Vaccination proof required to register beginning fall 2007

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stop!University of South Alabama - Beginning next fall all students must have proof of measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccinations to attend the University.

"The student health center will be tracking it, and we will be holding up registration for those who have not provided verification," Beverly Kellen, practice director of Student Health, said.

In a step toward this new requirement, international students were required to submit MMR documentation as well as tuberculosis skin testing results this fall semester.

Vice President of Academic Affairs Patsy Covey said she believes the newly required immunizations are "more than justified."

"It really is standard practice with universities all across the nation to require immunizations," she said. "I would call it the standard of care and practice that we at the University of South Alabama should be subscribing to."

Kellen said most domestic students had the MMR vaccine during high school. "They will just have to give proof," she said. The MMR vaccine is $45 at Student Health but may go up to $50 next year, she said.

Dr. Kevin Green, an assistant professor in infectious diseases, said these vaccinations are extremely important for international students. "It is very likely that they did not get these as children in their home countries, and we don't want them taking anything back home," he said.

"We want to make sure that our international students are looked out for," Covey added.

Green seemed most concerned about measles because it is spread through very few particles. "One person with measles has the potential to infect lots of people," he said.

With close dorm room living spaces and small classroom environments, conditions such as measles and mumps can spread quickly, causing university- and community-wide epidemics.

"We haven't had any cases of measles, mumps or rubella here at South Alabama," Kellen said. "We did have one individual who we suspected maybe had mumps, but we asked that she go home for a while until her test results came back. They came back negative, but we just wanted to be safe."

"[These vaccinations are] highly recommended by the American College Health Association, and there has been a resurgence of mumps," Kellen said. "We don't really understand why, but last year there was an epidemic of mumps in Iowa and surrounding states."

From December 2005 to April 2006, over 300 cases of mumps were reported in Iowa, affecting mostly young adults and college students. This was the largest mumps epidemic since 1988.

Mumps, a viral infection of the salivary glands, is rare in the U.S. It causes swelling of the salivary glands in the cheeks and throat, and those infected may also experience fever, headache and sore throat. It is an airborne disease that has no treatment, but it usually goes away within a few days.

source - USA Vanguard