COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — The current measles outbreak in Franklin County — one that subsequently closed at least one day care center this week — affects pediatricians across central Ohio.
Licking County pediatrician Sean Gallagher said Ohio had one of the highest vaccination rates in the country. However, the situation has worsened in recent decades with state legislatures rolling back requirements for vaccines and making it easier for people to get exemptions.
“It’s as easy as printing what amounts to an authorization form, signing it, and your child is able to attend both school and daycare without any vaccinations,” said Dr. Gallagher.
This timeline also matches what has been repeatedly shown to be flawed research that erroneously links the measles, mumps, and rubella vaccine with autism spectrum disorder.
“It turned out that many of his research methods were quite unethical and he had stockpiles in a competing vaccine, a vaccine that was trying to compete with measles, mumps and rubella,” said Dr. Gallagher. “He’s since been disbarred. He can no longer legally practice medicine, [but] which has made people worry who have worried parents about vaccination.
The two-dose MMR vaccine is 97 percent effective against the measles virus, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and is recommended for all children to receive.
Before the vaccine was developed, Dr Gallagher says measles was “one of the biggest killers of children worldwide”.
“This is not a benign disease. Whereas, historically, maybe it was a routine childhood disease because the vaccine didn’t exist and there was nothing that could be done. But we live in the year 2022. We have this very safe and effective vaccine that works well. It has been around for 51 years. I would encourage everyone who is eligible to receive this vaccine,” she said.
Dr. Gallagher added that he was particularly concerned about this outbreak because contact tracing does not show a connection between the daycare cases and other children who have tested positive for the virus in Franklin County, which suggests there is a dissemination in the community.
Also concerning is the way the virus initially presents itself: high fever, runny nose and watery eyes.
“The fact that the early days of measles pretty much mimic every other kind of routine cold that, you know, we see hundreds and thousands of every cold and flu season. And we can usually reassure parents that, ‘Guys, it’s okay. This is a virus. It will pass… there’s no need to radically change your daily life,’ [it] it is terrifying that four days later, [kids with measles] they’re evolving this classic rash and, and we don’t know until then. This worries me greatly.
According to the CDC, measles is highly contagious and is transmitted through coughs and sneezes. Infected individuals can shed the virus for up to four days before becoming symptomatic. And by the time the rash occurs, a person has already been contagious for several days.
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