The number of mumps cases in Iowa has nearly reached one-thousand and the director of the Iowa Department of Public Health today announced a campaign of mass vaccinations.
Doctor Mary Mincer-Hansen says the campaign will target 18 to 22-year-olds in 35 counties. Those counties will get 25-thousand doses of the mumps-measles and rubella vaccine, or M-M-R in the first phase of the campaign.
She says the counties will receive the vaccine based on a formula of their total population of 18 to 22-year-olds and the number of college students in the county.
Mincer-Hansen says the vaccinations are being offered for free. Mincer-Hansen says they’re asking the 18 to 22-year-olds who got just one mumps shot or none at all to get the vaccine. She says this college age group is the most likely to get and spread the mumps.
Mincer-Hansen says college students who can get to their doctor are encouraged to do so as soon as possible. She says they ask people in the age group that have health insurance to go to their doctor if they can do so in a timely manner — otherwise they should go to a clinic.
Mincer-Hansen says the number of mumps cases has hit 975 and the continued escalation of cases caused them to institute the vaccination plan. She says they looked at the trends and there were starting to be an increase in the daily mumps cases, “And that was the trigger that we were looking for as we came up with this vaccination strategy.” Mincer-Hansen says it’s important to get the young people vaccinated before the school year ends. She says they want to catch the students before they go home. Mincer-Hansen says they encourage parents to tell students to go get the vaccine.
Mincer-Hansen says the target counties also have a large population of 18 to 22-year-olds that may not be in college, but have close contact with college students who could spread the mumps. Mincer-Hansen says the second phase of the campaign in May will make the mumps vaccine available to the other 64 counties.
The Health Department director also urges everyone to take preventative measures to prevent the spread of mumps. She says you can cover your mouth when you cough or sneeze, wash your hands when you cough, and stay home if you have the mumps. Mincer-Hansen also says you should call ahead to your doctor if you think you have the mumps, so they can make arrangements to keep you from infecting others.
The times of the immunization clinics will be set by local health officials. The counties targeted in the first phase of the campaign are: Black Hawk, Bremer, Buchanan, Buena Vista, Cerrro Gordo, Clinton, Decatur, Des Moines, Dubuque, Emmet, Fayette, Hardin, Henry, Jefferson, Johnson, Lee, Linn, Mahaska, Marion, Marshall, Muscatine, O’Brien, Polk, Pottawattamie, Poweshiek, Scott, Sioux, Story, Union, Wapello, Warren, Webster, Winnebago, Winneshiek and Woodbury.