Distressing data on Ohio’s rock- bottom ranking for measles-vaccination rates for toddlers should serve as a wake-up call for parents and public-health leaders to act to reverse the alarming trend.
Among Ohio children 19 to 36 months old, 14 percent in 2013 did not get the common immunization that protects against measles, mumps and rubella. That data puts Ohio tied in last place for childhood immunizations in the U.S.
Even more distressing is the downward direction vaccination rates are taking. The overall share of students in first through 12th grades immunized against major childhood diseases fell from almost 97 percent in 1998 to 89 percent in 2013. Some of that decline is attributed to gross misinformation linking the vaccine to autism.
The results of this trend are glaring: 644 measles cases nationwide in 2014, including 383 in Ohio, the most severe outbreak since 1994.
U.S. Surgeon General Vivek H. Murthy offered some credible advice in Columbus last week that all responsible Ohio parents should seriously follow: “My message to parents when it comes to the measles vaccine is please vaccinate your children. The vaccine is safe, it is effective, and it is the best way to protect your child and to protect the community.”