U of I Official: 'Strongly Recommended' Vaccines Should Be Required

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The University of Idaho's official policy is to recommend vaccinations, but in the wake of a recent mumps outbreak one official at the Moscow campus says it may be time to reconsider requiring students to be fully vaccinated.

The U of I's vaccination policies include some shots that are "strongly recommended" and others that are simply "recommended," but Greg Tatham, assistant vice provost of student affairs at the U of I told the Lewiston Tribune that the "strongly recommended" vaccines, such as MMR, hepatitis B and meningococcal, should be "required."

To date, the Idaho Public Health North Central District has confirmed 11 cases of mumps in Latah County,  And the mumps aren't the only health scare in that region. Earlier this week, Latah County parents were urged to check with their children's health care providers to make sure their shots were up to date after an increase of confirmed cases of pertussis, otherwise known as whooping cough.

"We know vaccinations aren't 100 percent effective 100 percent of the time, but it does greatly reduce the chance of contracting it," Anna Olson, North Central District epidemiologist, told the Tribune. "And if a person has been immunized and they do contract it, the case is often more mild."

The U of I wants to have a more robust dialogue about immunizations.

"We actually require no immunizations," Tatham told the Tribune. "Since these are optional, it's more to get people's attention and realize that in a population such as ours—in group living environments— that the strongly recommended ones are ones that can be spread more easily."