Myths surrounding MMR vaccine may be contributing to Ohio measles outbreak

Myths surrounding MMR vaccine may be contributing to Ohio measles outbreak

DAYTON, Ohio (WDTN) – An Ohio health official says declining vaccination rates likely contributed to a measles outbreak in the state.

As of Thursday, Ohio has 82 confirmed cases of measles, 32 of which required hospitalization. All but five cases were in children aged 1–5 years, and none of the patients had been fully vaccinated; four had unknown vaccination statuses and at least 23 of the patients were ineligible for vaccination because of their age, according to the Columbus public health department.

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The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently reported on studies showing a significant decline in measles vaccination rates among eligible children, noting that approximately 40 million eligible children across the country missed out on a dose in 2021.

“This decline is a significant setback in global progress toward achieving and maintaining measles elimination and leaves millions of children susceptible to infection,” the CDC wrote in November.

Health leaders in Ohio believe the decline is due to myths surrounding the measles vaccine that may still be prevalent.

“Vaccine hesitancy is something we’re all going to pay dearly for the next several years from 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, believing that the uncertainty surrounding the COVID-19 vaccine has caused other vaccines, such as the MMR dose, to be called into question.

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 predisposing children to pervasive developmental disorders. Since then, his claims have been dismissed and the study declared unethical.

“That article has since been retracted, the professor who did the research has admitted that it was flawed research and just not true,” Patterson said. “There have been at least nine studies since then that have shown no causal link between MMR and autism.”

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Despite this, Patterson said measles among unvaccinated populations has been a concern for decades.

“In 2000, measles was declared eradicated from the United States,” Patterson said. “Unfortunately, we’re starting to see that now, and that’s a big problem because of the reduction in vaccines that are out there.”

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