STORY BY JESSICA LYNK
In wake of a Disneyland measles outbreak, the Center for Disease Control (CDC) has reported 121 cases of the measles since January.
The outbreak has caused concern throughout the nation, but also at Drake University.
Kathryn Marwitz, a third year pharmacy student at Drake and Patient Care Vice President for the American Pharmacist Association- Academy of Student Pharmacists, sees the danger in this.
“Measles is extremely, extremely, extremely contagious if you are not vaccinated,” Marwitz said. “If you are vaccinated, there is no chance at all, so it goes both ways. It is super contagious. If someone on your first year floor gets sick with measles and you don’t have the vaccine, then you’ll probably get sick.”
Although the disease is contagious, Drake requires students to be vaccinated. According to Health Center Family Nurse Practitioner Janet Fink, very few students waive out of vaccinations for various reasons, including health or religious reasons.
“We have a good immunization rate,” Fink said. “We require them [students] to have two MMRs, which is measles, mumps and rubella, and if they don’t have two that they can verify, we can give them immunizations here at the clinic. If they are older or are graduate students coming back, and can’t find those records, we can always draw a titer to make sure they are immune, instead of giving them more vaccines.”
Students are also required to take a tuberculosis screening. If they answer yes to any of the questions, they will be tested for tuberculosis.
Being vaccinated not only affects little children and those immunocompromised, but it may affect the profession students choose to go into.
“Students should know if they are vaccinated or not. It is important to know your status on that. We have education majors on campus who are going to schools, we have health science and pharmacy students who are in the clinic studying all the time, so those people should definitely be vaccinated,” Marwitz said.
Marwitz works in the community and at Drake to promote awareness about vaccinations.
Marwitz, along with the Drake chapter of the American Pharmacy Association, goes to health fairs and the Des Moines Farmer’s Market in order to spread the word of the health benefits of vaccinations.
This spring, she hopes to educate students about possible diseases they could contract during spring break.
“My goal in the spring is to raise awareness about immunizations that you might need if you go on a spring break trip,” Marwitz said. “If you are going to Asia, you might have the threat of contracting Hepatitis A. So just kind of reminding students that if you are traveling, you should go get this vaccination.”
Although Marwitz works with Drake students, she finds greater influence in the community.
“We’ll do a little bit more awareness out in the community because I think it is slightly more valuable for other vaccinations, though the flu is huge here, so that is our promotion on campus: go get your flu shot, we’ll give it to you, etcetera.” Marwitz said.
Fink hopes that through the Disneyland outbreak, people in the community and throughout the world can see the importance in getting vaccinated.
“Hopefully it is a wake up call for people, and will make them think twice and will make them take their child to get vaccinated,” Fink said.
For Marwitz, getting vaccinated is a no-brainer because it helps those around students.
“When in doubt, go get vaccinated,” Marwitz said. “If you care about the people around you, go get vaccinated.”