Vaccine hesitancy fueling resurgence of diseases, experts say

A measles outbreak in Columbus, Ohio, is sparking concern among health officials who believe that increased vaccine hesitancy will intensify a resurgence of vaccine-preventable diseases, according to The Washington Post.

Officials said most of the 82 children infected were old enough to get shots but their parents chose not to vaccinate them, resulting in the country's largest outbreak of measles this year. 

According to state data, only three of the children had received a single dose of the vaccine, but none were fully vaccinated. 

"That is what is causing this outbreak to spread like wildfire," Mysheika Roberts, MD, director of the Columbus health department, told The Washington Post.

The outbreak, which began in November, saw the three partially vaccinated children contracting the disease in early December, marking the first cases in the region's outbreak that have not been among unvaccinated children. 

The CDC typically recommends children get their first dose of the measles, mumps and rubella vaccine between 12 and 15 months, and the second shot between ages 4 and 6. 

According to polling by the Kaiser Family Foundation, more than a third of parents with children under 18, and 28 percent of adults, say parents should be able to decide not to vaccinate their kids for MMR to attend public schools even if it may create health risks for others. 

The poll also found that the growing opposition stems largely from shifts among people who identify as or lean Republican, with 44 percent saying parents should be able to opt out of those childhood vaccines in comparison with 20 percent who said so in 2019. 

On the other hand, support for immunization mandates has remained steady among Democrats, with 88 percent saying that children should be vaccinated to attend public schools. Overall, 71 percent of all adults still support school immunization requirements, compared with 82 percent in 2019. 

According to infectious disease experts, an overall community vaccination rate of 90 to 94 percent is needed to prevent large measles outbreaks. In the United States, nearly 91 percent of children have received at least one dose of the MMR by age 2. In the Columbus area, according to The Washington Post, the measles vaccination rate is estimated at 80 to 90 percent, but healthcare providers are not required to report data to Ohio's vaccine registry. 

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