vaccines | St. Louis Public Radio


A person prepares a measles-mumps-rubella vaccine, which protects against 93-97 percent of measles cases. Health officials say a case has been reported in Jefferson County.
Matthew Lotz / U.S. Air Force

Health officials in Jefferson County are trying to find people who may have come in contact with a person there who has caught measles.

The person caught the virus after traveling, according to officials at the Jefferson County Health Department. The department is “working directly with the case to identify potential contacts and make arrangements for follow up immunizations and care if necessary,” officials said in a release.

Measles infects the respiratory system and can cause deafness, blindness and can even be fatal in some rare cases. People who contract the measles develop a distinctive red, splotchy rash over their bodies. There is no specific antiviral treatment or medicine for measles, but giving a person a vaccine soon after they’ve been infected may lessen symptoms.

Sarah Fentem | St. Louis Public Radio

The number of cases reported in Missouri this flu season is only a fifth of last year’s, thanks in part to mild temperatures.

There have been 5,460 flu cases reported to the state since early October, according to the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services. That’s less than one-fifth the number of cases reported during the same period in 2018.

The 2017-2018 flu season was one of the worst in recent memory. In Missouri alone, more than 300 people died from the flu.

A flu vaccine dose beside several needles.
Daniel Paquet | Flickr

Missouri health officials are urging people to get a flu shot this year to prevent a repeat of 2017’s brutal flu season.

As of Oct. 6, health officials have recorded more than 60 lab-confirmed cases of the flu in Missouri, according to the state Department of Health and Senior Services. The agency still lists flu activity as “sporadic,” meaning individual cases have been detected but not a regional outbreak.

A flu shot “remains the best way to protect people from becoming ill or becoming hospitalized or even dying,” said Sharon Frey, clinical director of the Saint Louis University Center For Vaccine Development.

No vaccine against rumors

Jan 17, 2011

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Jan. 17, 2011 - When Tom Wombacher first heard media reports about vaccines being potentially harmful and that some celebrities had stopped giving them to their children, he had his suspicions about the reliability of the information.

"I didn't think it was completely accurate," said the 33-year-old Overland resident whose son Nolan was born in last May.

Still, it gave him pause. He found himself surfing the internet on the topic.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Oct. 29, 2009 - Former U.S. Sen. Jim Talent, R-Mo., has taken on a starring role in a regional and national political debate that is heating up as supplies of flu vaccine continue to be tight.

The issue? After 60 years, why does the United States still use chicken eggs to produce vaccines?

On Science: Continuing search for an AIDS vaccine

Sep 9, 2009

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Sept. 9, 2009 - AIDS was much in the news last week, as researchers reported progress in the decades-long search for a vaccine. While this was certainly reason for good cheer, the news reports were muted at best. This is a road we have been down before, and often.

I wrote my first ON SCIENCE column on AIDS in July 1997, and have returned to the subject nine times in the following 10 years to report advances of one sort or another in the on-going battle to defeat HIV.

It's flu season, wash your hands

Sep 4, 2009

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Sept. 4, 2009 - With the start of the school year comes a fresh to-do list for administrators like Lisa Harnacker, manager of health services at the Parkway School District. This year, unlike many others, prioritizing is easy: anything related to the H1N1 virus, commonly known as swine flu, comes first.

"It's right up there on top of the list because it's what's here and now," Harnacker said.