DAYTON, Ohio (WDTN) — An Ohio health official says declining vaccination rates have likely contributed to a measles outbreak in the state.
As of Thursday, Ohio had 82 confirmed cases of measles, 32 of which required hospitalization. All but five of the cases were in children aged 1-5 years and none of the patients were fully vaccinated; four had unknown vaccination statuses and at least 23 of the patients were ineligible for vaccination due to age, according to the Columbus Department of Public Health.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently reported on studies showing a significant drop in measles vaccination rates among eligible children, noting that approximately 40 million eligible children nationwide missed a doses in 2021.
“This decline is a significant setback in global progress toward achieving and sustaining measles elimination and leaves millions of children vulnerable to infection,” the CDC wrote in November.
Ohio health officials believe the decline is due to myths surrounding the measles vaccine that may still be prevalent.
“Vaccination hesitancy is something we’re all going to pay dearly for over the next few years because of the COVID fiasco,” said Charles Patterson, health commissioner for the Clark County Combined Health District.
Some health officials fear the worst is yet to come, saying the uncertainty surrounding the COVID-19 vaccine has called into question other vaccines, such as the MMR dose.
Patterson says the myths surrounding the MMR vaccine began in 1998, when a now-discredited researcher claimed to have observed a link between the MMR vaccine and children’s predisposition to pervasive developmental disorders. His claims have since been debunked and the study declared unethical.
“This article has since been retracted, the professor who did the research admitted it was flawed research and just plain wrong,” Patterson said. “There have been at least nine studies since then that have shown that there is no causal relationship between MMR and autism.”
Even so, Patterson said measles among unvaccinated populations has been a concern for decades.
“In the year 2000, measles was declared extinct from the United States,” Patterson said. “Unfortunately we’re starting to see it coming back now and it’s a huge problem due to the reduction in vaccines that are out there.”