AUSTIN (KXAN) — The University of Texas at Austin will require all new students to prove immunity to measles starting in the Fall 2020 semester.
The school said Fall 2020 students will not be able to register for classes, even during an orientation session, until University Health Services has received and processed documentation that proves a student has cleared all medical requirements.
The new immunization requirement doesn’t include students enrolling in Spring 2020 or Summer 2020 classes, according to the school’s UHS.
With nearly 52,000 students on campus, university leaders worry just one person testing positive for measles could create a health crisis.
“If there were to be an outbreak of measles on campus the affected individual would likely be quarantined,” said UHS Executive Director and Chief Medical Officer Dr. Terrance Hines. “Also, anyone who is not immunized or not vaccinated would also potentially be quarantined.”
In 2019 the Centers for Disease Control reported 1,282 measles cases in the U.S. That number was 3.4 times higher than the number of cases reported in 2018.
Last year Texas had 22 measles cases, according to the Texas Department of State Health Services.
In December, a person in Travis County was diagnosed with measles for the first time since 1999, according to the City of Austin.
“That recent case sort of justifies our rationale in moving forward, and that measles is out there and could affect the University of Texas campus,” Hines said.
Measles is a virus that is spread through the air when an infected person coughs or sneezes. Those who are not vaccinated are at high risk when around someone who has measles. Symptoms include cough, rash, fever and sore eyes.
UHS laid out its guidelines for evidence of measles immunity as any of the following — as long as the first dose is administered on or after the first birthday and the second dose is administered at least 28 days after the first dose:
- Two doses of Measles/Mumps/Rubella (MMR) vaccine
- Two doses of measles vaccine
- Two doses of measles, mumps, rubella, varicella (MMRV) vaccine
- Two doses of any combination of the three vaccines above
- A positive blood test showing protective antibodies to measles (must provide a copy of the official lab report)
The UHS website shows there are opportunities to request an exemption for medical or reasons of conscience/religious beliefs. The required documentation to request an exemption can be found on the UHS website.