Vaccines offered at Morrow County Health Dept. at no cost

The Knox County Health Department has reported an outbreak of measles among residents who had recently traveled oversees on a humanitarian trip. As of April 26, 2014, there were 14 confirmed cases of measles in Knox County.

The Morrow County Health Department is holding a MMR immunization clinic on Wednesday, April 30, at Cardington-Lincoln Elementary School gymnasium, 121 Nichols Street, Cardington, from 4 to 6 PM. The clinic is for anyone born after 1957 who has never received the MMR vaccine or for anyone who still needs their second dose of MMR vaccine.

There will be no charge for the vaccine, which will be available for both children and adults. Pregnant women should not receive the vaccine, but if they think they have been exposed to someone with measles, they should contact their doctor immediately.

The clinic is being offered in response to over 14 confirmed cases of measles in Knox County, which comes on the heels of an ongoing outbreak of 278 mumps cases in Franklin and Delaware Counties. In recent months there have been a number of outbreaks of preventable diseases throughout the country, most notably in California, New York City, Boston, and Dallas. Similar to the suspected outbreak in Knox County, many of the measles outbreaks in the U.S. start when an unvaccinated individual has traveled abroad and contracted the disease there. Then, when they return to the U.S., they can spread measles among groups of other unvaccinated people.

The only way to avoid the measles is to be vaccinated. Since measles spreads so easily, it is one of the required vaccines for school attendance in Ohio. The measles vaccine is part of a triple dose vaccine that covers measles, mumps, and rubella and is commonly known as MMR. Children should be given the first dose of MMR vaccine at 12 to 15 months of age. The second dose can be given 4 weeks later, but is usually given before the start of kindergarten at 4 to 6 years of age. People born before 1987 are likely to have just one or no MMR vaccination doses and should be vaccinated.

Measles is a highly contagious respiratory disease caused by a virus that is easily spread through the air by breathing, coughing or sneezing. Symptoms include fever, cough, runny nose or red eyes, and a red blotchy rash that appears three to seven days after fever starts. The rash typically begins behind the ears and on the face, spreading down to the body, and finally to the arms and legs. Public health officials warn that anyone who is not immunized and gets exposed to the disease has a high likelihood of becoming ill.