Dubuque Schools say skipping vaccine isn't to blame for recent spread of mumps

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DUBUQUE, Iowa (KCRG-TV9) -- Dubuque school officials say skipping the measles, mumps and rubella or MMR vaccine is not to blame for the recent spread of mumps.

The measles, mumps and rubella vaccine was one of three given during a 15-month checkup for Karter McVay at UnityPoint Health pediatrics clinic in Hiawatha on Wednesday, Jan. 28, 2015. (Liz Martin/The Gazette)

So far this school year, doctors diagnosed 16 students and four staff members with mumps. A total of 32 people in Dubuque County have had the illness. That accounts for half the cases in the entire state.

The school district says it seems every day doctors diagnose another student with mumps. Mumps is spread when an affected person sneezes or coughs, so the school district is strongly encouraging sick students to stay home.

School custodians are using standard protocol for cleaning school buildings, so nothing above and beyond the norm.

The state of Iowa requires all students have two MMR vaccinations. The state grants exemptions for religious and other reasons. However, the Dubuque school district says all the students who've had mumps this year have had the full vaccination.

"We know the vaccine, even when you have had both MMRs, is still only 88 percent effective. So is this just that percentage of students that have been fully vaccinated who are getting the mumps because they were the small percentage that didn't have the effective immunity?" said Rhonda Ramler, health services coordinator at the Dubuque Community School District.