STUDENTS are being advised to get a MMR vaccination to ensure prevention against mumps after a large number of cases were diagnosed across campus last week. There has been an increase of the number of reported cases over the past few weeks, with around 28 cases recorded by the Student Health Service since the start of the semester.
Director of the Student Health Service, Dr Sandra Tighe, described the figure as “huge”, adding that the health service has never before seen such a high volume of cases. As an example, Dr Tighe stated that as many as five cases of mumps were diagnosed last Thursday, 19th February.
Dr Tighe said that the Health Service Executive (HSE) had been informed of the situation and added that “it’s very important for people to ensure they’ve had two doses of mumps MMR vaccine.” However, she acknowledged that the virus is also occurring in people who have had two vaccines stating that “there is a possibility that this is a wild virus, that this is a virus that isn’t covered by the vaccine. But we don’t know that as yet.”
Students’ Union (SU) President, Aodhán Ó Deá, said that the outbreak had “come to light in the last few days and we’ve been encouraging students to come up and get a booster injection if you haven’t already been, if you haven’t already had two in your life.” Stating that the SU intend to raise awareness of the outbreak, Mr Ó Deá said he would publicise the issue in an email and said that “hopefully we can get other means of doing it might put up some posters, something like that.”
The Student Health Service will run special clinics this week in an effort to vaccinate as many students as possible, and will also administer the vaccine during normal clinic hours. Dr Tighe stated that “all students should ensure that they’ve had at least two vaccines. And the vaccine is free for anyone 23 years and under.” She also added that the Student Health Service would also cover people up to 25 years of age as “the HSE say over 25 is not necessary.”
A person born in 1989 onwards should have had two doses of the vaccine but anyone born before 1989 has more thank likely only had one. However, Dr Tighe emphasised that “if someone is not sure, a third dose will not do them any harm.” Dr Tighe has advised any students who feel swelling on the sides of their face should seek a doctor’s assistance as this is a main symtom of mumps. She explained that, “It can be quite uncomfortable. You should stay out of college for five days to reduce the spread and inform your friends from the college so that they can come and have the vaccine.”