Measles Update: Chicago Department of Public Health reports three new cases, continues efforts to curb spread 

March 12, 2024

CDPH Public Information Office:

CHICAGO - The Chicago Department of Public Health (CDPH) confirmed three more measles cases Tuesday from the new arrivals shelter in Pilsen as the agency continued to coordinate a comprehensive, city-wide response to the first measles cases in Chicago in five years. A team from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) arrived in Chicago Tuesday to support the efforts to curb spread of the highly infectious virus.

The three new cases brings the total to eight in the last week, one of which was unrelated to the new arrivals mission. CDPH continues to conduct case investigations into these cases in order to identify unvaccinated people who may have come into contact with them while they were infectious. First and foremost, though, CDPH encourages all new arrivals and all Chicagoans to get the measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine if they haven't already done so.

“While we're seeing new cases every day, this is not like the COVID-19 outbreak. The vast majority of Chicagoans are vaccinated against measles and therefore not at high risk,” said CDPH Commissioner Olusimbo 'Simbo' Ige, MD, MPH. “But those who are unvaccinated need to take precautions and if they're exposed, quarantine immediately and connect with your healthcare provider. Above all else, get vaccinated so you, too, can be protected from this virus.”

The Department of Family and Support Services (DFSS) and the Office of Emergency Management and Communications (OEMC) continued to work with the state on Tuesday to relocate residents of the Pilsen shelter to designated hotel spaces and other shelter locations in order to create more space for quarantine.

Representatives from the CDC arrived in Chicago to support the response by providing guidance for symptom monitoring protocols, quarantine and isolation practices specific to shelter settings, and coordination for the ongoing vaccination campaign across Chicago's various new arrival shelters. CDPH is also working closely with other city agencies, Cook County Health and the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH), and various community and healthcare partners.

“IDPH is working to coordinate state assistance to support our local public health partners as they contend with a measles outbreak that reflects an ongoing national rise in measles this year,” said IDPH Director Dr. Sameer Vohra. “While the vast majority of Chicago and Cook County residents are vaccinated for measles and not at risk, we strongly support the call from the Chicago Department of Public Health for all unvaccinated residents to get the measles/mumps/rubella (MMR) vaccine now. Measles is highly contagious and can cause serious complications for those that are non-immunized.” 

Over the last days CDPH and partners have assessed nearly all the residents of the Pilsen shelter, vaccinating around 900 and confirming immunity for the remainder, meaning they were either previously vaccinated or had been infected so were protected. CDPH-coordinated teams have now moved on to other shelters throughout the city to provide vaccinations to those who have not yet received them.

CDPH and OEMC are also maintaining a standing presence at the City's Landing Zone, providing vaccination for measles to individuals as they arrive in Chicago. New arrivals are screened and directed to follow-up care with Cook County Health or other partner providers if needed, with the most emergent cases receiving top priority. All new arrivals who have been vaccinated or provide proof of vaccination will be placed into temporary shelters.

The United States is currently experiencing a resurgence of measles, and cases have been reported in 17 states so far. Measles is a highly contagious and serious respiratory infection that causes a rash and high fever and is capable of leading to pneumonia and other complications and can be particularly challenging for babies and young children. 

All Chicagoans are encouraged to review their immunization records or contact their healthcare provider to make sure they are up to date on the measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine. Immunization records recorded in the Illinois immunization registry can be accessed using the Illinois Department of Public Health Vax Verify portal .

MMR vaccine is available at most doctor’s offices and pharmacies. Illinois children as young as 7 years old can get vaccinated at pharmacies under Illinois law. CDPH Immunization clinics provide MMR vaccine for no out-of-pocket cost to any child 0–18 years and uninsured adults 19 and older. For more information on measles please visit the CDPH website.

A first dose of the MMR vaccine is recommended at 12 months of age and a second at 4 to 6 years of age, but it is never too late to get your MMR vaccine if you haven't already. CDPH offers MMR vaccinations at no cost for uninsured adults and children eligible for the Vaccines For Children program at our various health clinics around Chicago. Adults who aren't sure if they're vaccinated against measles should contact their health care provider. For more information about measles and how you can protect yourself, visit the CDC website.

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