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Student Right to Know:
Florida State Immunization Update

Dear Student:

In 2003 the Florida Legislature passed Florida Statute 1006.69, which requires all postsecondary educational institutions to provide students with detailed information about meningococcal meningitis and hepatitis B.

Hepatitis B and Meningococcal Vaccine Information

Although College of Central Florida does not require vaccination against meningococcal disease or Hepatitis B for students, we strongly encourage everyone attending the College to be aware of the symptoms, risk factors, preventative measures and cure for these diseases.

Meningococcal Disease:

College students have been found to be at an increased risk for meningitis. The bacteria are spread by respiratory secretions and direct contact with an infected person.
An acute bacterial disease, characterized by sudden symptoms of fever, intense headache, nausea and often vomiting, stiff neck and frequently a petechial (small purplish red spots) rash which may appear pink in color. Symptoms may mimic Influenza, however Influenza rarely has vomiting or other gastrointestinal symptoms. Approximately 2500 to 3000 individuals are diagnosed with Meningococcal disease in the United States annually. Most cases seem to occur in the late winter to early spring. Although Meningococcal disease is primarily seen among very small children, this disease occurs commonly in children and young adults. College students particularly whom reside in dormitories may be at increase risk for Meningococcal disease. The general population may have an incidence of 1.1 per 100,000 while those students in dormitories have a rate of 3 to 5 cases per 100,000.

Transmission occurs by direct contact, including droplets from the nose and throat of infected persons. The exchange of salvia by kissing, sharing of food utensils, and sharing cigarettes is the most common modes of transmission among college students.

Before early diagnosis, modern therapy and supportive measures the death rate exceeded 50%. The vaccine is administered with 1 dose for individuals = 2 years of age. The following individuals should not be vaccinated with this vaccine if:

  • They had a serous allergic reaction to a previous dose of this vaccine
  • Individuals who are mildly ill at the time of scheduled Meningococcal vaccine

Hepatitis B:

The Hepatitis B Vaccine is given in a series of 3 shots, most commonly given over a period of six months. This vaccine is considered one of the safest vaccines ever developed. It is not a live virus, so there is not chance of contracting hepatitis from the vaccine. Among the possible side effects are mild arm soreness and fatigue, headache, or fever.

Hepatitis B is a virus that infects the liver. With this disease signs and symptoms occur in about 30 to 50% of patients infected. Only 30% have jaundice (yellowing of the skin and whites of the eyes). Children under the age of 5 rarely have symptoms of hepatitis. When and if symptoms occur, patients may show signs of jaundice, fatigue, abdominal pain, loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, and joint pain. Some patients will become chronically infected with Hepatitis B. This will occur in up to 90% of children born to mothers who are infected, 30% of children infected at 1-5 years, and 6% of persons infected after age 5. Death from chronic liver disease occurs in 15-25% of chronically infected persons.

1.5 million individuals are chronic carriers of Hepatitis B in the United States. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that approximately 5% of the world's populations are chronically infected with Hepatitis B. One million die from Hepatitis B worldwide each year. Some countries particularly in the African American and Asian continents may have > 10% of population chronically infected with Hepatitis B. In the United States 80 to 100 thousand become infected and approximately 5000 die annually from Hepatitis B.

Risk factors for Hepatitis B are individuals whom have multiple sex partners or diagnosis of sexually transmitted diseases, men who have sex with men, sex contacts of infected persons, injection drug users, household contacts of chronically infected persons, infants born to infected mothers, infants/children of immigrants from areas with high rates of Hepatitis B, some health care workers, and hemodialysis patients.

The following individuals should not be vaccinated with this vaccine if:

  • They have ever had a life threatening allergic reaction to baker's yeast (used to make bread)
  • A severe allergic reaction to previous dose of Hepatitis vaccine
  • Individuals who are moderately or severely ill at the time of a scheduled vaccine with Hepatitis B (they should wait until they recover from the condition).

Individuals who take these vaccines should have few if any side effects. These diseases are always much more severe than the vaccine. A few individuals may experience:

  • Soreness and/or redness where the shot was administered, lasting a day or two
  • Mild to moderate fever, again lasting a day or two
  • Severe reaction is extremely rare!

Pregnant women and students who are ill should not receive the Hepatitis B vaccine.

Check with your family physician or local health department about receiving your vaccination.

Reference:
CDC. Prevention and Control of Meningococcal Disease: Recommendations of the Advisory Committee on Immunizations Practices (ACIP), MMWR June 30, 2000: 49 (RR-07); 1-10

Immunization Action Coalition www.immunize.org

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