s death and the number of recent cases in Northern Colorado, state health officials are now recommending that everyone under age 30 in the CSU community get vaccinated. As of this week, they’ve provided us with free vaccines to make this as cheap and convenient as possible for all of you in the high-risk age group.

So with this e-mail, I’m asking that you go in at your convenience and get the shot if you haven’t had it within the last three years.

The vaccines are already available at Hartshorn for about a $14 fee, but on Friday, we’ll be offering an open vaccination clinic from 10 a.m.-6 p.m. at the Student Recreation Center where you can get the shot for free. We’ve set up a simple online registration process that will allow you to walk in and avoid a lot of waiting in line.

Same advice I'd give to to my own family

Faculty and staff who are under 30 years old — and household members of students, faculty, and staff ages 2-29 — are also invited to take advantage of these free vaccines. If you’re over 30, you’re generally not considered in the high-risk group, but if you’re concerned, talk with your family doctor. Health-care providers throughout Fort Collins can provide the vaccine. (It’s not recommended for people over age 55.)

I’m sending this note today as CSU’s president, but also as a father of three daughters who are in the high-risk age group. The advice I’m giving to you is the same thing I’d tell my own family. I’m also a pathologist, and from that perspective, I want to be honest: The odds of you actually getting meningococcal disease are very low. And even if everyone on campus and in the City of Fort Collins gets a vaccination, we can’t guarantee that somebody else won’t get sick.

Vaccinations help slow down the spread

Still, these vaccinations will help slow down the spread of this bacterium until it loses its potency and no longer presents any real threat to the broader community. So even if the odds of you getting sick yourself are small, there’s a chance you could be saving someone else’s life by getting vaccinated now. We can’t require you to do it, but it’s the right thing to do.

For more information on what you need to do to get vaccinated, go to www.safety.colostate.edu. You can sign up now to register for a vaccination time. If you have questions and want to talk to someone about whether you or someone in your household should get the shot, call CO HELP at 1-877-462-2911 from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. weekdays and 9 a.m.-5 p.m. weekends.

Thanks for stepping up for the health of our community,

Dr. Tony Frank
President