University of Pittsburgh
April 8, 2001


Contact:  412-624-4147

PITTSBURGH, Apr. 9 -- The Children's Hospital Ronald McDonald Care Mobile and the Highmark Healthy Places Bus will be dispensing free measles booster shots at the Giant Eagle on Shakespeare Street in East Liberty from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Friday, April 13, and Saturday, April 14. Medical personnel will be on hand to administer the measles boosters to school age children at no cost to the families. Families who qualify will also be able to sign up for free health insurance, and other health education information will be available.

A parent or guardian should accompany the child who will be receiving the booster vaccination, in order to sign the required consent form. If parents are not sure if their child has been vaccinated, or if they can't find the records, they can have their child receive the free booster, because there is no harm in having a second immunization.

The free vaccinations are being offered under the auspices of the Greater Pittsburgh Measles Immunization Task Force, a group that was organized to respond to a civic crisis that could adversely affect thousands of school children here in Allegheny County. Because of changes in state law, elementary and secondary schools will be required to suspend students who have not provided documentation of their measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) booster vaccinations by April 30. Despite repeated efforts by the Pittsburgh Public Schools to alert the families to this situation, 11,200 of their students still have not complied with that regulation.

The task force, which includes university and community leaders, was convened by University of Pittsburgh Chancellor Mark A. Nordenberg and Pittsburgh Public Schools Superintendent John Thompson to address this problem. The chair of the task force's executive committee is Stephen Thomas, director of the Center for Minority Health at the University of Pittsburgh.

Their aim, over the next month, is to work with leaders and volunteers from all sectors of the community to assist public health officials in ensuring the health of all children in school while also ensuring that their education is not interrupted by a failure to comply with state law. The task force will concentrate on informing the community of the need to update the students' immunization records, along with providing opportunities in the schools and community clinics, such as the one next Friday and Saturday, to provide the MMR booster to students who have not received it.