The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has approved the use of an unlicensed meningococcal vaccine at UCSB, which will allow all undergraduate students to receive the shot in February — and a second one in spring — at no cost.
One of four UCSB students diagnosed with meningococcal disease, a bacterial infection that can lead to meningitis or blood infections, had his feet amputated in November to stop the disease from spreading throughout his body. Aaron Loy has since returned to his San Diego home after spending 11 weeks in three hospitals, according to the Caring Bridge website his parents created for him. The other three students recovered and have returned to class. There have not been any additional cases.
The vaccine — called Bexsero — will only be available to undergrads, University Immersion Program students, and staff and graduate students who live in the dorms (or in any university-owned housing), per recommendations by the Center for Disease Control (CDC). The FDA allowed the use of the vaccine at Princeton University, where several students have been diagnosed since last March.
Students who have already received the standard meningococcal vaccine are still recommended to take the new shot because UCSB students were affected by a different meningococcal strain, called serogroup B. The new vaccine is not licensed in the U.S., but is licensed in Europe, Australia, and Canada.
Two doses of the vaccine are recommended for maximum protection, and the second dose will be available during the spring quarter. The university, the CDC, and public health officials will hold a two-week vaccination clinic February 24-March 7. Questions can be answered by the UCSB Student Health manager at (805) 893-5339, and information is available at UCSB’s Student Health website.