Universities across the country are concerned that individuals who choose not to vaccinate pose a threat to the larger student population.
“[ORU] encourages students to obtain their immunizations for the overall health of our campus,” said Lisa Bowman, director of auxillary services. “ORU and Student Health Services believes in the healing power of Christ in conjunction with physicians and medicine.”
No vaccine-preventable disease outbreaks occurred at ORU in the past five years. Still, no campus is completely immune.
A recent outbreak of measles in Southern California spread to six states and Mexico. Bard College in New York recently isolated a student who contracted the measles virus. Moorpark College in Los Angeles issued a warning last week about possible measles exposure on campus. Centers for Disease Control officials attribute the spike in measles cases during 2014 in part to unvaccinated individuals.
“Per our ORU policy, there are three waivers available for exemptions – the religious waiver, the medically contra-indicated waiver, and the meningococcal waiver,” Bowman said.
“If an unimmunized exemptor is exposed to such a disease they will be asked to stay home to prevent spreading the diesease. In some cases this could be for 28 days or more,” said Kathy Sebert, coodinator for the Tulsa Area Immunization Coalition.
“Unfortunately, an outbreak in the college and university setting will be what it takes to get exemptors off the fence,” said Sebert.
“Science has proved time and again that vaccines are safe and the risk is low of adverse reactions compared to the risks of the disease,” she said.
Ultimately, vaccination remains to be a student’s decision. ORU is in compliance with Oklahoma’s requirements for the immunization of college students.