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Department of Health, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and Providence College Coordinating to Organize On-Site College Vaccination Clinic

FEBRUARY 6, 2015

Department of Health, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and Providence College Coordinating to Organize On-Site College Vaccination Clinic

PROVIDENCE, R.I. – The Rhode Island Department of Health (HEALTH) announced swift action today in response to a second probable case of meningococcal meningitis at Providence College (PC). The student remains at a hospital in Rhode Island.

Coordinating closely with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and Providence College, HEALTH today announced a plan to provide a robust vaccination regimen to all students at PC.

The consensus recommendation from CDC officials, physicians and public health experts at HEALTH, an advisory board of infectious disease experts, FDA officials, and PC is that an appropriate next step to prevent the spread of meningitis B is to encourage students to receive this vaccination. HEALTH is organizing an on-site college vaccination clinic, which will take place as soon as the vaccine arrives on the PC campus.

Vaccinations are recommended for PC's roughly 3,800 undergraduate students, graduate students living on campus, and staff who are under 25 years old and/or have a suppressed immune system. Once the logistics of the clinic have been determined, Providence College will communicate that information to students and to its campus community.

"The spread of meningococcal disease can be stopped by good public health practices," said Michael Fine, M.D., Director of the Rhode Island Department of Health. "The first step of the response is well underway to provide all close contacts of these students with preventive antibiotics. The action we're taking today is an important next step to keep the PC community healthy."

The type of meningitis that has been confirmed in one of the students at Providence College is the serogroup (or type) B meningitis. People are vaccinated against other strains of meningitis when they are adolescents, but serogroup B (also called meningitis B) is not included in the routine vaccine given. However, there is a new meningitis vaccine that protects against meningitis B. HEALTH Department officials worked quickly to secure a cache of the newly-approved vaccines. A shipment of this vaccination is being delivered quickly and is expected to arrive in Rhode Island within the next few days. The FDA has confirmed the vaccine is safe and effective.

"We are extremely grateful to the Department of Health and to the CDC for their quick response in assisting us in dealing with this situation," said Rev. Brian J. Shanley, O.P., President of Providence College. "They have been of invaluable assistance in helping us obtain the necessary vaccine and with the logistics of setting up our vaccination clinic. I expect that we will have the first dose of the vaccinations complete as quickly as possible once we have the vaccine. Subsequent doses will follow at a later date."

"Meningitis does not spread easily from casual contact," said Doctor Utpala Bandy, the State Epidemiologist at the Rhode Island Department of Health. "There is no recommendation for the surrounding community to avoid contact with Providence College or Providence College students, no recommendation to cancel classes, and no recommendation to provide the vaccination more widely at this time."

Meningococcal meningitis is an infection of the lining that surrounds the brain and spinal cord. The bacterial infection is spread through direct secretions from the nose or mouth through activities such as kissing, sharing food, drinks, water bottles, toothbrushes, eating utensils, or cigarettes. Meningococcal disease can be treated with antibiotics, but quick medical attention is extremely important.

Providence College students are directed to call the Providence College Health Center at 401-865-2422 with any questions.

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