Editorial: The need for vaccine speed in a campus community

There have been 101 reported cases of mumps in Champaign County as of Aug. 26, making this the largest mumps outbreak in a decade.

While number of cases has grown since June 12, when 23 cases were reported, the University and local Champaign health officials are concerned that the infection may spread further.

Although the University requires all incoming students to receive a vaccine for measles, mumps and rubella, health officials have found that most of the mumps cases found among students have already received the vaccination at least once.

Therefore, McKinley Health Center and the Champaign Urbana Public Health District are working together to keep the outbreak under control.

It’s crucial that students receive their vaccinations. McKinley offered two free, all-day vaccinations Aug. 26 and 27, and McKinley Health Center continues to offer the booster for those who did not attend the clinics.

The University is using its resources to make it easy for students to get their vaccines and avoid spreading the infection. Taking advantage of the offer is essential in such a highly populated environment.

According to the University, students who are at risk of infection as a result of exposure to the virus or who lack adequate vaccination protection can be restricted from activities within the campus — including class, other events and housing.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, one dose of the MMR vaccine is about 78 percent effective at preventing the disease while two doses of the mumps vaccine is 88 percent effective. Considering the terrible social and physical consequences mumps can cause, there is no excuse to avoid a vaccine largely effective in preventing the virus.

From coughing, sharing eating utensils, living in close quarters or even touching surfaces without washing hands are all methods of spreading and contracting the virus.

All of the patients in this outbreak so far had minor flu-like symptoms and swollen salivary glands. While most are University students, some patients are from the nearby community.

For those students who are rushing or plan to live in congregate living arrangements such as dorms or fraternity and sorority houses, the third dose of MMR can be especially helpful in controlling the mumps outbreaks from spreading even more.

Washing your hands, maintaining cough etiquette and staying in distance from those who are sick are simple ways to help manage this illness from spreading further, but students need to make sure to take the most important step: Get the vaccine in the first place.