The Illinois Department of Public Health is urging students getting ready to depart for the University of Illinois to get a mumps shot.
There has been an outbreak of the disease at the school’s Champaign-Urbana campus in recent weeks. Medical leaders say a booster shot could help stop it from spreading — even if the student has already had one or two previous mumps shots.
“We continue to see new mumps infections in students at the university and are working to stop the spread,” IDPH director Nirav D. Shah said. “While most cases on campus have already received two doses of MMR, (the mumps, measels and rubella vaccine), a third dose may help control the outbreak.
“Although the vaccine against mumps is extremely effective, it is not perfect,” Shah said. “That is why it is important that those who can be vaccinated to take that extra step and potentially help protect those around them.”
Department of Public Health leaders urge University of Illinois students to get the vaccine as soon as possible because classes will be starting soon and it takes about two weeks to become fully effective.
Students are also asked to be especially careful to practice good hygene to prevent the spread of the diseases including washing hands frequently with soap and water, not sharing eating utensils or drinking cups, minimizing contact with sick people and frequently cleaning often touched surfaces like counter and table tops.
Locally, university leaders said they aren’t afraid that the mumps outbreak will spread to their student bodies. And, if it does, they say they are well prepared to handle it.
“McKendree University requires proof of immunization for MMR and also a TD (tetanus, diphtheria) booster shot within 10 years, for all students, as required by Illinois state law,” school spokesperson Lisa Brandon said. “Therefore, the university is not offering shots because students are required to submit immunization forms showing proof of vaccination before they arrive on campus.
“McKendree strongly encourages students to have their shot records on file before they move into the residence halls, and no later than the first day of class, Monday, Aug. 31,” Brandon said. “We are aware of the recently reported cases of mumps at other schools. If an outbreak of mumps were to occur, the university would activate its pandemic plan, which includes quarantine for any students who are affected.”
The St. Clair County Health Department is offering MMR vaccines to people up to 19 years old Monday and Tuesday from 8 a.m. until 4 p.m.
Parents must accompany children under 18 and the person who is getting the vaccine must bring their immunization records.
Shots are free through the Vaccines For Children program if their insurance does not pay for immunizations, if you have an active Medicaid card, if you do not have insurance or if you are Native American or Alaskan.
To make an appointment for a vaccination, call 618-233-6170. For more information, got to the St. Clair County Health Department web site.