How Are East Coast Universities Managing Mumps Outbreaks?
The mumps virus outbreaks at several east coast universities are being managed differently, depending on which state you attend class.
As an example, the state of North Carolina requires non-exempt students at all colleges and universities, public or private, to be immunized.
As of October 29, 2019, North Carolina is one of 45 states to allow religious exemptions, with 15 states allowing philosophical exemptions as well as religious, and 4 states do not allow either exemption, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
According to Elon University Dean of Students Jana Lynn Patterson on October 30th, ‘less than 1 percent of the student population is exempt from vaccinations.’
But, Elon’s under-immunized population has produced 7 mumps cases during the Fall 2019 academic year.
At Elon, if undergraduate students do not file their vaccination documentation, they will not receive their residence hall assignment, be able to attend orientation or class, until all requirements are complete.
Furthermore, ‘Elon students who fail to comply will result in administrative withdrawal from the university.’
According to the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services (NCDHHS), a medical exemption can be issued to a student if “a physician licensed to practice medicine in this State certifies that a required immunization is or may be detrimental to a person’s health.”
These medical exemptions include severe allergic reaction, severe immunodeficiency, and pregnancy.
However, religious exemptions, an exemption granted based on one’s religious beliefs and philosophical exemptions, an exemption granted because of personal, moral or other beliefs, are dependant on state legislation.
Students with a religious belief preventing them from receiving a vaccine may still attend school in the state of North Carolina “upon submission of a written statement of the bona fide religious beliefs and opposition to the immunization requirements,” according to the NCDHHS.
Religious exemptions to vaccination in North Carolina, unlike medical exemptions, do not require documentation from a religious leader and can be sent by the students’ parents or guardians, or the students themselves.
“If they want to have their pastor or whichever religious belief sign off on the exemption, it’s OK. Some of them get them notarized,” Dean Brannock said.
Across the east coast, several universities are reporting mumps cases. As of October 30, 2019, the following mumps virus outbreak information was available online:
- Clemson University, SC - 1 case
- College of Charleson, SC - 11 cases
- Ferrum College, VA - 5 cases
- High Point University, NC - 20 cases
- Lehigh University, PA- 1 case
- Moravian College, PA - 12 cases
Most colleges in the USA require the Measles, Mumps, and Rubella (MMR) vaccine series for all matriculated students.
However, the MMR vaccine prevents most, but not, all mumps cases.
The CDC says it’s important to note that even people who have previously had 1 or 2-doses of the MMR vaccine can still contract mumps.
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Previously, the CDC's Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices approved the 3rd dose of MMR vaccine for groups of people who are at risk because of an ongoing mumps outbreak.
From a USA perspective, between January to October 11, 2019, 48 states and the District of Columbia in the U.S. reported mumps infections in 2,618 people to CDC.
The CDC’s 2019 mumps data may be higher because of an influx of people from Mexico, and Honduras who were under-vaccinated for mumps.
As of September 6, 2019, immigration facilities reported 898 mumps virus cases in adults.
Mumps vaccine news published by Precision Vaccination