Protecting Society: Measles Outbreak Sparks Debate over Immunizations

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While then number of parents opting out of getting their children immunized continues to climb, more cases of measles are emerging.

The latest numbers from the Belmont County Health Department indicate there are 104 cases of measles in 14 states. Thankfully there are no outbreaks in Belmont County, but health officials continue to urge everyone to get their MMR Shot– Measles, Mumps and Rubella.

They say getting the shots not only helps you, but also the very young, sick or immune-compromised.

“Those people don’t have a strong immune system,” said Lynn Schrum, a registered nurse at the Belmont County Health Department. “If they get the measles, they’re more likely to have the complications from it.”

For most people, measles means a fever and an itchy rash that lasts three to seven days. But for a few, a complication can be brain infection.

“Brain infection could lead to memory loss, hearing loss, vision problems,” she said. “Pregnant women run the risk of passing it on to their baby and birth defects happening.”

By signing a waiver form, parents can opt out of getting their children immunized. In fact, mandatory vaccinations have become a political hot button issue.

Frank Lallone, a resident of St. Clairsville said he believes in a person’s right to choose for their kids, but also believes we have to protect society and work at immunization.

Ray Sheldon, a resident of Columbiana agreed.

“I feel sorry for the kids that have measles now and for the ones that are possibly going to be infected now because of the choices the other parents are making so,” he said.

Schrum says the publicity has prompted many local people to call and ask if they can get the shots, even if they’ve had them before. She says a second round won’t hurt them but she believes that not getting the shots could hurt not only your child, but others too.

“If someone’s not a strong immune person, they could get the measles,” she said. “And you could get an outbreak at a little school like St. Clairsville.”

A recent report showed Ohio has the lowest level of patient compliance in the United States for getting their children vaccinated. In fact, the report showed only 62 percent of kids under age two have their required shots.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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