Myths surrounding the MMR vaccine may be contributing to the measles outbreak in Ohio

Myths surrounding the MMR vaccine may be contributing to the measles outbreak in Ohio

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DAYTON, OH (WDTN) – An Ohio health official says declining vaccination rates may have 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 of the cases were among children aged 1–5 years, and none of the patients had been fully vaccinated; four had unknown vaccination status and at least 23 of the patients were ineligible for vaccination because of their age, according to the Columbus Department of Public Health.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently reported studies showing a significant drop in measles vaccination rates among eligible children, noting that about 40 million eligible children nationwide missed a dose in 2021.

“This decline is a significant setback in global progress toward achieving and sustaining 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 can still be spread.

“Vaccine hesitancy is something we will all pay dearly for in the next few years of the COVID fiasco,” said Charles Patterson, Clark County Health Commissioner.

Some health officials fear the worst is yet to come, believing that 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 seen a link between the MMR vaccine and predisposing children to widespread developmental disorders. His claims have since been debunked and the research has been 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“That article has since been retracted, the professor who did the research has admitted that it was flawed research and just not true,” Patterson said. “Since then, there have been at least nine studies showing no causal link between MMR and autism.”

However, Patterson said measles among the unvaccinated population has been a problem for decades.

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

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