by Elena Aronson
College campuses, due to group living and close contact through classes, athletics and social settings, are at risk for outbreaks of vaccine-preventable diseases.
Campus outbreaks are costly, and not necessarily confined to campus borders. Because of this, there is a public interest in colleges adopting comprehensive vaccine policies. Under Kansas law each state university is required to have in place policies and procedures requiring incoming students residing in student housing to be vaccinated against meningococcal disease. This requirement applies only to meningococcal disease and only to the six state universities in Kansas; it does not apply to private colleges, private universities or community colleges.
The Immunize Kansas Coalition, a group of researchers, health department officials, educators and providers working together with the Kansas Health Institute, sought to create a comprehensive model vaccination policy to share and promote among colleges and universities in Kansas.
The first activity in this project was a survey of the current vaccine policies at 55 colleges and universities around Kansas.
Current Policy Landscape
Among the 6 public universities in Kansas, all require the meningococcal vaccine or a waiver for students living in housing as required by state law. Three (50%) universities require 2 doses of the MMR (measles, mumps and rubella) vaccine. None of the universities have requirements for other vaccines, except for students in clinical health programs.
Among the 22 private colleges in Kansas, 12 (55%) require students residing in on-campus housing to be vaccinated against meningitis. Six (27%) require all students to receive 2 doses pf the MMR vaccine and six (27%) require the Tdap vaccine, which protects against tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis.
Among the 19 community colleges in Kansas, 14 (74%) require students residing in on-campus student housing to be vaccinated against meningitis. Five (26%) require all students to receive the MMR vaccine and 3 (16%) require the Tdap vaccine. None of the 7 technical colleges have vaccination requirements.
The next step in the project will be key informant interviews with 12 stakeholders representing health departments and health services from public universities, private colleges and community colleges.