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Meningitis vaccination clinic moved to Matthew Knight Arena

EUGENE, Ore. - The University of Oregon moved the meningococcemia vaccination clinic to Matthew Knight Arena, effective Monday.

By March 2, the university hopes to start inoculating as many as 22,000 students.

"Our primary focus is undergraduate students," said Rita Radostitz, director of strategic communications.

Radostitz said many students have already received their meningitis shots prior to come to the university.

But she said the strain that is on campus is different.

"This is Meningitis B and that's different from the Meningitis that most people have already been vaccinated for. This is a brand new vaccine for a different strain," Radostitz said. "This is why we are doing it."

Radostitz said the school started vaccinating students in late January. "We don't know exactly who else might be carrying it right now, and we want to make sure that those who haven't gotten sick, don't get sick."

The university has sent a number of patients to area-hospitals to undergo testing for meningococcemia. In most cases, students tested negative for the bacterial infection. She said most had the flu.

"We are being very cautious," Radostitz said. "I don't really know the number of transports, but we want to be careful because of the overlapping symptoms."

Health officials say meningococcemia patients often suffer flu-like symptoms.

Last Friday, the University of Oregon launched a social media campaign to reach more students and promote the meningococcemia vaccine.

UO freshman Shea Northfield received her meningococcemia vaccine this morning.

She said she shared a class with Lauren Jones, a UO student who died last week from meningococcemia.

"Even though I did not have the one-on-one connection, I was still feeling such a heavy loss," Northfield said. "It's just like an open seat in our classroom."

Northfield lives in a dorm on campus.

She said students have been worried about contracting the bacteria.

"I was nervous for a while after hearing of all the cases and having them come to the dorms and having them come to the classrooms, but I feel a lot better about it after getting the vaccine."

The vaccine could cost up to $170 per student. Officials say they are working with insurance companies.

The vaccination clinic is for students only. UO officials said students must bring a photo ID and their insurance card.

Health officials said it's highly unlikely for non-students to get meningococcemia.

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