DAYTON, Ohio (WDTN) – With the U.S. on the verge of the largest measles outbreak in a quarter century, officials with Public Health Dayton and Montgomery County as well as the Ohio Department of Health urged the public to get vaccinated immediately if they haven’t already.
Measles outbreaks are immediate concerns to state and local public health officials because of how contagious the disease is. Dan Suffoletto, Public Information Supervisor at Public Health Dayton and Montgomery County, said he and his agency have been urging the public to get vaccines if they haven’t done so.
“Measles is very contagious, it’s much more contagious than the flu,” Suffoletto said. It can remain in a room up to two hours after everyone has left.”
Ohio has exemptions for vaccines – one for religious reasons and the other for health. In recent years, as anti-vaccination movements have grown, the number of children given the measles vaccine has fallen dramatically – from 93.6 percent in 2010 to 88.6 percent in 2017.
“It is troubling that people aren’t getting vaccinated,” Suffoletto said. “We want to keep that (vaccination rate) up because it not only protects you, it protects others as well.”
People who catch the virus can be contagious four days before they show symptoms and up to four days after the rash disappears. One in four are hospitalized with the most dangerous side-effects being brain swelling and death. Approximately 1-2 people out of a thousand who get the virus die.
Suffoletto said people who can’t afford vaccinations can visit the public health clinic at the Reibold Building in Dayton. The clinic has a sliding scale of fees for those that need help paying.
New York Mayor Bil de Blasio called for mandatory vaccinations in Brooklyn after 285 cases hit the city, mostly in its Orthodox Jewish community. De Blasio issued a public health emergency, called for fines up to $1,000 for those in the Willliamsburg section of Brooklyn if they didn’t comply.
PERCENTAGE OF KINDERGARTNERS WITH VACCINATION RECORD ON FILE
RATES BY COUNTY