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Counseling and Health Services

HEALTH ALERT

1st alert:  January 28, 2014
2nd alert: February 25, 2014

CHICKEN POX ALERT

The Commonwealth of Massachusetts regulations and Merrimack College policy requires all students to either provide proof of immunization for communicable diseases, including chicken pox, or to sign a waiver based on religious beliefs that includes an understanding that they may be asked to stay away from campus for a period of time during a communicable disease exposure. 

The reason you are receiving this alert is because a second case of the chicken pox was discovered on campus. The student resides on campus and was diagnosed on 2/23/14.  The student has left campus and will not return until he or she is no longer contagious.  We have been working with the student to identify those individuals who may have been in direct contact with the student.  These individuals will be contacted separately.  Direct contact may increase the risk of infection if not appropriately immunized.  Chicken pox is contagious from 1 day before the onset of the rash to 5 days after, or until the blisters are crusted over, whichever is later. 

If you have had chicken pox or 2 doses of the chicken pox/varicella vaccine, you are not likely at risk of infection.

If you have not had chicken pox or at least 1 dose of the vaccine, the Massachusetts Department of Public Health (MDPH) recommends vaccine within the first 3 to 5 days of exposure to reduce the risk of becoming infected. 

If you have only had 1 varicella vaccine, we encourage you to get a second vaccination.

We have been informed by the Massachusetts Department of Public Health that students who failed to provide proof of all required immunizations, which includes proof of immunity to the chicken pox, may not be allowed to be on campus until their health records are in full compliance.

 

In order to avoid infection and prevent the spread of chicken pox, if you have not received the chicken pox vaccine or never had the disease, you must do so as soon as possible.  

Proof of immunity can be demonstrated by immunization documentation, blood test of immunity, or in the case of chicken pox, by clinician verification of the disease.  Please contact your primary care physician if you are unsure about your immunity.  Records can be faxed to the Hamel Health Center at 978-837-5209.

We encourage you to review the additional information available at

http://www.mass.gov/eohhs/docs/dph/cdc/factsheets/chickenpox.pdf

Anyone who suspects he or she is coming down with chicken pox should stay home or in your residence hall and contact Hamel Health.  If Hamel Health is closed please contact your Resident Advisor. 

 

If you have any questions or concerns, please contact the Hamel Health and Counseling Center 978-837-5441.

 

 

Donna Swartwout, Ph.D.

Dean of Campus Life

 

Suzanne M. Slattery, Ph.D.

Director of Hamel Health and Counseling Center

 

Tracy L. Harris, M.D.

Medical Director of Hamel Health Services