Health

The Louisville Department of Public Health and Wellness is holding two clinics later in April to provide low-cost vaccinations for chickenpox and measles, mumps and rubella. There have been reports measles outbreaks in a handful of cities across the U.S., as well as a chickenpox outbreak in northern Kentucky.

Dr. Lori Caloia, Louisville Department of Public Health and Wellness medical director, said the city is offering the clinics in part because of upcoming Derby season.

“We’re concerned about the upcoming local festivities with the Derby and Thunder and all of our activities leading up to that, and the travelers that come into town,” Caloia said. “We also see international travelers coming to Derby, and certainly other countries are some of the sources where we have seen some of those measles cases from.”

Some of the measles cases have been linked to people who traveled to countries where the illness is more widespread. But in the U.S., there have also been recent reported outbreaks, including  in New York City, New Jersey, California, Washington state and Rockland County in New York state. Two cases of the measles, a highly contagious disease, were reported in Kentucky near Bowling Green last week.

Also in Kentucky, an outbreak of chickenpox at Assumption Academy in Walton prompted the health department there to ban unvaccinated students from school and other activities temporarily.

Later this month, Mayor Greg Fischer is scheduled to deliver his city budget to Metro Council. Fischer’s proposal will include substantial cuts to city services in an effort to fill a projected $35 million hole next fiscal year, which the city says is due to an increased pension obligation and rising employee health care costs.

Among the list of potential cuts released by the city in February, was the health department’s immunization program. Caloia said a core function of the department is to control the spread of communicable diseases, which is why they offer clinics like the one coming up.

“Losing that program would potentially have a major impact, obviously, on that disease assurance, or prevention,” Caloia said.

The public clinics will be held at the University of Louisville Vaccine and International Travel Clinic at 501 W. Broadway on Friday, April 19 from 5 – 8 p.m., and on Saturday, April 20 from 10 a.m. – 2 p.m.

Vaccines cost $40 per dose. Caloia said this clinic’s prices are  much cheaper than the regular price of $80-$120 per dose for measles, mumps and Rubella vaccine, and the $100-$150 per dose for chickenpox vaccine. Insurance will not be accepted at the clinic.

Lisa Gillespie is WFPL's Health and Innovation Reporter.