IOWA CITY — The University of Iowa campus this semester has seen more than 100 cases of mumps, prompting UI health officials to offer free doses of the measles, mumps and rubella vaccine.
Officials with the university and Johnson County Public Health on Friday via email urged students under age 25 to get a third MMR dose, and they listed multiple opportunities to do so for free on campus in the next two weeks.
“We have seen more than 100 cases of mumps in our community in the last few months and the numbers have been increasing in recent weeks,” Kathleen Wittich, medical director of UI Student Health and Wellness, said in an email sent to campus. “We are strongly recommending that students who are at the highest risk for mumps, those under 25, receive a third dose of the MMR vaccine — especially before they leave for the Thanksgiving holiday break.”
The university is offering multiple special clinics on campus to protect students from getting mumps and to reduce its spread “not only in the campus community, but across the state and outside Iowa.”
Clinics are scheduled for:
• Nov. 10 at the Iowa Memorial Union Main Lounge from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.
• Nov. 11 at the IMU second floor ballroom from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.
• Nov. 16 in Burge Residence Hall from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.
• Nov. 16 in Mayflower Residence Hall from 4 to 9 p.m.
• Nov. 17 in Hillcrest Residence Hall from 4 to 9 p.m.
Officials said additional clinics will be added as needed, and UI students under 25 should bring their student identification card to get the free shot.
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Wittich said all students who have not received at least two doses of the MMR vaccine “should do so immediately.”
“The decision to provide a third dose of the MMR vaccine is a proactive approach to curtail this illness,” Johnson County Public Health Director Doug Beardsley said in an email. “At this time, we do not anticipate a threat to the general public, but we are continuing to monitor the situation closely.”
Officials said they are recommending a third MMR shot because immunity that most students received from vaccines before starting kindergarten has waned and needs to be boosted.
“Students under 25 living in close quarters such as dorms, apartments, fraternities and sororities, and those who participate in group activities such as athletics, band, and social events, face the highest risk and especially need a third MMR dose,” according to health officials.
Mumps can cause fever and painful, swollen glands. In more serious cases, the illness can result in long-term complications like deafness and testicular swelling, causing sterility.
“Both of those complications have already occurred in students,” said Patricia Quinlisk, medical director for the Iowa Department of Public Health. “Mumps can also rarely cause inflammation of the brain and pancreatic problems. Bottom line, this is not a disease that you want to get.”
Officials are not currently recommending UI students older than 25, or faculty and staff, receive a third MMR dose.