Nursing students unprotected against mumps outbreak

 
 

A NUMBER of UCD nursing students, who were on a clinical work placement, have received late warnings to receive vaccinations to protect against a recent outbreak of mumps as the School of Nursing, Midwifery and Health Systems felt they were not at risk of infection. Fourth year students who were on placement since the beginning of January were not contacted as it was believed that they were not in risk of contracting the virus as they were not on attending classes on campus.

A staff member from the School of Nursing explained that only “priority students” were contacted about the outbreak as the majority of students had been on work placements. However, Director of the Student Health Service, Dr Sandra Tighe, stated that these students may still be at risk stating that “being on campus or not on campus is not the issue because [the virus] is in the community anyway.”

The staff member didn’t acknowledge any mistake on the part of the School of Nursing, stating that she believed the students may be protected against the mumps already as they may have received the vaccine “in their occupational health departments in the hospital” which was part of their “admissions process.”

She added that that the students would be more at risk if they were brought to the campus to receive the vaccination, and argued that the School of Nursing responded effectively to the outbreak stating “we’re happy that our students were covered to the degree that they needed.”

The Student Health Service is currently providing free vaccinations for all students but, according to Dr Tighe, “anyone going into clinical work is being prioritised.” She advises all clinical students to “be able to prove that they’ve had two MMR vaccines or to have an additional free MMR.”

Dr Tighe feels adequate precautions were taken in preventing an outbreak in hospitals via clinical students stating that “it’s a public health issue” and the Student Health Service had followed public health advice. She confirmed that the number of mumps cases in the university has declined in recent weeks however this was contributed to the idea that during the midterm break students could possibly be seeing their GP’s at their home if they contracted the virus.

Dr Tighe described the recent number of cases as approximately “55-60 at the minute” adding “we must have given out about 1,000 vaccines at this stage.” She advises all students to ensure they have received two vaccines adding “if they can’t find out [if they received a vaccine], having a third is not going to harm them.”

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