Amid declining vaccination rates nationwide, an outbreak of measles has erupted this week among unvaccinated children at a childcare facility in Columbus, Ohio.
The outbreak has sickened at least four children so far, all of whom are unvaccinated with no history of travel, meaning they contracted the highly contagious virus locally, according to Columbus-area health officials.
Officials expect more cases
Columbus CBS affiliate WBNS-TV reported that one of the four cases had been hospitalized in intensive care. Officials also told the outlet that they expect additional cases will be identified in the coming days.
Reached by email on Thursday, a representative for Columbus Public Health told Ars that all four cases are now recovering at home.
“The outbreak, though still small and localized, fuels anxiety among public health officials over the hold antivaccine sentiments have in the country.”
The representative did not have current or past information on vaccination rates in the area because it is not reported to the city health department. Ars also reached out to the state health department for that information, but a spokesperson said the information was not readily available. We’ll update this post when they come through.
But previously published data on vaccination rates statewide and nationwide show clear declines amid the pandemic.
Earlier this year, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention published an analysis finding that vaccination coverage among kindergarteners declined by one percentage point between the 2019-2020 school year and 2020-2021, falling from approximately 95 percent to 94 percent.
In Ohio, the decline was sharper statewide. In the 2019-2020 school year, 92.4 percent of kindergarteners had been vaccinated for measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR). But in the 2020-2021 school year, coverage fell to 89.6 percent.
The outbreak, though still small and localized, fuels anxiety among public health officials over the hold antivaccine sentiments have in the country. While antivaccine views had insidiously spread for years before the pandemic, they mushroomed into the mainstream amid a flood of misinformation and politicization of public health that followed COVID-19.