To help protect the EWU community from a potential measles, mumps or rubella outbreak, all students will be required to show verification of their MMR immunity when they register for winter quarter classes this fall. The Eastern Washington University Board of Trustees passed the new public health requirement this year, which aligns with other public universities across the state.
“Having a vaccination protects the entire community,” says Tricia Hughes, senior director of wellness and recreation programs at Eastern. “This is really about providing protection to those who have medical reasons they can’t get vaccines and would be highly susceptible to mumps or measles. Or to parents who are going to school here and have very young children who don’t have access to the vaccine until they are older.”
The nationwide measles outbreak is currently the largest in 25 years, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. So far this year, almost 840 individual cases of measles have been confirmed in 23 states, including 72 cases in Washington.
“We tend to see these kinds of outbreaks on college campuses because we have people in such close quarters and a lot of people going through the same dorm buildings or classroom buildings,” Hughes says.
Before registering for winter quarter classes, students will need to provide documentation that shows that they have received two doses of MMR vaccine or blood test results showing MMR immunity. The following are accepted documents to prove immunity:
- School Certificate of Immunizations
- Immunizations records from health care provider, public health department or state immunization registry
- Copy of child immunization card
- Copy of military immunization record
- Signed proof of immunity form (found here) from healthcare provider
Once students have the necessary document(s), they should register with EWU’s partner, Med+Proctor, using their EWU Eagles email. Current students who need the MMR vaccine can get it for free at MultiCare Rockwood.
Individuals with medical, religious or philosophical reasons to be exempt from the requirement may fill out an exemption-request in the Med+Proctor system. But as Hughes explains, those students could face restrictions down the road. “If we have an outbreak they may not be allowed on campus during the period of the outbreak.”
In the event of a confirmed outbreak of measles, mumps or rubella at EWU, Hughes says, the Spokane Regional Health District could place the EWU campus on “exclusionary” status. Students without proven MMR immunity would be contacted, and would not be allowed on campus during that time. Restrictions would include class attendance, campus activities and access to residence halls. Typically, an outbreak lasts from two-to-four weeks.
For more information on the MMR immunity requirement please go to the Health, Wellness and Prevention Services website, at www.ewu.edu/immunizations.