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News & Notes: In midst of meningitis outbreak, UCSB parents demand access to vaccine

As the emergency meningitis vaccine campaign at the University enters its fourth day with 4,361 students and select community members vaccinated, the parents of students at the University of California, Santa Barbara want their children to receive the vaccine as well, NBC News reported.

Four students at UCSB have fallen ill with meningitis caused by a bacterial strain slightly different from the one that has caused the Princeton outbreak. One student had to have both feet amputated because of complications from the disease, according to NBC News.

Health officials at UCSB and the local public health departments have been flooded with calls and emails urging them to offer the vaccine at the Santa Barbara campus.

Both outbreaks were caused by meningococcal bacteria type B, a group of bacteria for which there is no vaccine currently licensed in the United States.

The University’s current vaccination campaign aims to vaccinate 6,000 students with Bexsero, a vaccine produced by Swiss pharmaceutical company Novartis that has been licensed in the European Union, Australia and Canada. Upon consultation with the CDC, state and local health authorities, the University has imported 12,000 doses of the vaccine on an emergency basis for use only at Princeton.

While none of the eight cases at the University have had consequences as serious as amputation, the victims of meningitis at Princeton have not completely escaped the disease’s “residual effects,” according to Dr. Peter Johnson, director of medical services at University Health Services.

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