The number of children who have fallen ill with measles in and around Columbus has grown slowly but steadily since the first four cases were reported by the Columbus health department at the beginning of November.
While there are still no reported cases in the Cleveland area, the recent Ohio measles outbreak - which so far has been limited entirely to unvaccinated or partially vaccinated children - has some doctors raising concerns that go beyond measles.
They say a combination of a complacency about diseases most people in the U.S. have rarely seen up close, and the heated debate around COVID-19 vaccinations, has sown seeds of confusion and misinformation about the safety, effectiveness and necessity of vaccines for other childhood diseases.
These small outbreaks, say doctors, should serve as a reminder of the importance of timely vaccinations in young children, because even a single exposure could be devastating in settings like daycares with rooms full of babies too young to be vaccinated. Measles is a highly contagious virus, with 90% of unvaccinated people exposed getting sick.
“Measles and polio and meningitis ... these are very serious diseases that we do not want to see come back,” said Dr. Camille Sabella, a specialist in pediatric infectious diseases at the Cleveland Clinic. “Vaccines have basically eliminated those childhood diseases.”
Seventy-seven cases of measles were reported Central Ohio from Nov. 9 through Friday.