Public Health urges parents to vaccinate children against measles amid outbreak

Public Health - Dayton & Montgomery County is urging families to protect their children from measles amid an outbreak in central Ohio that continues to grow.

There have been 64 cases of measles — double the number reported at the end of November — in the Columbus area. Of those cases, 61, or 95%, have been in unvaccinated people, according to Columbus Public Health. Three cases involved people who had partial vaccinations.

“The safest way to protect children from measles is to make sure they are vaccinated,” said Dr. Becky Thomas, medical director at Public Health – Dayton & Montgomery County. “Unfortunately, 61 of the children infected in the current outbreak had not been vaccinated.”

Measles is very contagious and children can spread it to others before they start showing symptoms, according to Public Health. The virus can live in the air for up to two hours after an infected person has left the room.

About one in five children who get measles will be hospitalized for complications such as pneumonia, dehydration or brain swelling, according to Public Health. The complications have the potential to be deadly.

Twenty-five children have been hospitalized since the beginning of November, according to Columbus Public Health.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends children get two doses of the measles-mumps-rubella vaccine, also known as MMR, starting with the first dose at 12 to 15 months old and the second dose at 4 to 6 years old.

Last year, a record of nearly 40 million children worldwide missed a measles vaccine dose, according to the CDC and World Health Organization. Twenty-five million children missed their first dose and 14.7 million missed their second.

“We want to remind people and reiterate the importance of those vaccinations they can get,” said Dan Suffoletto, public information manager at Public Health - Dayton & Montgomery County. “(During COVID), there was a lot of disruption in routine medical care and procedures.”

Public Health encouraged parents to talk to their children’s doctor to make sure they are up-to-date with the measles vaccine. The vaccine is available at area pharmacies and through healthcare providers. Public Health also offers measles vaccinations at its clinic in the Reibold Building at 117 S. Main St. in Dayton. To schedule an appointment call 937-225-4550.

Staff writer Samantha Wildow contributed to this report.

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