Eighth-graders and high school seniors who attend public schools in Salt Lake and Utah counties had better roll up their sleeves.
The boards of health in Salt Lake and Utah counties have required that those students receive a second MMR (mumps, measles and rubella) immunization before they start class later this month.The mandate was handed down after a measles epidemic swept the country in 1989-90, infecting more than 40,000 people. Some 11,000 were hospitalized and 140 died. Health officials learned that about 5 percent of the people who had received one MMR shot are still susceptible to measles.
Kent Gardner, spokesman for the Granite School District, said the district will require proof of immunization when students register for school. "If the student doesn't have it, we simply won't register them," Gardner said.
But the Salt Lake City-County Health Department will provide on-site immunization clinics at area high schools to expedite the registration process. Junior high students should report to their feeder high schools to receive the immunizations. For clinic hours and dates, call the City-County Health Department at 468-2720.
The requirement adopted by Salt Lake and Utah counties supercedes state law, which has required students to have one MMR shot. However, new state law requires kindergarteners to have two doses of the combined immunization.
Immunizations are available at public health clinics and physicians offices and the "Slug-the-Bug" van, a mobile immunization service sponsored by CNS Home Health Plus and the Utah Department of Health.
"Measles are an extremely contagious disease and we've had our share," said Rick Crenshaw, immunization program manager for the Utah Department of Health.
"We had three consecutive years that we were one of the leading states in the country in terms of numbers of measles cases. In 1994, we were one the top three or four states for measles cases reported."
Under state law, schools are not supposed to allow children who are not adequately immunized to enroll or begin school, Crankshaw said.
The state allows three exemptions, however - medical, religious and personal/-philosophical signed either by a physician, clergy or parent. The forms are available at local health department offices.
The University of Utah imposed the requirement for a second MMR shot for incoming freshmen in the fall of 1993.
"We felt it (one shot) left the students inadequately immunized. We felt not everyone was immune to the measles with the first dose," said Kim Adams, the U.'s immunization program coordinator.