Measles vaccine generic

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- The Louisville Health Department is taking precautions after six outbreaks of measles in the U.S.

The Kentucky Derby brings in thousands of visitors from all over the world, and that means there's a risk they could bring contagious illnesses with them. That's why the Louisville Metro Department of Public Health and Wellness reminds people that visitors are traveling to Louisville from outside the U.S. and from states where there are measles outbreaks.

As the outbreaks continue, doctors say now is a good time to get the MMR (Measles, Mumps and Rubella) vaccine -- in some cases, even if you already got one years ago.

"This year alone, there have been 555 cases," said Dr. Lori Caloia, Director of Louisville Metro Department of Public Health and Wellness. That was reported by the Centers for Disease Control last week -- April 11. That's nearly as high as what we saw in 2014."

Measles can be deadly, especially for children. Two to three out of every 1,000 people infected will die from the illness. The measles virus lives in the nose and throat mucus of an infected person, and is one of the most contagious diseases in the world, according to the Centers for Disease Control

The virus can spread to others through coughing and sneezing. It can live for up to two hours in the air where an infected person coughed or sneezed. The CDC says it's so contagious that up to 90% of the people close to the infected person who are not immune will also become infected.

Fortunately, the MMR vaccine is one of the most effective vaccines. 

"So far we have been able to evade this in Jefferson County. Our hope is to continue to see zero cases in Jefferson County," Caloi said. "In the state of Kentucky, there have been two cases of measles." 

This weekend (April 19 and 20), the Health Department is partnering with U of L to offer reduced-price vaccines. The shot clinic starts at 5 p.m. Friday, and continues through 8 p.m. On Saturday, shots will be offered from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the U of L Vaccine and International Travel Clinic on East Broadway, at Jackson Street.

The chickenpox vaccine will also be offered.

The vaccinations usually range in price from $100-$150 per dose, but will be available for $40 during the shot clinics. 

Because of the low cost, insurance is not accepted, but medical spending accounts will be accepted, along with cash and bank cards.  Uninsured individuals can also receive the vaccines from the Louisville Metro Department of Public Health and Wellness. Call (502)-574-5380 for information.

People in certain groups definitely need to get the vaccines.

"If you are uncertain if you've had your measles vaccine, we would want you to go out and get your vaccine," Caloia said. "You can do that through your healthcare provider. You can do that through the pharmacy."

Doctors say you you should also get the measles vaccine if you are in your 50s and were previously vaccinated between 1963-1967 when the vaccine may have been ineffective. Health officials also say people who received only one dose of the MMR vaccine between 1963 and 1991 should get another vaccine. 

Even people who were given MMR shots during their childhood are still at risk if they didn't receive the second booster shot.

Individuals who fall into one or more of the following categories should consider getting the shots:

  • Adults who do not have evidence of receiving 2 doses of MMR vaccine in the past
  • Children and adolescents under the age of 18 years should have received MMR vaccine and chickenpox vaccine from their pediatrician or primary care provider.  If not, they may come to one of the clinics for evaluation
  • Adults who do not have evidence of receiving 2 doses of chickenpox vaccine and have not had diagnosed chicken pox
  • Individuals preparing for international travel
  • Adults previously vaccinated between 1963-1967 (typically, adults now in their fifties) when the measles vaccine administered may have been ineffective
  • Adults previously vaccinated between 1963-1991 who may have received only a single dose of MMR vaccine
  • Anyone wanting to be vaccinated who is unsure of their vaccination status.

"Often, people are spreading the disease before they even realize they have it," Caloia said. "You may be around someone who doesn't have a rash or fever yet and they may be contagious."

The CDC says infected people can spread measles to others from four days before through four days after the appears.

Copyright 2019 WDRB News. All rights reserved.

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Valerie Chinn joined WDRB in 2001. She focuses on investigative journalism and anchors WDRB News at 11:30 and Noon. Got a tip? Reach Valerie at 502-585-0875 and vchinn@wdrb.com