The University of Southern Maine began notifying more than 400 students Thursday that they’re being banned from campus for failing to meet the latest vaccination requirements for mumps.
Campus officials provided student lists to professors and were trying to reach about 50 on-campus residents to make sure they have another place to go.
The 426 students were among about 1,300 full-time or residence hall students on the two campuses who were told to get their vaccinations up to date following an outbreak of mumps in Maine that included at least one university student.
The list includes about 20 students who have declined vaccinations on religious or philosophical grounds, said spokeswoman Judie O’Malley.
All of those who failed to get their shots will be kept out of classes with the exception of students who are medically exempt from the vaccination, the university said. Those students must receive a special pass to get into class.
USM does not plan to kick anyone out of student housing onto the streets, and it will work with students who are having difficulty meeting course requirements.
“The faculty and the provost will work with any and all students so they can successfully complete their semester,” O’Malley said.
The university, acting on recommendations from the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention, is now requiring students to receive two doses of the vaccine. In the past, the recommendation had called for only one shot.
The USM student who got the mumps has recovered and returned to class, but there have been two other unconfirmed cases involving students since then, O’Malley said.
The requirement applies to the university’s campuses in Portland and nearby Gorham. The Lewiston campus, about 35 miles from Portland, was not affected by the vaccination rule.
Overall, there have been eight laboratory-confirmed cases of the mumps in Maine, and there are another 35 suspected cases, said Dr. Dora Anne Mills, director of the state disease control center, on Wednesday.
Maine’s mumps outbreak is believed to be linked to Canada, which has been dealing with an outbreak for months.
Health officials believe the state’s outbreak could be linked to a concert by a Canadian band at a crowded venue in September in the Portland area. A member of the music group came down with mumps, and Maine’s first two cases had attended the concert, Mills said.
Mumps is a virus spread by coughing and sneezing. The most common symptoms are fever, headache and swollen salivary glands under the jaw. It can lead to more severe problems, such as hearing loss, meningitis and swollen testicles, which can lead to infertility.
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