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How Does Mumps Reach A Campus With Vaccination Requirements?

For the third consecutive year, cases of the mumps have been confirmed on campus. But with Penn State’s vaccination requirements, how is it possible that this keeps happening?

Every incoming student is required to have the Measles, Mumps, and Rubella (MMR) vaccine or provide blood tests to prove to the university that they are immune. Anyone who is living on campus — which is all first-year students — is also required to have the meningococcal conjugate vaccine (MCV4).

University Health Services (UHS) lists a number of other vaccines on its website that are highly recommended for students.

So what gives? Well, it appears it’s not actually all that difficult to get an exemption from these requirements.

Like any other entity that requires immunizations, the university has a waiver request form. Penn State allows students to request these waivers for medical, religious, or philosophical reasoning. None of the forms require much documentation — just a brief statement on your beliefs or medical reasoning.

The MMR vaccine doesn’t prevent all cases of the mumps, but two doses of the vaccine makes a person nine times less likely to get the disease than unvaccinated people who had the same exposure to the virus.

UHS declined to comment on how many students apply for and are granted vaccination waivers each year, but nearly 100 students have had confirmed or probable cases of the mumps since spring 2017.

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About the Author

Riley Davies

Riley is a freshman studying Public Relations from Orange County, CA. You understandably may be questioning why she is at Penn State and to be quite frank, so is she. She loves dogs, Creamery lemonade, and going to Trader Joe's. You can reach her at [email protected] or follow her on twitter @rileyydavies for retweets of dogs.


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