Salem lent its hand to the University of Oregon’s meningitis vaccine campaign. This week, Oregon Governor Kate Brown released a public service announcement directed at the UO. In the video, Brown encouraged the student body to get vaccinated and throws up an “O” at the end.
Brown’s office invited The Emerald to watch the production of the PSA and participate in a short Q&A session. Below is a transcript of a conversation with the governor.
Q: Whose idea was it to release a public service announcement?
A: I became concerned when a sixth student was diagnosed with the disease. I asked, “What can I do to help?” and folks (from the University of Oregon) came up with the PSA.
Q: What is the state’s goal for the number of students vaccinated?
A: I hear that our Ducks are doing really well. This is the highest amount of vaccinations we’ve seen during an outbreak, so I have to congratulate our UO students for taking the first step. We just want to make sure that our students are safe and healthy, and vaccinations are the key way to get there.
Q: Do you have a target number, though?
A: We’d obviously like to get everyone (undergraduates) but we know that’s probably not going to happen.
Q: And why is that?
A: I think students are just busy. They’re worried about their next final, they’re juggling classes, and it’s just a challenge. It’s not unusual. The vaccination rate is high; we just want to get it higher so we can prevent any future outbreaks.
Q: This strain of vaccine hasn’t been used on a large amount of people before. What would you say to those who are hesitant?
A: This is a generational challenge. In my generation, we grew up with the possibility of getting any number of serious childhood diseases, so my generation was quite rigorous about getting our vaccines. As a result, a number of diseases that were present when I was born are virtually disappearing. I think there’s a lot of mythology now surrounding vaccinations, and I think we need to look at the facts.
Q: Is there a fear that this disease could spread to the rest of the state if enough students don’t get vaccinated?
A: We’re just concerned about students at this point.
The PSA comes after a mass-vaccination effort hosted by the university at Matthew Knight Arena in early March. About 8,000 undergraduates received the first round of shots for the new Type B meningitis vaccine.
Since January, six students have been diagnosed with meningococcemia, and on Feb. 16 freshman student Lauren Jones died from complications related to the illness.