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Thursday, February 12, 2015
Vaccinations to be Mandatory for College Admission?
As I write this blog, the number of reported cases of measles in California has risen to over 100. What began as an isolated outbreak at Disneyland back in December has begun to unfold into a serious public health concern. Measles is airborne and highly contagious, which means that the threat of its spread is a very real possibility.
The outbreak has seen the long-simmering vaccine debate explode to the surface. Parents of young children are most concerned since the measles vaccine is not administered until age one, with a booster again around age four. It makes sense that schools and daycares are petri dishes for the sharing and spread of illness. Apparently, college campuses are not far behind.
Since vaccinations are not mandatory in California and many other states, and since there is no easy way to track vaccination records for foreign students, the University of California is considering making measles vaccinations mandatory. College campuses, dorms and their surrounding environs harbor large numbers of young students living in close proximity to one another. Diseases thrive in these environments.
Scientists and medical professionals agree that vaccines are effective. For students that may not have received the vaccine or its booster (possibly at the election of their parents), this requirement at the college level could be a reasonable way to prevent the spread of the disease.
To get an idea of scope, the University of California, Los Angeles, is the largest of the UC campuses, with a combined undergraduate/graduate population of over 40,000 students. UC Berkeley isn't far behind, with approximately 37,000 students. This means that the vaccine requirement could have fast and far-reaching effectiveness.
The new rule would become effective for the entering class of 2017.
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