Rate of national measles cases highlights importance of vaccination

For Immediate Release
March 21, 2024

Media Contact:

Lisa Cox
Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services


Rate of national measles cases highlights importance of vaccination

JEFFERSON CITY, MO – As vaccine uptake continues to decrease, measles cases or outbreaks have emerged in several states, including Missouri earlier this year. Nationally, the total number of measles cases has already reached the level that occurred during the entire year of 2023. With cases reported across the country, the Missouri Department of Health & Senior Services (DHSS) recommends parents and guardians check their child’s vaccination records to make sure they have received the measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine. This vaccine has been used in the United States since the 1970s and is a safe and effective way to protect children from measles. To be fully immunized, children are recommended to receive two doses of the MMR vaccine, with the first dose between ages 12-15 months and the second dose between ages 4-6 years old. Infants as young as 6 months can receive the first dose if traveling to areas where the measles infection rate is high. Families should consult their health care provider to discuss appropriate vaccine options for their children.

Herd immunity, achieved through a measles vaccination rate of 95% or more is crucial for preventing disease outbreaks in the community and protecting vulnerable populations who cannot receive vaccines.


“Achieving this level of vaccination creates a barrier that limits the spread of infectious disease within a community, safeguarding those who are unable to be vaccinated due to their age or compromised immune systems,” said Dr. George Turabelidze, state epidemiologist with DHSS.

Statewide, the MMR vaccination rate among kindergarteners has dropped steadily from 95.4% in the 2016-2017 school year to 90.5% at the start of the 2023-2024 school year, according to preliminary data reported by Missouri school districts. Religious (non-medical) exemptions have simultaneously increased from 1.9% to 3.5%.


The measles vaccine, given as part of the MMR (measles, mumps and rubella) vaccine, is extremely effective, giving those vaccinated with just one dose 93% protection against measles infection. Both doses of the vaccine provide individuals with a 97% protection rate throughout their lifetime.


Measles is a highly contagious and serious disease, especially serious for children under age five and those who are immunocompromised. Common symptoms include a rash that starts as flat red spots on the head and spreads to other parts of the body, high fever, cough, runny nose, red and watery eyes, and tiny white spots inside the mouth. But in some instances, individuals with measles will develop brain infection, which can lead to brain damage, and for some the disease is fatal even with the best care.


The virus spreads through coughing and sneezing and can live for up to two hours in an airspace after an infected person leaves an area. A person can spread measles without knowing they are infected. If not treated, complications can grow in severity.

Most health insurance plans cover vaccines, but individuals should check with their insurance provider to verify coverage. For those without insurance, the Vaccines for Children Program, funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), provides free vaccines to children who qualify.


Additionally, most local public health agencies throughout the state of Missouri offer vaccinations at affordable rates. To find a local public health agency near you and schedule an appointment, visit the Local Public Health Agency Directory.


FREE Car Seat Safety Checks! Thursday, April 4th

No appointment is needed for this FREE event! Join us on Thursday, April 4th from 2-5pm in our south parking lot. Our Certified Passenger Safety (CPS) technicians will educate you on the best ways to keep your child safe in the car by using the right car seat in the right way. Our team will be checking for proper installation and usage of your infant and child car seats, and it is preferred that your children be present, so they can ensure proper fitting AND the kiddos can learn too!

Can’t make it? No problem, just call and make an appointment with us! Learn more from our website here >>>

Here are some car seat safety tips to protect your most precious cargo:

  • Road injuries are the leading cause of preventable deaths and injuries to children in the United States.
  • Correctly used child safety seats can reduce the risk of death by as much as 71 percent.
  • More than half of car seats are not used or installed correctly.
  • Click here to learn more>>>


download the flyer >>>

Breastfeeding Support Group Survey

Our WIC (Women, Infants and Children) Program would love to see more breastfeeding mothers attend our support group in the new year! These groups typically last up to an hour and we would love your feedback as to when you are most likely to attend.




Pike County Health Department is urging our communities to do your part in reducing the risk of communicable illnesses this holiday season. The best way to prevent hospitalizations from communicable diseases such as influenza, COVID and RSV is by getting your recommended immunizations. Vaccination is extremely important for those who are immune compromised, diabetic, have heart conditions and/or have other underlying conditions. Not only should older adults receive the flu vaccine, but healthy individuals as well. It is important to protect yourself as well as those around you. Pregnant women, speak with your doctor about getting the flu vaccine to help protect your unborn child. Healthy, non-symptomatic individuals can transmit the flu virus to others around them unknowingly.  It takes up to two weeks to build immunity after getting your vaccination, so getting yours soon is an important step in preventing the spread of these viruses.

The CDC advisory below only strengthens our message about the importance of getting your vaccinations to help reduce your risk of severe disease, including pneumonia, hospitalization, and death. When suffering from these illnesses it also reduces your immune system making you more susceptible to other infections making recovery difficult and lengthy.

Our office offers Flu & COVID vaccinations during our Walk-In Clinic hours Monday- Friday from 8:00am – 12:00 pm & from 1:00 pm – 4:00pm.

We will also be open THIS SATURDAY, DECEMBER 16th from 9:00am – 11:00am in an attempt to have the flu vaccine available to those who are unable to receive it during those times. 


If you have any questions regarding seasonal vaccinations please contact our office and ask to speak with one of our Public Health Professionals 573-324-2111.


Distributed via the CDC Health Alert Network
December 14, 2023, 12:15 PM ET

Urgent Need to Increase Immunization Coverage for Influenza, COVID-19, and RSV Immunizations and Use of Authorized/Approved Therapeutics in the Setting of Increased Respiratory Disease

Reports of increased respiratory disease have been described in multiple countries recently. CDC is tracking increased respiratory disease activity in the United States for several respiratory pathogens, including influenza viruses, SARS-CoV-2, and RSV, across multiple indicators such as laboratory test positivity, emergency department visits, wastewater, and hospitalizations. Currently, the highest respiratory disease activity in the United States is occurring across the southern half of the country, with increasing activity in northern states.

In the past 4 weeks, hospitalizations among all age groups increased by 200% for influenza, 51% for COVID-19, and 60% for RSV. As of December 1, 2023, the weekly percentages of pediatric emergency department visits for pneumonia due to multiple etiologies were increasing since September in children, but remains consistent with prior fall and winter respiratory activity. To date, 12 pediatric influenza deaths have been reported during the 2023–2024 season. From September 1 through December 10, 2023, CDC received 30 reports of MIS-C, a rare complication that typically occurs 1 month after SARS-CoV-2 infection, with illness onset among cases occurring from August 6 to November 9, 2023, a relative increase compared with previous months. High RSV activity is also occurring across much of the United States.

Influenza, COVID-19, and RSV can result in severe disease, especially among unvaccinated persons. Infants, older adults, pregnant people, and people with certain underlying medical conditions remain at increased risk of severe COVID-19 and influenza disease. Infants and older adults remain at highest risk of severe RSV disease; it is the leading cause of infant hospitalization in the United States. Vaccination for influenza, COVID-19, and RSV reduces the risk of severe disease, including pneumonia, hospitalization, and death. Vaccination for COVID-19 can also reduce the risk of MIS-C and post-COVID conditions.


Read more from this CDC health advisory here >>>


Please join us for a baby shower! Free and open to the public! If you are an expecting mother or have a child under the age of 12 months we hope you will join us! We will have free gifts and refreshments! LIMITED SEATING AVAILABLE! Please RSVP using the online form below to save your spot! Must be a resident of Pike County, MO.

When: Tuesday, May 30th from 2-4pm

Where: Pike Co Health Dept. Community Conference Room (side entrance)

*This event is full. Please contact our agency if you would like to be placed on our wait list!*

NEW! Patient Portal!

We are so excited to announce we now have a patient portal!

A patient portal is a secure online website that gives patients convenient, 24-hour access to personal health information from anywhere with an Internet connection. Using a secure username and password, patients can view immunization, vitals and lab result records as well as appointment and scheduling options.

When you visit our walk-in clinic you will be asked if you would like to sign up for the patient portal. You will receive an email invitation with a link that connects you to another secure site where you set up your portal user account. If you have used our services before you can visit our agency during our hours of operation to request an invite.


Are you ready to start a career in a family-oriented, compassionate and comfortable work environment? Here is your chance! We are currently hiring for the following positions. Learn more and apply online here!

  • RN Case Manager (Full Time) Up to $5,000 Sign-On Bonus! Competitive Pay!
  • LPN Home Health & Hospice Admissions Coordinator (Full Time)
  • LPN Public Health Walk-In Clinic Nurse (Full Time)
  • RN Case Manager or LPN Field Staff Nurse (PRN)
  • Physical Therapist (PRN)

All day Covid-19 Vaccines!

Everyone 6 Months and Older Should Get a COVID-19 Vaccine

COVID-19 vaccination has many benefits and is an important tool to help protect you from severe illness, hospitalization, and death.

We will be hosting a COVID vaccine clinic this Thursday, from 7:30 am – 5:00 pm at our office – NO APPOINTMENT NECESSARY!

The following vaccines will be available WHILE SUPPLIES LAST:
– Moderna (Primary and Bivalent)
– Pfizer (Primary and Bivalent)
– Novavax (Primary) 

Not sure if you need a vaccine? Not sure which one you should get? Click here and let the CDC help!