MU offers Mumps vaccines to students amid rising concerns

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COLUMBIA - Local health officials began offering free MMR vaccines to MU students on Wednesday amid new cases of mumps reported in Springfield and questions about the effectiveness of a third vaccine shot

University of Missouri health officials teamed up with the Boone County Department of Public Health and Human Services to offer the vaccines from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. in Memorial Union Wednesday through Friday. 

"We know that there's still contagion and there's still spread happening and we want to do additional measures to try and see if we can reduce the number of cases in our MU students," said Dr. Susan Even, executive director of the MU Student Health Center.

The City of Columbia reported 39 confirmed or probable cases of mumps have been identified in Columbia this year through Feb. 7. Since August, 370 cases have been identified.

Five new cases have been identified in the Springfield school district and one case in Willard. 

KOMU 8 News reported earlier in February that a third non-mandatory MMR vaccine may not provide absolute protection against mumps, however all of the students who have gotten the mumps at the University of Missouri have already received two MMR vaccines.  

"This would be an additional third, recommended specifically to help with outbreaks," Even said.

Despite already having early MMR shots, some students who got the vaccine on Wednesday wanted to protect themselves and their families. 

"A friend from home, I just saw that he got it last week and I thought that we were in the clear and we're not," said Maddie Wehrle, a senior at MU. Wehrle is a member of the Greek community which has been more prone to mumps cases.

"They kinda told us we were the main epicenter of mumps," Wehrle said.

Megan Rehmer, another MU senior, wanted to keep her family healthy when she sees them soon. 

"I have a nephew who just turned 1 and I'm going to be visiting him soon, and if I gave him the mumps that would just kinda suck," Rehmer said. 

Even estimates the mumps outbreak risk could last for as long as a year, and recommends parents make sure their children are up to date on their MMR vaccines.