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Vaccination Policy

Policy Name:  Vaccinations and Health Record

Scope:   Mercyhurst University

Issuing/Reviewing Authority:  Cohen Student Health Center

Original Date: 9/2002

Most Recent Revision Date: 1/2017

Purpose:

  1.  Assure that incoming students provide health record information that permits the University to ascertain vaccine status and TB screening results
  2. Assure that the Cohen Student Health Center has adequate medical information on incoming students to permit safe and effective care, and to guide the Center in the event of an emergency health event
  3. Assist the University in the prevention of outbreaks of infectious diseases in order to protect the health and welfare of the campus community
  4. Assure Mercyhurst University is in compliance with Pennsylvania law and with professional standards defined by ACHA and other relevant organizations

Definitions:

  1. Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) is a panel of experts who provide recommendations to government agencies on the use of vaccines. ACIP endeavors to reduce illnesses from those diseases that vaccines can prevent. 
  2. American College Health Association (ACHA) is the national professional organization for college campus health centers across the United States.  ACHA publishes guidelines and standards of care for campuses, including the Recommendations for Institutional Prematriculation Immunizations, and the guideline Tuberculosis Screening and Targeted Testing of College and University Students.  These standards are based on the recommendations of ACIP and the CDC, and represent best practice.
  3. Pennsylvania College and University Student Vaccination Act of 2002 is the state law requiring students living in campus housing to be immunized against meningococcal disease.  The law permits students to sign a waiver based on medical, religious, or other objections that permits refusal of the vaccine.  Students signing a waiver must indicate that they have received detailed information on the risks associated with meningococcal disease, the availability and effectiveness of the vaccine, and have provided documentation supporting the waiver as needed.
  4. Mercyhurst Health Record is a packet of forms that provides health information on individual incoming students.  The Record includes medical history and demographic data; results of a physician/health care provider’s recent physical exam; immunization history; TB screening interview and, if indicated, TB testing results and follow-up care.
  5. Pennsylvania Department of Health (PA DOH) is the state department charged with working to reduce the number of deaths in the Commonwealth due to lifestyle, illness, and injury.  Mercyhurst is required to notify the DOH in the event of certain student illnesses.  The CDC and DOH work together with campuses to prevent and manage outbreaks.
  6. Physician and healthcare provider is the term used in this policy to indicate those healthcare professionals qualified to evaluate and attest to the student’s current physical status, immunization history, TB screening interview and testing/interventions, and to document support for waiving the meningitis waiver for medical reasons.  The approved professionals include licensed physicians, nurse practitioners, and physician assistants. 
  7. U. S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is a federal agency focused on prevention of disease through research and thorough investigation of disease outbreaks and patterns.  CDC works closely with the various state Departments of Health including PA DOH.

Procedures:

  1. Students are advised through the admissions process of the need to complete the Health Record and appropriate vaccinations.  The Health Record form, along with the meningitis education sheet and waiver, are posted on the campus portal site location for all incoming freshman and transfer student to complete.  Receipt and review of records is completed by Cohen Student Health Center. 
  2. Athletes are required to complete this information and return it to the Health Center.  Athletics physicals and health information forms do not take the place of the above documents.
  3. All new incoming students living in University housing must have the meningococcal conjugate vaccine that protects against infections caused by serogroups A, C, Y, and W-135.  Proof of meningitis vaccine (or a signed waiver) must be made available to the University prior to the student move-in date, and will be verified at or before the time of move-in.
  4. In addition, it is strongly recommended that all new incoming students have received the following vaccines:   measles, mumps, rubella (MMR), tetanus-diphtheria-pertussis (Tdap), polio, varicella (chicken pox), hepatitis B, hepatitis A, and human papillomavirus (HPV).  Serogroup B meningococcal and pneumococcal for students are recommended for students with certain medical risk factors.
  5. All students are strongly encouraged to receive annual flu vaccines while attending Mercyhurst.
  6. Prior to move-in day, all new incoming students will provide the Health Center with a completed Health Record containing the results of a recent physical, TB screening interview (and any indicated testing/treatment), and an  immunization history all signed by their physician or other health care provider.
  7. Students who have not submitted the above required health record documents by September 15 will not be able to register for spring classes.  The registration hold will be removed once a student completes the above meningitis, health record, and TB requirements.  Students entering campus for a first time in January who do not provide the above required documents by February 15 will not be able to register for summer or fall classes.
  8. In the event of an outbreak of vaccine-preventable diseases the University will consider and may require temporary exclusion of un-immunized students from school in order to reduce the spread of the disease.
  9. The University will report the occurrence of any of the above diseases that appear on the Pennsylvania Department of Health (DOH) list to the DOH, and collaborate as indicated in the care of the student and updates to DOH.   
  10. Pennsylvania DOH and the Cohen Student Health Center will collaborate and coordinate in the evaluation and/or management of any cases of latent TB infection or active TB.  Mercyhurst Health Center decisions relative to class attendance, presence on campus, proof of follow-up treatments, and additional screenings will be consistent with the requirements of the PA DOH.