Measles Epidemic Shows No Sign of Slowing Down

May 14, 2019
NPR/Eric Risberg /AP

The current measles epidemic in the United States is showing no sign of slowing down.  The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports half of all states in the U.S. are now reporting active measles cases. 

Dr. Rebecca Shadowen, an infectious disease specialist with Med Center Health in Bowling Green, said even if you've been vaccinated, your immunity may have waned, and you'll need a booster shot.

"We need to be sure that we're immune if our communities can get immunized.  We can stop the outbreak," said Dr. Shadowen. "That's been the history of measles since we developed the vaccine.  Outbreaks have occurred, though not to this degree.  Re-immunizing our population makes a huge difference in that."

Dr. Shadowen encourages people to talk to their doctor about their measle vaccine status.  


Toni Wilkinson has seven children, three of them under six, and all of them home-schooled. So her house on a Lexington, Kentucky, cul-de-sac is rarely quiet.

Just inside the front door are bins filled with shoes, piles of jackets on a long bench. Across the room is the family library, crammed with school books. Crowded among them are controversial titles critical of vaccinations, the books Wilkinson used in her own homework researching vaccines.

Kentucky Derby Crowds Raise Fear Of Measles Outbreak

Apr 25, 2019

It’s a rainy spring evening in Louisville, less than two weeks from one of city’s biggest events: the Kentucky Derby. On May Fourth, people from across the U.S. and world stream into town to watch a day of horse racing.

With measles cases popping up around the U.S., public health officials and nurses are worried about the highly contagious virus spreading at the big race.

So they set up a vaccination clinic downtown, in a boxy, gray building off a busy street. Nurses stood at the ready to usher patients into individual rooms.

J. Tyler Franklin

Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin says he deliberately exposed his children to chickenpox so they would catch the highly contagious disease and become immune.

During a Tuesday interview on Bowling Green radio station WKCT, Bevin said his children were "miserable for a few days" after contracting chickenpox but said "they all turned out fine."

Bevin and his wife, Glenna, have nine children, four adopted.

The Republican governor said parents worried about chickenpox should have their children vaccinated. But he said government shouldn't mandate the vaccination.

Public Domain

As many Kentucky students head back to school this week, the state Department for Public Health is reminding parents to make sure children and teens are up to date on their vaccines

Students in kindergarten through 12th grade must show proof of having received two doses of the Hepatitis-A vaccine to attend school.  The commonwealth is in the grips of a Hepatitis-A outbreak with more than 400 confirmed cases in the past year.

As the measles outbreak continues to spread, political leaders with an eye on the White House in 2016 spent much of the week jumping into, and then trying to bail themselves out of, the vaccine debate.

Some brushed the issue off as an unnecessary media circus, but it's worth taking a look at its deeper political meaning. Here are five things the vaccine politics kerfuffle of 2015 tells us about the emerging field of presidential candidates for 2016.

1. Vaccination politics are a problem for Republicans — not Democrats.