Chicken pox continues to occur sporadically on college campuses and elsewhere in our community, and has occured on our campus this semester.
While the symptoms are usually mild in children, college students are more likely than children to develop serious complications, including pneumonia and encephalitis. Each year, a few thousand people are hospitalized and about 50 die due to chicken pox. Prior to the use of the chicken pox vaccine, the complications of chicken pox were much more common.
Chicken pox may spread more easily in a college living environment than in other settings. Health sciences students are at particular risk of exposure to chicken pox through patient care activities.
A vaccine is available, and the CDC (Center for Disease Control) and ACHA (American College Health Association) both recommend that all college students who have not had chicken pox should be vaccinated against the disease
In 2007, the CDC and ACHA guidelines were revised to recommend two doses of vaccine (instead of one dose). Many students were vaccinated under the older guidelines and have not received the second immunization. Students are encouraged to review their immunization records and obtain the second immunization, if appropriate.
You are considered immune to chicken pox, and therefore do not need additional vaccination, if any of the following apply:
Receipt of two doses of chicken pox (varicella) vaccine
A blood test that shows immunity to chicken pox (varicella)
You were born and raised in the United States before 1980
(this does not apply to healthcare workers, pregnant women, and immunocompromised people, who must meet one of the other criteria)
Diagnosis of chicken pox or herpes zoster (shingles) by a healthcare provider
All others should be immunized.
Varicella (Chicken Pox) vaccines are available at the University of Miami Student Health Service. More information is available at www.miami.edu/student-health