In response to the chickenpox outbreak on campus Sept. 1, the Student Health Services held special immunization times to administer the chickenpox vaccine at SF State.
According to Alastair Smith, director of Student Health Services, they received 100 doses of the vaccine Sept. 5 and hope that all non-immune students get vaccinated.
“We definitely hope that every student who is not immune does get vaccinated because chickenpox can potentially be a nasty disease in adults and (secondly), you lose time out from school and you also risk transmitting it on to your classmates, roommates, people in housing, etc.,” Smith said.
Student Health Services hours
Monday, Tuesday, Thursday & Friday:
8:10 A.M. – 4:45 P.M.
10 A.M. – 4:45 P.M.
Phone number: 415-338-1251
The Student Health Services scheduled the special immunization times for 8-10 a.m. and 2-4 p.m. Sept. 7. Since that morning, nurse Barbara Commins said she administrated 5 doses of the vaccine to different people.
A sixth patient came in for immunization around 3:45 p.m. According to nurse Ruby Blanco, that person, who is a staff member at SF State, came in for the vaccination because she never had the disease as a child, nor has she had any vaccinations prior to that day.
Smith said the risk of suffering with more severe chickenpox symptoms is higher in adults. Serious side effects include neurological problems in balance, having chickenpox pneumonia and having disseminated chickenpox, in which all of the internal organs get infected. Although the risk for such severe symptoms are rare, Smith said the possibility is still high.
Despite the fact that most SF State students, faculty and staff hold little chance for contracting anything from this outbreak if they are immune, they can still come down with shingles, the reactivation of the chickenpox virus within a person’s body.
Shingles occurs because the chickenpox virus does not get killed off after someone has recovered from it, it is suppressed in the body, according to Smith. The specific cause for the shingles activation is unknown, but Smith said it is most common in people 40-60 years old.
Although the risk of getting shingles from the chickenpox outbreak doesn’t exist in theory according to Smith, he said it may be possible based on his experience.
“Many years ago, about 20 years ago, I saw a case of chickenpox and 21 days later, which is within the incubation period of chickenpox virus, I got shingles,” he said.
Smith said that the best way to stay healthy is to have all required vaccinations before entering the school.
In addition, he said that if it is known that a person has chickenpox, he or she must isolate themselves immediately. If they need to talk to someone, call from their room. He also said to have someone come to the Student Health Services building to get antibiotic medication, which must be taken within 24 hours.
According to nurse Stella Blankenship, they don’t expect too many people to come in for the vaccinations because they have either already had the disease or they’ve taken the vaccinations prior to entering kindergarten. However, they will still provide immunization to patients requesting it after Sept. 7 as part of their immunization list.