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Daily Bulletin

Monday, January 5, 1998

University of Waterloo • Waterloo, Ontario, Canada
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Meningitis shots start Wednesday

Clinics will operate on campus Wednesday, Thursday and Friday (January 7-9) to provide free vaccinations against meningococcal meningitis. Vaccinations will be available in the Student Life Centre from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Friday. Students up to age 22 can get the vaccinations. Staff and faculty members and students can also bring their children, aged 2 to 22, if the kids haven't already received shots at off-campus clinics.

Printed bulletins announcing the clinics were distributed around campus on the weekend. They say that anyone needing a vaccination should bring along his or her Ontario Health card (or UHIP card) and WatCard. "Children should have identification such as birth certificate which confirms age and residence as well as their OHIP card."

University students and other young adults are also welcome to get their vaccinations at off-campus clinics operated by the regional health authorities. There's been no word of clinic schedules for today and tomorrow, though. The Region of Waterloo Health Unit announced on Friday that it's expanding the vaccination program from the Kitchener-Waterloo area to all of Waterloo Region, including Cambridge. The disease has killed two teenagers in Kitchener-Waterloo in the past month and put several others in hospital.

The health unit provides this background information:

What are the symptoms? Symptoms of meningitis or meningococcemia include a fever, feeling generally unwell, headache, vomiting and stiff neck. A body rash is common, and may look like pinpoints of bruising or larger bruise-like areas. Quick medical attention and treatment with antibiotics is necessary to treat these infections.

How is it spread? The bacteria is found in saliva and mucus, and is spread from person to person through direct contact with saliva such as can occur by kissing or sharing items like eating utensils, cigarettes or cans of pop.

More information is offered on-line by the Meningitis Foundation of America. Locally, information is available from the regional health authorities, who have a meningitis hot line at 883-2289, or from UW's health services at ext. 2424.

Barbara Schumacher, UW's director of health services, says the Waterloo Region health department will bring "12 to 15 nurses and 2 clerical staff" to campus for the clinics, "but have asked us to assist with additional staff. Nancy O'Neil has agreed to ask the turnkeys to volunteer for the recovery area where we need 2 volunteers with first aid training at all times. Mario Bellabarba will look for assistance from the Fed office for an additional 5 to 10 people to help with reception and traffic control." Anyone else who can volunteer to help should call Carole Hea at health services, ext. 6264.

What about those over 22?

People outside the 2-to-22 age group have been asking whether they can, or should, get vaccinations. The gist of the answer, as provided by Schumacher after conversations with the local public health authorities, is No. People over 22 can't go to the clinics and get a free vaccination. They can ask their doctor for a prescription, and get a vaccination that way; it will cost about $40. However, in the absence of major risk factors (such as being a family member of a known meningitis victim) they probably don't need it.

Schumacher indicates that the 2-to-22 age range of those being offered free vaccinations in K-W at present is on the generous side. The immunization campaign is aimed not so much at everyone who could possibly catch meningitis, as at those who are most likely to, given who already has the disease in K-W. The group most at risk is thought to be those in the mid-teens.

The principle of public health immunizations is to get large numbers of people immunized fast, to stop the spread of an infection in the population where it's taking hold. "We know," says Schumacher, "that if even 80% of the most at risk group is immunized then this will confer protection on the entire population. If the decision is made to add even one extra year to the targeted group, then that dilutes the timing and effectiveness of the effort to reach the most at risk age group." In other words, not only would it cost more, it would take longer to get the real target population protected.

People over 22 are being urged -- like those under 22 -- to avoid the kind of behaviour that helps the disease spread: sharing cigarettes, drinks, lip balm and popsicles, for instance.

The winter term? really?

Despite the Novemberish, Marchlike weather, today is indeed the first day of classes for the January-to-April term. It's also registration day; graduate students head to Needles Hall, undergraduates to the Physical Activities Complex, to pay fees and make themselves official. Late fees start Thursday, so don't delay.

Employees on temporary appointments at UW can sign up for payroll today (1:30 to 3 p.m.) or Tuesday (10 to 11:30 a.m.) in Davis Centre room 1304. "Please bring your Social Insurance Number and banking information, with a void cheque if possible," the human resources department advises.

If you're just getting back to campus now, you may not have seen Friday's Bulletin, which included word of a proposed new policy statement on "Use of UW Computing and Communications Facilities". It includes some words on what is and isn't appropriate in Web pages presented on UW computers. "Chain letters or for-profit messages" by e-mail are explicitly forbidden.

[WatCard] The enda the VendaCard came in December, and the photocopiers that previously accepted the special-purpose cards now use WatCards instead. People who still have money on their old VendaCards can get it transferred to a WatCard starting today, the graphic services department says. Where and when: the WatCard office in the General Services Complex, all day every day; the Dana Porter Library copy centre, all day now through January 16; the Student Life Centre, 11 a.m to 2 p.m. next week only. "No cash refunds are available," a notice says, "nor is the physical VendaCard refundable (originally $1 paid)."

Senate executive meets today

The machinery of UW's governance never stops -- well, hardly ever -- and, it being the first Monday of the month, the executive committee of the UW senate will meet at 3:30 this afternoon (Needles Hall room 3004). On the agenda: scholarship reports, course changes, faculty appointments, and an "annual progress report" from the library, on which I'll say more tomorrow.

Now a notice for students: you too can be part of the power structure. A notice has been issued calling for nominations in the annual election of undergraduate representatives on the UW senate. Five two-year terms are coming open as of May 1: one each from applied health sciences, arts, environmental studies, and science, and one "at-large" (from any faculty). Nominations are due January 16. The official notice is available on the university secretariat web site and will be in Wednesday's Gazette.


Editor of the Daily Bulletin: Chris Redmond
Information and Public Affairs, University of Waterloo
credmond@uwaterloo.ca -- (519) 888-4567 ext. 3004
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