Health officials urge parents to vaccinate their kids ahead of 2019-2020 school year

The current school year hasn't ended just yet, but city and school health officials have already asked parents to get their child vaccinated before the start of the 2019-2020 school year.

Posted: Apr 30, 2019 6:13 PM

(ST. JOSEPH, Mo.) The current school year hasn't ended just yet, but city and school health officials have already asked parents to get their child vaccinated before the start of the 2019-2020 school year.

The St. Joseph School District said kindergarten registration for the upcoming school year began April 30th. Any child entering kindergarten will be required to have a specific set of vaccinations before attending school.

Connie Werner, Clinic Supervisor with the City of St. Joseph Health Department, said one of the immunizations the students will be required to get is a second dose of the measles, mumps and rubella vaccine.

"It's so important to stress the importance of getting those vaccines in, especially at the correct age," Werner said. "You can get them wherever vaccines are available."

Werner told KQ2 the vaccines are even more important following the outbreak of measles in the United States. 

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) reported 704 cases of measles have been reported in 22 states, including one case in Missouri. CDC officials said the number of cases hit a 25-year record.

Dr. Cynthia Brownfield, Mosaic Life Care, said the outbreak is largely due to the anti-vaccine movement that spread on social media. 

“Most of it stems from false information and it’s a very strong hold - they [parents] feel very strongly about these beliefs," Brownfield said. "But, these beliefs have been well debunked by multiple, multiple studies.”

Brownfield said before the measles vaccine was invented in 1963, about 3-4 million people (usually children under the age of five) would get the virus per year.

The symptoms for measles typically begins with a fever, cough and runny nose. Brownfield said around day four or five of being contagious, a red rash will appear on the face and body.

"The most important thing is to get vaccinated. No vaccine is 100 percent, but measles is a really good vaccine. It's been proven safe," Brownfield said.

Although no measles cases have been reported in the Northwest region of Missouri, the St. Joseph School District said they are prepared for the worst.

"We try not to live in fear but we try to be prepared," Maria Burnham, Coordinator of Health Services at St. Joseph School District, said. "What we would do if we had any cause for suspicion of any kind of infectious disease is get in contact with our Health Department."

Burnham said less than one percent of students in the district have an exemption and are not vaccinated. 

"We monitor all of our kids. If they come in to see us, we monitor every situation," Burnham said. "We know what to watch for."

The St. Joseph Health Department has urged parents to contact them at (816) 271-4636 with any questions concerning vaccinations, or how to get your child vaccinated.

Parents are able to get their kids vaccinated beginning this week.

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