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DHSS Asks Schools to Help Prevent a Measles Outbreak


The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has reported a concerning measles outbreak across 17 states in the United States. As of March 21, 2024, there are 64 confirmed measles cases in the U.S., compared to 58 total cases reported for the entire year of 2023. Among the cases reported in 2024, over 90 percent were linked to international travel, and most have been among children aged 12 months and older who had not received the measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine.

Measles is a highly contagious and potentially serious viral illness. The virus spreads through coughing and sneezing and can live for up to two hours in an airspace after an infected person leaves an area. A person can spread measles without knowing they are infected.

Herd immunity, achieved through a measles vaccination rate of 95% or more, is crucial for preventing disease outbreaks in the community and protecting vulnerable populations who cannot receive vaccines. Statewide, the MMR vaccination rate among kindergarteners in Missouri has dropped steadily from 95.4 percent in the 2016-17 school year to 90.5 percent at the start of the 2023-24 school year, according to preliminary data reported by Missouri school districts. Religious (non-medical) exemptions have simultaneously increased from 1.9% to 3.5%.

The measles vaccine, given as part of the MMR (measles, mumps, and rubella) vaccine, is extremely effective, giving those vaccinated with just one dose 93% protection against measles infection. Both doses of the vaccine provide individuals with a 97% protection rate throughout their lifetime. 

The Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services requests your assistance in helping to prevent a measles outbreak in Missouri schools and ask that schools carry out the following recommendations:

  • Review immunization records of all students and make sure that all children are in compliance with state immunization requirements.
  • In accordance with public health law, if a student in your school develops measles, all students in your school who are not in compliance with the MMR requirements, even if they have a medical or religious exemption, should be offered a dose of MMR vaccine. If they receive it within 72 hours after their initial exposure to the case patient, they may remain in school. Otherwise, they must be excluded from school through 21 days after their most recent exposure to an infectious individual.
  • If you learn of any students with measles in your school, immediately contact your local county health department so they can ensure that control measures are implemented in a timely manner.
  • The measles vaccine, given in two doses of the MMR shot, is the best way to protect against measles. Children need one dose between 12-15 months old and a second dose before starting school around 4-6 years old.

For more information, including county-specific information about vaccination and exemption rates, visit Health.Mo.Gov/Measles.





School Health Program Team


School Health Program Specialist | Bureau of Community Health and Wellness

Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services

School Health Website


Marjorie Cole l [email protected]

Benjamen Pringer l [email protected]

Renee Falkner l [email protected]

Sarah Parrish l Sarah.Parrish@health.mo.gov


Public Health: Better Health. Better Missouri.


“This email is from the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services.  It contains confidential or privileged information that may be protected from disclosure by law.  Unauthorized disclosure, review, copying, distribution, or use of this message or its contents by anyone other than the intended recipient is prohibited.  If you are not the intended recipient, please immediately destroy this message and notify the sender at the following email address: 
[email protected] or by calling 573-522-2822.” 




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