DAYTON, Ohio (WDTN) — The CDC reports recent studies showing a serious decline in measles vaccination rates among eligible children.

Local health leaders believe the decline is due to myths surrounding the measles vaccine that could still be prevalent.

“The vaccine hesitancy that is something we’re all going to pay dearly for the next several years from the COVID fiasco,” said Health Commissioner Clark County Combined Health District Charles Patterson.

Some local health leaders are fearing the worst is yet to come. Some believe the uncertainty around the COVID-19 vaccine has caused other vaccines like the MMR dose to come into question.

Health Commissioner Charles Patterson says myths around the MMR vaccine started in 1998. Scientist Andrew Wakefield claimed his research showed the MMR vaccine may predispose children to pervasive developmental disorders. Since then, the study was declared unethical.

“That article has since been retracted, the professor who did the research has admitted it was flawed research and just flat out not true,” said Patterson. “There have been at least nine studies since then that have shown there is no causal relationship between MMR and autism.”

Currently, Ohio has 81 confirmed cases of measles of which 76 are unvaccinated children. 22 of the children are not eligible to be vaccinated due to age, plus 29 children have been hospitalized. One of the cases is an infant in Clark County which Patterson says was completely preventable with vaccination.

“In the year 2000, measles was declared gone from the United States,” said Patterson. “Unfortunately, we are starting to see it back now and that’s a huge problem because of the reduction in vaccines that are out there.”

Patterson says out of the 81 cases across the state, none of the children are fully vaccinated.