The Salt Lake City-County Health Department is offering kindergarten-age children a free second round of vaccinations against rubeola, or "hard measles."

Utah has seen more rubeola cases this year than in any year in the past decade. As of last week, 135 cases were recorded statewide. That number has not been exceeded since 1976. Utah saw 114 cases in 1989.Both children and adults who have not been immunized a first time are especially encouraged to get the vaccination, said Rick Crankshaw, Health Department immunization program manager. A second dose is recommended.

"Unfortunately, there wasn't enough money to offer the free vaccine to other students. Parents (of children older) than kindergarten age may feel they're being cheated because they can get the second dose only if they pay substantially more. But it's a long-term strategy of trying to eliminate measles," Crankshaw said. "It will take 13 years, but the Center for Disease Control believes this is the only way to control the disease."

Adults born before 1957 are considered immune from the disease, which in its early stages has cold-like symptoms: cough, conjunctivitis and/or a running nose, along with a fever.

A 101-degree or higher temperature usually peaks about four days after symptoms start. Then a rash occurs, generally lasting about three days, Crankshaw said. While contracting rubeola is supposed to confer lifetime immunity, many people think they've had the illness when, in fact, they had something else, he said.

People who were born after 1956 are fine if they had an immunization after 1970. But people who haven't been immunized or were born after 1956 and immunized in the 1960s should consider getting the shot.

Nationally, more than 21,000 cases have been reported this year. Last year at this time, there were 12,237. A record number of people, 50, have died from the illness in California.

The cost of the vaccine in Health Department clinics to those who aren't in kindergarten is about $28.