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MMR vaccines and exemptions in central Ohio schools

The CDC is seeing vaccine rates decrease across the county, we’re taking a look at the picture in central Ohio.

COLUMBUS, Ohio — Next week, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention will send two of its epidemiologists to central Ohio to help Columbus Public Health investigate a measles outbreak.

"They'll really do an investigation to try and understand where this outbreak started and who else might have been in those settings and at risk,” said CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky.

According to the health department, the oldest infected is a 6-year-old who was exempt from getting the MMR vaccine required to enroll in school.

"We've had the benefit of great coverage from these vaccines and haven't had to see these diseases. And right now we are starting to see less vaccination in some of these communities and these diseases resurge,” Walensky said.

Of the 19 Columbus area measles cases, Columbus Public Health says all the children are unvaccinated.

According to the latest data from the CDC, 89.6% of Ohio kindergartners had the MMR vaccine in the 2020-2021 school year. The U.S. median for the same year is 93.7%.

In Westerville, this school year marks the highest number in the last five years of total students who opted out of required immunizations for philosophical or religious reasons. That number 413, accounts for less than 3% of students.

In Delaware, the MMR vaccine opt-out for this school year is just under 2% district-wide, according to the Delaware City Schools Director of Communication.

In Reynoldsburg, according to a district communications director, the number of immunization objections for all required vaccines remains low with less than 1% of students opting out the last two school years.

According to Olentangy Schools, as of Tuesday, 1,003 students - preschool through 12th grade - are exempt from medical vaccinations.

“This number includes exemptions for reasons of conscience, including religious conviction, and/or medically contraindicated, as our system does not disaggregate the data according to the type of exemption on file,” said Amanda Beeman, assistant director of communications.

In the South-Western City Schools District, the following data was provided to 10TV to show the opt-out percentage for the MMR vaccine specifically, for students due to religious, philosophical, or medical reasons:

  • Nov. 21, 2022: 259 / 21863 = 1.18% 
  • Nov. 20, 2021: 235 / 21571 = 1.09%
  • Nov. 21, 2020: 243 / 21366 = 1.14% 
  • Nov. 21, 2019: 279 / 22626 = 1.23% 
  • Nov. 21, 2018: 248 / 22653 = 1.09% 
  • Nov. 21, 2017: 225 / 22733 = 0.99%

Health officials in central Ohio and across the country are urging parents to stay up to date on their child's vaccinations. Walensky said the call to action is “critically important.”

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