posted 2011-09-21 13:00:52

Hunter College Contributes MMR Vaccinations to Student Body

Kristina Nocerino

Additional Reporting by John Bolger

The Health Services office has been offering free MMR vaccinations to Hunter College students on select days this month.  Students who have not yet been vaccinated will have until September 26 to submit proof of vaccination.  Students who miss this deadline will  automatically be assigned a grade of WA for all of their courses.  The MMR vaccine contains a mixture of living samples of the measles, mumps, and rubella viruses.

According to Patricia Jajoute, a student wellness specialist at the health services office, state law requires students enrolled with 6 or more credits to have received two doses of live measles, and one each of rubella and mumps.  “With the exception of a religious or medical waiver, students who do not comply with New York state public health law 2165 … will not be allowed to attend class and will receive a WA grade which can become permanent until proof of vaccinations are shown,” Jajoute said.

According to the Hunter College website, the WA grade denotes an administrative withdrawal – a grade reserved specifically for students who fail to comply with immunization requirements.  Students missing their vaccines will be notified via their Hunter email, Jajoute said.

The vaccine is usually given in two doses to an individual before the age of five, however, according to Ilia Razoumov, 134 Hunter students were missing the vaccination requirement and only around 18 have came to the health services office to receive the MMR shots as of September 16.  Vaccines were offered in the Health Services office, located at Hunter North 307 on September 6, 7, 12 and 13 and will be offered again September 19, 20, 21 and 26 from 10:00 AM to 5:00 PM.

“If you get it now and just have records for it, it will just make your life easier,” Razoumov said.

The vaccines are offered free of charge through the Vaccines for Children program.  Vaccines for Children is a federally funded program which allocates funds for the distribution of vaccinations.  The Center for Disease Control acquires vaccines at discounted prices and distributes them to schools and other health facilities, which then offer the vaccines to eligible children.

Although most students received the vaccination at a very young age, students understood the importance of the MMR service.

Aksar Azad, 19, majoring in biology, said he had gotten the vaccine when he was six months old.  “It is helping less fortunate people to get the vaccine,” he said.  “For both health reasons and for the students themselves, it's good.  It's a win-win for students.”

“I feel like it is very important for students to receive their vaccinations because it is for the protection of everyone around them,” said Stefanie Smith, a senior double majoring in media studies and psychology.

In order to accommodate the administration of MMR vaccines, the Health Services office has employed a nurse practitioner and a nursing student.  Some students expressed reservations about receiving shots at Hunter, such as Diana Isakova, a sophomore majoring in counseling psychology.   “Something just feels odd about having anything medically related being done at my public college,” she said.  “Although I understand that these are qualified professionals administering the MMR.”

Smith disagreed.  “I would feel safe receiving a vaccination from a nurse practitioner, because of Hunter's excellent nursing school reputation,” she said.  “This gives me the hopes that Hunter College would hire highly qualified nurse practitioners.”

With the deadline to be vaccinated looming ahead, students who still require their vaccines are highly advised to either make use of the MMR service or to see their general practitioner for the vaccine.