Thousands of Kentucky kids need measles vaccines

Single Kentucky measles case in 2023 poses no further transmission risk

By: - February 4, 2023 2:24 am

A child receives a vaccine. Thousands of Kentucky children are not up to date on their measles vaccines. (Getty Images)

Where to find measles vaccinations in Kentucky 

JCPS is hosting a vaccine clinic on Feb. 4 from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. with a $20 incentive for students who get MMR (measles-mumps-rubella), flu or COVID-19 shots. That clinic will be at Newcomer Academy, 3741 Pulliam Drive in Louisville. 

The Louisville health department provides MMR vaccines by appointment. Call 502-574-5380 to schedule. 

Pharmacies like Walgreens and CVS also offer the measles vaccines throughout the state. 

One case of measles has been reported to the Kentucky Department of Public Health in 2023. 

A Cabinet for Health and Family Services spokeswoman said “there does not appear to be any risk of further transmission to the community” with the case. 

However, experts encourage people to be up to date on their measles vaccines for the best protection. 

CHFS reports that around 87% of Kentucky’s kindergarteners had documentation of two measles shots, which is below the national average of 94%, during the 2021-2022 school year.

Dr. Eva Stone, the Jefferson County Public Schools health manager, told the Louisville Board of Health on Wednesday that around 12,000 students in the district aren’t up to date on their measles shots. 

“We’re not making any forward progress on increasing access to vaccinations for students, which are primarily kids living in poverty and children of color,” Stone said of the “longstanding problem.” 

In Kentucky’s most populous city, Stone said, “We’ve got grave concerns with the measles outbreak in this city because of the outbreak … that has been in Columbus.” 

Central Ohio’s outbreak, which began in November, is mostly in unvaccinated people. According to data last updated Feb. 1, 80 of the 85 patients were unvaccinated. None have died. 

Measles is highly contagious and is spread through the air from coughs or sneezes, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. One infected person can infect nine in 10 unprotected people around them, the CDC says. 

Measles symptoms include fever, cough,runny nose, red eyes and a rash. The CDC recommends the measles vaccination series at 12-15 months and then at 4-6 years old. 

“This vaccine issue is a community issue,” Stone told the Louisville board of health. “What COVID certainly taught us is that there are significant trust issues as well.” 

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Sarah Ladd
Sarah Ladd

Sarah Ladd is a Louisville-based journalist from West Kentucky who's covered everything from crime to higher education. She spent nearly two years on the metro breaking news desk at The Courier Journal. In 2020, she started reporting on the COVID-19 pandemic and has covered health ever since. As the Kentucky Lantern's health reporter, she focuses on mental health, LGBTQ+ issues, children's welfare, COVID-19 and more.