COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) – Local physicians fear vaccine misinformation could be partially to blame for the current flu and measles outbreaks.
Data show most measles cases in central Ohio are in unvaccinated children, and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) said flu vaccine rates are the lowest they’ve been in years.
As of Dec. 8, the CDC reported 88 measles cases in the country, with 74 of those in central Ohio.
Dr. Joseph Gastaldo, an infectious disease expert with OhioHealth, said it’s unfortunate to see people suffering from diseases that can be prevented with a vaccine – measles, polio, and HPV among them.
But out of fear, there are parents choosing not to vaccinate their children, and now those diseases are spreading.
Gastaldo said a lot of this has to do with being “out of sight, out of mind.” For generations, measles or polio outbreaks have been incredibly rare and not severe, leading some people to skip vaccination.
This mixed with misinformation on the internet could be a big reason for the current outbreaks.
“The way we consume information today is very different than what it was years ago,” Gastaldo said. “We are all connected through the internet and social media, and it is very easy to go on the internet or social media and come across information that looks pretty legitimate. If you are a concerned parent, obviously you want to advocate for the well-being of your child and It’s very easy to go down a rabbit hole of misinformation.”
Gastaldo said the low vaccine rates for the influenza virus is a huge reason why Ohio is in the “very high” transmission rate. The outbreaks, he said, are taking a toll on healthcare workers.