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University of Arkansas tightens mumps vaccine requirements

December 17, 2019 GMT

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (AP) — Faculty and staff members will be subject to vaccination requirements after a mumps outbreak at the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville, the state health department said Monday.

The Arkansas Department of Health said 35 mumps cases linked to the campus have been identified since Sept. 1.

In a letter, the health department said faculty and staff born in 1957 or later must provide documentation that they’ve received two doses of the measles, mumps and rubella vaccine. If they don’t provide documentation — and don’t get vaccinated — then they will be excluded from work and campus activities, the letter said.

Employees born before 1957 are considered immune from mumps, the letter said.

University spokesman Mark Rushing told the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette that of UA’s 5,200 employees, about 600 are old enough to be considered immune. Another 1,250 already had documentation on file of the vaccinations because they are recent or current students, he said.

Last month, the university said all students would be required to have up-to-date vaccinations in order to attend classes.

Mumps is caused by a virus and is spread through coughing and sneezing. Common symptoms are fever, headache and swollen salivary glands that can cause puffy cheeks. It is commonly spread in schools and dormitories.

In 2016 and 2017, Arkansas had a major outbreak of mumps with nearly 3,000 confirmed cases.