SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - The federal Food and Drug Administration has approved the use of an unlicensed vaccine to stop the spread of meningitis at UC Santa Barbara after four students were diagnosed with the disease in November.
UCSB and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention started giving out the shots Monday afternoon. There are enough vaccines for the 18,000 undergraduate students.
Four cases might not seem like a lot, but a representative for the CDC said there is an outbreak of meningitis.
"While most people do recover, about one in four people actually die from this infection and another one in four people have long-term sequelae such as limb loss, or they have skin scarring, or neurologic deficits afterwards," said Amanda Cohn of the CDC.
Freshman Aaron Loy was one of the four students to get menintitis B and his feet were amputated.
The word of the disease spread quickly throughout campus.
"Really intense and it was worrisome too, going out and being afraid of potentially catching it," said Valerie Engel, a UCSB student.
Engel was one of the first students to get the vaccine which was specifically approved for her campus.
It's been used in other countries but not across the board in the United States.
"This is actually the second university that we are using this vaccine in. And it's really when we feel like there's potential for additional cases in an outbreak situation against this specific strain," said Cohn.
The FDA gave Princeton the green light to use it in December.
Signs were posted on campus and emails sent to students letting them know the vaccine was available and free.
"I was vaccinated for meningitis before coming in, before my freshman year, but it was only for two of the strains and this strain didn't have a vaccine that was approved. I was definitely way more worried in November but now that it is approved, why not get it? It's a simple step to prevent something huge," said Shayan Najnadadi, a UCSB student.
The vaccines will be given out for two weeks, but that's just round one. The students will have to get a second shot in two months to make sure they are protected from the meningitis B strain.