With few people who opt out of preventive vaccinations for moral or religious beliefs, Lorain County has not seen any cases of measles this year and likely won’t, local health officials say.
But Ohio’s 341 cases, which have greatly contributed to the largest measles outbreak in this country since 1994, should serve as a wake-up call to everyone that keeping up with recommended vaccinations remains important, they said.
“We always push vaccinations and for good reasons,” said Kathy Boylan, health commissioner for both the Elyria Health District and Lorain City Health Department. “This is a reminder that there is a real health reason for vaccinations. No one who has contracted measles in this outbreak had been previously vaccinated. Clearly that is a sign that preventive vaccinations are the deciding factor.”
The recent spread of measles into Ashland, Coshocton, Crawford, Highland, Holmes, Knox, Richland, Stark and Wayne counties has prompted the Ohio Department of Health to encourage local public health agencies to push childhood vaccines.
In addition to measles, the state has seen an outbreak of mumps in central Ohio. There have been 432 reported cases of that particular disease.
In both outbreaks, doctors traced the source to unvaccinated persons coming in contact with carriers of the disease and subsequently spreading it to other unvaccinated persons. The age of those affected ranges from 6 months to 80, the Ohio Department of Health said.
Protection from measles and mumps as well as rubella is covered under the same vaccine known as the MMR vaccine. Given as a series of two shots, with the first given at age 1 and the next before a child goes to school, the MMR vaccine is almost 99 effective against the respective diseases.
“These diseases are very contagious, but a lot of people have the approach to something like measles like they think about chicken pox — it’s better to just get it and get it over with,” said Kathy E. Loughrie, Elyria’s director of nursing. “From a health standpoint, we believe when a vaccination is available, it’s best to take it so we can eradicate a disease.”
Loughrie said a small number of children across the city are not vaccinated.
Immunization clinics in Elyria take place twice a month. There is a walk-in clinic 8:30 to 11 a.m. the first Thursday of the month and a clinic by appointment only 1 to 4 p.m. the third Thursday of each month at the Elyria Health District, 202 Chestnut St.
The Lorain County Health Department has a schedule of clinics on Loraincountyhealth.com.