Dr. Lois Flagstad
Dean of Student Life, 308.865.8528
This week, after learning that a student at Hastings College was diagnosed with bacterial meningitis, University of Nebraska at Kearney’s Health Care staff are reminding UNK students how meningitis is transmitted and encouraging students to get vaccinated.
“With the case of meningitis at Hastings College, it’s an opportunity to review information about the disease and alert our students about the need to be proactive,” said Dr. Lois Flagstad, dean of Student Life. “We are reminding our students about the importance of being vaccinated.”
“It is especially important to remember that meningitis is transmitted through direct contact with an infected person, such as oral contact with shared items like cigarettes or drinking glasses, and through kissing,” said Julie Klahn, APRN-C, UNK Health Care manager. It can also be spread person-to-person through the air by coughing or sneezing.”
“Vaccines are available on campus to UNK students for a fee,” Klahn said. The vaccine is also available at local medical clinics. Students can choose between two vaccines–one produces immunity for three to five years, or another which produces immunity for 7-10 years. With either vaccination, immunity develops within 7-10 days.
“For UNK students who qualify, there is an indigent patient fund to cover the cost of the vaccine,” she added. Students can contact Health Care for details.  
Informing students and their families of the need for being vaccinated for meningitis begins before students arrive on campus. Each summer, UNK Health Care alerts incoming UNK freshmen of the dangers of meningitis, and the value of getting vaccinated. A letter from UNK Health Care accompanies the housing contracts that are sent to the freshmen. The topic is also covered in a section of the housing contract under “Background and Health Information.”
“Detailed information is available on the Web sites for the Center for Disease Control and the American College Health Association,” said Dr. LeAnn Obrecht, UNK director of Counseling & Health Care, “Individuals can go to www.acha.org  for American College Health Association information or to  www.cdc.gov/ncidod/dbmd/diseaseinfo  for the CDC information.