You are looking at a photo of a 2 year old with measles. It looks miserable. It is miserable. Prior to vaccination, roughly 500 children used to die annually from the disease.
Earlier this year, a group of unvaccinated travelers went from Ohio to the Philippines, which is in the midst of a massive measles outbreak. And some of these travelers brought the disease back with them. It spread among the unvaccinated Amish in the community. As of this month, there are now 68 reported cases of measles in at least two Ohio counties. Measles spreads rapidly and an unvaccinated person who comes into contact with an infected person has a 90% chance of contracting the disease. And contrary to the statements of some outspoken individuals, measles is serious and can be fatal.
But its not just measles in the heartland. Its mumps too. What started as small outbreak on The Ohio State University campus as spread to the community at large. There are now 339 reported cases of mumps in Ohio. While Ohio State has not previously required students to be vaccinated, it is unsurprising that the university is now recommending that students, faculty, and staff get fully immunized.
BUT. I can already hear the anti-vaccine movement yelling it. Weren’t many of these mumps cases among vaccinated individuals? Yes. Some were. But that does not provide any evidence against vaccination. According to the CDC, people who have received two doses of the MMR vaccine are nine times less likely to develop the mumps virus. And individuals who are vaccinated and develop mumps are also likely to have a less severe illness than those who are unvaccinated. And people who are not vaccinated have a higher chance of spreading the disease. That’s common sense.
Despite the current outbreaks, there are no plans in Ohio to change our immunization laws. There is some talk among policymakers about making college immunizations mandatory, but for now Ohio remains one of about half the states that do not require immunization before college. Its unfortunate that parents have to add “might get a vaccine-preventable disease” to the list of worries that attend sending their kids off to college — at least in the state of Ohio.