Fearing an "epidemic," the Harvard community began implementation of a massive immunization program this week, said Christopher S. Queen, dean of students for the Summer School.
On the night of July 3, a student in the Ukrainian Institute Summer Program was diagnosed with measles, an extremely contagious disease, triggering a College-wide scramble to combat the emergence of further cases.
Dr.David S. Rosenthal '59, director of University Health Services (UHS), said about 100 students and staff who came into immediate contact with the infected Lowell House resident were immunized initially.
Mary Wolfman, the primary care physician on duty the night of July 3, organized the initial effort to prevent an outbreak of the disease, tracking down data on summer students threatened by the disease.
"We had to take care of primary and secondary cases within 72 hours," Rosenthal said. "We called people in on July 4."
By Monday, all summer school students and staff will be required to either be immunized or provide proof of immunization. Students will not be permitted to attend class without presenting the instructor a slip from UHS.
Members of the summer school community can receive free vaccinations in Loker Commons today between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m., compliments of the Massachusetts Immunization Program.
According to Ukrainian Program staffer Adele M. Marchinko, the outbreak should have been prevented.
Marchinko said the Ukrainian students never received the medical forms sent to other Harvard Summer School enrollees.
Moreover, state regulations do not require immunizations for any summer school students, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The CDC instead recommends that individual universities impose requirements.
Though undergraduates must provide record of immunizations, Assistant Dean Michael J. Prokopow said summer school students are not required to hand in immunization forms. They are expected to "in good faith."
"We're not so draconian as to disenroll students who fail to hand in their forms," Prokopow said.
Rosenthal said the Summer School was responsible for all medical forms this year, but next year he hopes to reevaluate the way health issues are handled.
American children usually receive two immunizations for the measles by their second birthday, but regulations around the world are less clear-cut, Rosenthal said.
As a result, international students entering the Summer School may not have been immunized for measles and may potentially bring the disease with them.
"Importations [of the disease] are the number one reason for measles [in America]," said Barbara Reynolds, spokesperson for the CDC. "[Measles] is increasingly coming from Europe and Japan."
At proctor meetings this week, many students expressed frustrations with needing to have medical records faxed from halfway around the world in the wake of the measles alert.
At his proctor group meeting, Young K. Lee '99 fielded questions from five Korean students who insisted they had been vaccinated.
"You need a note from your doctor," Lee replied. "Otherwise you'll have to get a shot."
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