Colorado State University, the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, the Larimer County Department of Health and Environment and the Health District of Northern Larimer County are partnering to provide free vaccines to the CSU campus community, their families and roommates who meet specific age criteria from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 5 at the Student Recreation Center.
The CDPHE has recommended that all CSU students and employees 29 years of age and younger receive a meningococcal vaccination if they have not received one within the past three years. Following CDPHE recommendations, the free vaccine clinic will be available to anyone 2 to 29 years old who is a:
– CSU student 29 years old or younger;
– CSU employee 29 years old or younger;
– Household member of a CSU student or employee (family members and roommates) who are 2 to 29 years old.
The Centers for Disease Control has declared an outbreak of meningococcal disease in Fort Collins; vaccines are being encouraged to prevent meningococcal disease and reduce the risk of further cases of the disease which has resulted in four fatal illnesses in Larimer County over the last five months.
Students and employees are encouraged to pre-register for a vaccination time online, beginning at 8 a.m. on Wednesday, Nov. 3. A link to the registration site will be available from www.safety.colostate.edu. Pre-registering will speed up the process significantly, with an estimated average 15 minutes or less from arrival to completed vaccination. Students and employees also can walk-in to the clinic and sign-up for a vaccination, but might be required to wait longer or return at a later time. An additional clinic might be added the following week depending on demand.
“Meningococcal disease is a devastating illness and college-age persons are at higher risk of becoming very ill from it,” said Dr. Adrienne LeBailly, director of the Larimer County Health Department. “For their own protection, we are asking all CSU students and employees 29 and younger to be vaccinated.”
LeBailly added that here have been no new reported meningococcal disease cases in Larimer County or among the CSU community since the death a young woman on October 20. “However, public health officials believe this will help us in our long-term strategy to prevent further cases of meningococcal disease within the CSU and larger Fort Collins community,” she said.
Beginning Tuesday, CO HELP, an information resource of the Colorado Department of Public Health, will assist callers by providing information to help answer questions about meningococcal disease. In addition, CO HELP will be able to search the state’s vaccine registry for students and others who want to verify if or when they received their last vaccination. CO HELP is available toll-free at 1-877-462-2911 from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m., beginning Tuesday through Friday this week. The line also is open on weekends from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
“Working with state and local health officials, our goal is to make vaccinations free and convenient for the targeted CSU community before the fall break, and to continue doing everything we can to protect our community from meningococcal infection,” said Anne Hudgens, director of the CSU Health Network. “Thanks to the tremendous support from the CDPHE and local health officials, we believe this effort will help prevent severe illness from this particular strain of bacteria across the campus and in Fort Collins.”
Last week, the Centers for Disease Control’s advisory committee that provides recommendations on vaccination said that immunity provided by the meningococcal vaccine declines over time. After five years, it no longer protects against meningococcal disease. CDPHE is recommending that the CSU target population get vaccine boosters after three years because of the current meningococcal disease outbreak in Larimer County. CDPHE is providing vaccine for free to the CSU clinic.
The Fort Collins community has seen a higher than usual number of serious meningococcal infections over the last five months, including Christina Adame, a CSU student who died from the infection on Oct. 20. The state has confirmed seven meningococcal disease cases linked to the outbreak in Larimer County. One of those lived in the Denver area with links to the CSU campus community. Five cases, including the one in Denver, resulted in death.
College students are at a higher risk of meningococcal disease due to their age and lifestyle, such as living in crowded spaces and being more likely to share food, drinks, smokes, and utensils when socializing. Health officials believe that vaccinating persons 29 and younger on campus could help reduce additional cases of meningococcal disease across the Fort Collins community.
Health officials advise people outside the CSU community who want a meningococcal vaccination to check with their physician or pharmacy about the vaccine. According to health officials, meningococcal vaccine is readily available for order from pharmaceutical companies, but local providers’ supply may be temporarily unavailable due to increased demand. The cost for these vaccines is about $125 for the vaccine and administration.
For more information about meningococcal disease, the difference between bacterial and viral meningitis, and the meningococcal vaccine, visit www.safety.colostate.edu.