COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — Measles is a growing concern for central Ohio health officials as the number of cases continues to increase.
Of the 50 confirmed cases in unvaccinated individuals, most have been discovered in daycare centers. However, Westerville City Schools shared with families there was one case discovered in the district. Community member said the outbreak does not surprise them.
“Those things happen — it’s around,” said Galena resident, Jack Gilkerson. “Parents have to make a decision whether to vaccinate their kids or not.”
The case in Westerville is the first made public in a school district. The name of the school the child attends was not shared.
“I don’t want to be the bearer of bad news, but this outbreak is going to grow — I mean we are going to get more cases, the question is how big will it get,” said Dr. Mysheika Roberts with Columbus Public Health.
Roberts said case popping up in a school district is worrisome, as it could impact a bigger population than those found in daycares. She’s hopeful that most school-aged kids are be vaccinated.
“That’s why I am strongly, begging really, individuals to get the MMR vaccine now if they have not been vaccinated,” said Roberts.
Roberts is urging unvaccinated adults to also consider the vaccine. She said there are vaccine requirements here in Ohio for public schools, but individuals can opt out.
“They can say for religious reasons or personal reasons they choose not to follow that guidance and that’s what we’re seeing is families that have chosen to not follow the recommend guidance for vaccines and many of our cases are eligible most of our cases are eligible for this vaccine,” said Roberts.
Columbus Public Health is contact tracing as best they can. Roberts is urging the public to stay home if you or your loved ones feel sick. Measles has symptoms like a cold and often goes undetected for days before the measles rash appears.
“It’s a difficult decision I know that parents have to make, one they wrestle with I’m sure, and those who choose not to do. So I respect that decision,” said Gilkerson.