Harvard Students Still Suffer From Mumps Outbreak Despite VaccinationBy Frances Jean Williams, UniversityHerald Reporter
Despite measures such as vaccination, students from Harvard University still suffer the spread of the recent mumps outbreak. A major factor that contributes to this is reportedly the tightly-packed living spaces.
While mumps are fairly uncommon in the United States, there have already been 40 people from the university reported to have contracted the virus ever since its outbreak late last February. Discovery News reported that close-knit living, a characteristic of Harvard dorms, hampers the ability of the vaccine to protect students from the disease.
Dr. Amesh Adalja, a specialist in infectious disease and a senior associate at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, supports this statement. Adalja claimed that the very nature of these living conditions leads to a very high exposure to the disease. It "overcomes" whatever amount of protection the vaccines can afford.
On the other hand, it was revealed that even without this condition, mumps vaccines (part of a shot that protects against measles and rubella) do not really offer total and guaranteed protection. To illustrate: one shot of the vaccine offers up to 78% protection, and most people receive a second shot that ups that figure to about 88%, as noted by Forbes.
So even as it was reported that the students exposed to the outbreak received vaccinations prior, some people apparently were more susceptible than others. Meanwhile, the suggestion of administering vaccines after the fact was most likely dissuaded by Harvard, as they had not suggested for students to get a third shot.
This is not to downplay the help that the vaccine is doing, however. Ever since they were approved, mumps vaccines have drastically decreased cases of an outbreak over time. The current data places up to about two thousand reported cases per year. Prior to the vaccine that number could reach as high as 186,000.
Vaccines or not, authorities are already working on ways to try and prevent the spread. The Cambridge Public Health Department has already advised Harvard students that suffer from mumps to refrain from public activities. They told them to stay put for five days after they exhibit symptoms of exposure.