Measles immunization required at EWU starting in fall 2019

By Marco Vargas, Reporter

Five of the four-year public universities in Washington already have a measles immunization requirement. EWU will soon make it six.

The EWU board of trustees has passed a requirement for all students to receive an immunization that can protect them from measles and other related diseases, according to EWU Senior Director of Wellness and Recreation programs Tricia Hughes.

“Eastern was the only four-year public university (in Washington) that didn’t have an immunization requirement,” Hughes said. “This requirement helps to provide public health perspective around measles, mumps and rubella if an outbreak were to occur.”

According to Hughes, health organizations are hoping to provide herd immunity when the immunization policy is in effect.

“What that means is that they hope that any given community or about 90% of the population has immunity to measles, mumps or rubella,” Hughes said. “(The immunization) is just meant to protect our community from an outbreak. Over the last three or four years, there have been several outbreaks in Spokane county, and then the measles outbreak over at the Vancouver, Washington area just ended recently.”

To make the policy official, Hughes said that vaccines called MMR will be packaged and brought to EWU for student treatment. One minimum shot will be given.

“Our only great concern is measles because in a population, measles is 90% contagious for those who are unvaccinated,” Hughes said. “With measles, getting one vaccination is 93% effective, and getting two vaccinations is 97% effective. The vast majority of cases that we see are people who don’t have immunizations.”

Students will receive an email from the EWU health and wellness department that talks about the requirement. The department will also post on social media and put out posters to inform students about the policy and have them be cautious about the outbreaks.

“Because it’s a new policy, we don’t want people to be surprised by it,” Hughes said. “If they’re not able to show proof of vaccination prior to winter quarter registration, they will have a registration hold put onto their accounts and not register.”

The new immunization policy at EWU is set to activate in the fall quarter of 2019. Students must receive at least one vaccination to qualify for winter quarter registration. For more information about the policy, visit EWU Health, Wellness & Prevention Services at URC 201.