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.



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 >>>

Sickness on the rise in Pike County!

It likely goes without saying that there are many unwelcomed illnesses arriving at your household this holiday season. Our communicable disease nurse reports that the COVID level is high as well as flu; especially influenza A. We are also aware that strep throat and RSV is hitting our county hard. We want to take this time to remind everyone to take these proper preventative precautions to keep yourself, your family and friends safe during this holiday season:

  1. Check with your healthcare provider on vaccines you may be eligible for to help prevent illness such as Flu, Pneumonia and Covid.
  2. Take everyday preventive measures to help reduce the spread of illnesses:
    1. Avoid close contact with sick people
    2. If you are sick, limit contact with others as much as possible
    3. Do not go to work or school if you are sick
    4. Cover coughs and sneezes
    5. Wash your hands often with soap and water. If soap and water are not available, use alcohol-based hand sanitizer
    6. Avoid touching eyes, nose and mouth
    7. Clean and disinfect surfaces and objects

COVID-19 Boosters Temporarily Out-of-Stock

Per the CDC guidance released on 8/31/22 PCHD currently does not have the appropriate COVID 19 vaccines on hand to provide booster shots to anyone 12 years and older at this time.  We are working on getting the bivalent COVID-19 vaccines authorized for booster shots and we will announce when these become available.

We will notify when we are re-stocked! We sincerely apologize for the inconvenience.



Stay on track with your child’s vaccinations

As a parent, you want to keep your children safe. Routine childhood vaccinations are an important way to ensure that your child and community remain healthy and protected against serious diseases, like measles and whooping cough.

Pike County Health Department encourages parents to make sure children are up to date on routinely recommended vaccines. Well-child visits and check-ups are essential for routine vaccination, even during the pandemic.

You can also review the 2022 easy-to-read immunization schedule recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).  If you’re pregnant, now is a great time to find a doctor for your baby and schedule a visit to discuss any questions you have about vaccines.

For more information about vaccines and the diseases they prevent, visit these resources from the CDC:

If you have questions about vaccines, talk to your child’s healthcare provider. If you are in need of your child’s shot records we can get copies for you at no charge that will show all of their immunizations that we or your physician has input into the State of Missouri’s Show-Me-Vax system.

We offer many immunizations at little to no cost to you at our Walk-In Clinic; Monday through Friday from 8am-12pm & from 1pm-4pm. Additionally, we offer extended hours prior to the start of the school year to make it easier for you to get your children the immunizations they need for school.

COVID-19 Community Impact Survey! / Encuesta del Impacto de COVID 19 a la Comunidad

Pike County Health Dept. is seeking the input from members of our community to better understand their needs.
Please take a moment for this brief and anonymous survey, you may also take it online here >>>


This survey is supported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) as part of a financial assistance award totaling $35,569,951 with 100 percent funded by CDC/HHS. The contents are thos e of the author(s) and do not necessarily represent the official views of, nor an endorsement, by CDC/HHS, or the U.S. Government.


El Departamento de Salud del Condado de Pike busca las opiniones de la comunidad. Queremos aprender mejor las necesidades de la comunidad para mejorar el bienestar de los vecinos. Le pedimos favor de completar esta encuesta. No necesitamos su nombre; mantenemos el anónimo. También Ud. puede completar la encuesta por internet en el sitio web: www.pikecountyhealth.org.


El Departamento de Salud y Servicios Humanos se apoyan esta encuesta como un parte du un premio financiero de $35,569,951. Cien porcentajes financiados por el CDC/HHS. La encuesta es do los autores y no se representan ni las opiniones ni es una aprobación del CDC/HHS ni el gobierno de los


CDC Strengthens Recommendations and Expands Eligibility for COVID-19 Booster Shots

CDC has expanded eligibility of COVID-19 vaccine booster doses to everyone 5 years of age and older, recommending that children ages 5 through 11 years should receive a booster shot 5 months after their initial Pfizer-BioNTech vaccination series.

Vaccination with a primary series among this age group has lagged behind other age groups leaving them vulnerable to serious illness.

CDC has also strengthened its recommendation that those 12 and older who are immunocompromised and those 50 and older should receive a second booster dose at least 4 months after their first.

While older Americans have the highest coverage of any age group of first booster doses, most older Americans received their last dose many months ago, leaving many who are vulnerable without the protection they may need to prevent severe disease, hospitalization, and death.

Learn More >>>

Catching up on routine childhood and adolescent immunizations

Missouri Dept. of Health & Senior Services PSA:

JEFFERSON CITY, MO – The COVID-19 pandemic has brought disruption to lives in many forms. For many children and families, even routine preventative healthcare has been disrupted. This National Infant Immunization Week, the Missouri Chapter, American Academy of Pediatrics (MOAAP) and Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS) highly encourage parents to ensure their children get caught up on or stay on track with routine vaccinations starting at birth to help protect them from serious diseases.

“As a parent, one of the best things you can do to protect your child is ensure that they see their doctor for well-child visits and recommended vaccines,” said Paula Nickelson, DHSS Acting Director. “Many vaccine-preventable diseases can have such devastating impacts, especially on vulnerable children. Assuring your child receives the vaccines can help you keep your child as healthy as possible.”

New CDC data show the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on routine childhood immunization. During the 2020-2021 school year, national vaccination coverage dropped from 95% to below 94%, which amounts to 35,000 more children across the U.S. entering kindergarten without documentation of complete vaccination against common diseases. Moreover, nearly 400,000 fewer children entered kindergarten than expected. Those children, too, might not be up to date on their routine vaccinations— further evidence of how pandemic-related disruptions to healthcare and education could have lingering consequences for school-age children.

Routine, safe and effective vaccinations during childhood help prevent 16 diseases. These diseases can have life-altering and sometimes tragic impacts on families. Severe symptoms can include:

  • Skin infections
  • Pneumonia (serious lung infection)
  • Long-term flu-like symptoms
  • Infections causing cancer
  • Severe dehydration
  • Seizures
  • Intense muscle spasms
  • Brain damage
  • Paralysis
  • Deafness (temporary or permanent)
  • Loss of limbs
  • Meningitis (swelling of the tissue covering the brain and spinal cord)
  • Encephalitis (swelling of the brain)
  • Orchitis (swelling of the testicles) in males who have reached puberty
  • Oophoritis (swelling of the ovaries) and/or mastitis (swelling of the breasts) in females who have reached puberty

The key is for infants, children and adolescents to keep up on their well-child visits for preventive care. These visits allow the doctor to track the child’s growth and development, provide recommended vaccinations and answer questions about the child’s health.

“Immunizations are a key tool to ensuring children stay healthy,” said Dr. Kristin Sohl, President, Missouri Chapter-American Academy of Pediatrics. “We encourage parents and caregivers to schedule well-child checks to ensure your child’s overall health and wellbeing, as well as getting them up-to-date on important vaccinations..”

Missouri falls just below the national average, ranking 30th among states, for children ages 0-17 completing one or more well-child visits in 2021.


“Childhood vaccines have all been studied in depth to determine the most appropriate time in a child’s life for them to be given,” said Dr. Rachel Orscheln, Associate Professor of Pediatrics in the Division of Infectious Diseases at Washington University in St. Louis Children’s Hospital. “We really want to vaccinate children at the earliest possible moment because young children, particularly infants, can be at risk of severe illness from certain infections.”


Among children born from 1994-2018, vaccinations will prevent an estimated 936,000 early deaths, 8 million hospitalizations and 419 million illnesses.


The Vaccines for Children program is funded by the CDC and provides free vaccines to children who qualify. Children 18 and under are eligible to receive free vaccines if they are Medicaid-eligible, do not have health insurance, are American Indian or Alaskan Native or are underinsured. Find the nearest Vaccines for Children program provider.



View the schedule of recommended childhood and adolescent vaccinations.




COVID-19 Vaccine Update: Walk-In’s Welcome!

March 31, 2022 PCHD COVID PSA

2 years of COVID-19 in Pike County, MO – Where are we now?

PIKE COUNTY, MO – Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic the Pike County Health Department has continued to implement mitigation strategies to help keep our communities safe and informed. Since 2020, our agency staff has worked hard to keep up with the ever-changing data, information and education in order to ensure we are giving the most up-to-date recommendations per CDC guidelines and apply them to our current county level situation. We continue to address many other public health issues with education and prevention strategies. We believe these last two years have prepared us to be even better at responding to any future COVID-19 surge and other public health emergencies.  We continue to promote and protect the health, safety, and well-being of all through the many services we have to offer. Our community has grown stronger together through these hard times and it makes us proud to continue serving such amazing individuals.

In the recent months we have slowly been making changes to our online reporting; you will see that we are currently updating positive case counts twice weekly. We have also added direct links that will take citizens directly to the CDC and MODHSS (Missouri Department Health & Senior Services) online COVID-19 dashboards for more data and statistics per county, state, and national levels.

Although we are no longer making contact with positive COVID-19 cases or contact tracing to the extent we were in the beginning of the pandemic, we continue to monitor these cases as we do with other communicable diseases; investigating outbreaks and offering recommendations to individuals and businesses on how to manage and/or mitigate the illness for their specific situation. We are seeing that our COVID-19 case managing duties are becoming increasingly similar to how we have always managed other communicable diseases, which we believe is a positive movement.

BEGINNING APRIL 1st, 2022 we will be offering COVID-19 vaccines daily with no appointment necessary for those ages 12 and up. Pediatric COVID-19 vaccines (ages 5-11) will still be required to make an appointment. Those interested can receive their vaccines at our office from 8am-12p and from 1-4pm. Walk-ins will be on a first come, first serve basis and are subject to availability just as any other vaccine we have to offer.

CDC now states that those who have had their primary doses (two dose series of Pfizer or Moderna OR a single dose of Johnson & Johnson) are considered fully vaccinated, and those who have received their primary doses along with their boosters are considered up to date on their COVID-19 vaccinations.

COVID-19 and its variants are still a large concern for many people. Those who are severely immunocompromised or unvaccinated are still at highest risk of contracting and spreading this virus. We continue to encourage everyone to keep themselves and their families safe by practicing good hygiene, staying home when sick and wearing a mask when in large public spaces. Staying up to date on the currently recommended vaccines is a largely effective way to fight against these viruses. Pike County Health Department is available and willing to answer any questions or concerns you may have regarding COVID-19 or any other agency matter. Reach us by calling 573-324-2111, by visiting our website at www.pikecountyhealth.org or follow us on social media.