A Measles Outbreak Mostly Among the Unvaccinated

Central Ohio has seen 82 pediatric cases since November, and more than a third of children infected have been hospitalized.

measles

The state of Ohio is experiencing an outbreak of measles in the central part of the state. As of this morning, there have been 82 reported cases, and of them, 74 were unvaccinated, 4 were partially vaccinated (single dose), and 4 with unknown vaccine status. None of the patient cases were fully vaccinated.

In addition, 33 people have been hospitalized according to a information published by the City of Columbus (Ohio) Public Health. There have been no deaths reported. They also published potential exposure sites, which can be found here.

The age breakdown for cases is the following:

  • less than a year old: 23 cases
  • 1-2 years old: 36 cases
  • 3-5 years old: 18 cases
  • 6-17 years old: 5 cases
  • 18+ years old: 0 cases

The breakdown in cases was almost even among the sexes with 40 females and 42 males infected. Right now, the outbreak is in Franklin County where the city of Columbus is situated.


How Did We Get Here?
A recent JAMA article discussed some of the issues with eradication including the COVID-19 pandemic and its effect on children getting fully vaccinated. There are reports of children who have either not started or not completed their vaccine schedule for the measles mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine.

"During the COVID-19 pandemic, routine childhood vaccinations backslid. Data published this fall suggest that between 2019 and 2021, global vaccination coverage decreased not just for measles but also for diphtheria, tetanus, and pertussis; tuberculosis; Haemophilus influenzae type b; hepatitis B; polio; rubella; and human papillomavirus,” the JAMA author wrote.

Compounding the issue is hesitancy of getting the MMR vaccine. “Growing vaccine hesitancy fuels measles, chickenpox resurgence in U.S,” Peter Hotez, MD, PhD, tweeted back on December 27.

The lingering misinformation circulating around the COVID-19 vaccines has made families reluctant to get vaccines for their young children, despite the MMR efficacy and overall safety record. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 2 doses of the MMR vaccine is 97% efficacious against measles.

“The MMR vaccine is very safe, and it is effective at preventing measles, mumps, and rubella,” The CDC wrote on its site. “Vaccines, like any medicine, can have side effects. Most people who get MMR vaccine do not have any serious problems with it. Getting MMR vaccine is much safer than getting measles, mumps or rubella.”

The CDC says the common side effects of the vaccine include:

  • Sore arm from the shot
  • Fever
  • Mild rash
  • Temporary pain and stiffness in the joints, mostly in teenage or adult women who did not already have immunity to the rubella component of the vaccine

The MMR vaccine was approved in 1971 and the vaccine is recommended as a 2-dose schedule with the first dose being delivered when children are 12 to 15 months old and the second one being administered when they are 4 to 6 years old.

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