More Than 1,000 UMass Amherst Students Vaccinated For Meningitis; Clinics Continue

Dec 1, 2017

With a certified meningitis outbreak at UMass Amherst, more than 1,000 students were vaccinated on Thursday to prevent further spread of the disease.

It was the first of several large-scale vaccination clinics being held at the student union.

Jeffrey Hescock is director of emergency management at UMass Amherst. He said students really should get the vaccination in the next few days.

“You know, after class schedules, when they have free time,” he said. “We have plenty of greeters that are in there. And they’re helping them fill out the forms. And then they get on to the second line, which is to do the vaccinations, and they’re in and out, very quickly.”

Salvatore Viola, a UMass freshman, is among those who decided to get the vaccination.

“I realized how quickly it could spread,” he said. “Just being here for a couple of months, I’ve been sick two or three times. Thankfully, nothing like meningitis!”

Since the outbreak, Viola said he’s changed some of his habits. He took a break from the gym because the equipment isn’t always the cleanest, he said. And he’s more conscious about washing his hands frequently before eating.

UMass senior Mackenzie Gemelli said she was reluctant to participate at first.

“I hate shots. I hate needles,” she said. “So anything involving that turns me off. But with the outbreak, and having two cases on campus, I just felt like it was more important to get it, now that more people are getting it, now that the clinics are open.”

Gemelli, who lives off-campus, came to the clinic with her sister, sophomore Lauren Gemelli, who lives in the dorms. The younger sister made the older get the shot. Their mother also wanted them to get the vaccinations.

UMass is holding another clinic on Friday and two more next week.

Health officials are recommending vaccinations for all undergraduates on campus.

Heather Brandon contributed to this report.