(12-18-22) The measles outbreak continues to grow in central Ohio, as of December 15, 2022, there have been 77 cases in Ohio, with 29 hospitalizations. The Darke County General Health District urges parents to vaccinate their children to protect them from being infected.Unvaccinated individuals are at risk of infection and severe disease.

Measles is very contagious. Children infected with measles can spread it to others, even before they have symptoms. The measles virus can live for up to two hours in the air after an infected person leaves the room. Nine out of 10 unvaccinated children who are exposed to measles will become infected.

Measles can be serious, and about 1 in 5 children who get measles will be hospitalized with complications such as pneumonia, dehydration, or brain swelling. Twenty-five Ohio children have been hospitalized in the current outbreak to date.

“Vaccination is the most effective and safe way to protect children in our community from measles.  I encourage parents to contact their child’s physician to ensure they are up-to-date with the MMR vaccine,” said Darke County Deputy Health Commissioner Jordan Francis, MPH.

Vaccination is the best way to prevent measles from infecting children. The Centers for Disease Control and Protection recommends all children get two doses of MMR (measles-mumps-rubella) vaccine, starting with the first dose at 12 through 15 months of age, and the second dose at 4 through 6 years of age.

The second dose of the MMR vaccine is typically given during routine kindergarten vaccinations. Children over the age of 4 who have yet to receive their kindergarten immunizations may get the MMR vaccine now to boost their immunity.  During the pandemic, many children may have missed receiving routine vaccinations. Parents should talk to their child’s doctor now to make sure they are up-to-date will all measles vaccinations.

The measles vaccine is safe and effective with hundreds of millions of doses given safely over the last 50 years. The Darke County General Health District offers the MMR vaccine during walk-in hours on Tuesdays from 8-10:30 a.m. and 2-5 p.m. You could also contact your local pharmacy or healthcare provider. For additional information or for any questions call 937-548-4196 ext. 224.