A young adult from Stark County who traveled to a state with confirmed measles cases has become Ohio’s first confirmed measles case of 2019.
The Ohio Department of Health didn’t disclose any additional information about the infected individual when it made the announcement the morning of July 12.
Dr. Shelly Senders, founder of Senders Pediatrics in South Euclid and a member of Green Road Synagogue in Beachwood, said he has worked to vaccinate children and adults in his practice.
“We vaccinated in about eight weeks more measles vaccine than we did in the entire 2018,” Senders told the Cleveland Jewish News July 17, adding that he’s vaccinated between 150 and 200 adults. ”So people are responding to this, and that to me is the most important thing. We have actually personally moved up the measles chicken pox vaccine that typically is given right before kindergarten, we’ve actually moved that up to 2 to 3 years.”
Senders said he vaccinated younger children partly to ensure that they are protected and also because there have been studies that link multiple vaccinations of 4- to 6-year-olds with increased incidence of needle phobia.
“There are 1,123 case in the country,” Senders said. “The rate of rise last week was the lowest rate of rise in the year. Only 1.3 percent. This was inevitable that there would be a case in Ohio. But the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) is recommending, and I wholly support the recommendation, that the best way to avoid measles is vaccination.”
Rabbi Ahron Kushner of Agudas Achim Congregation in Canton told the Cleveland Jewish News that though he’d heard the measles report by the afternoon of July 12, he hadn’t learned whether the infected individual was someone in Stark County’s Jewish community.
“I know it’s not in my synagogue. We have older people, and the young people got their shots,” he said, adding the only young people who are regularly at the synagogue are his own children, all of whom attend Hebrew Academy of Cleveland in Cleveland Heights.
Agudas Achim is composed of 75 families. Kushner said he’s spoken to his congregation about measles and vaccinations, noting such conversations were more prevalent in April during Passover. He supports vaccinations.
“It’s the right thing to do,” Kushner said. “I’d say 99 percent (of the Orthodox community) are not against (vaccinations). In fact, we encourage it.”
This is the first confirmed measles case in Ohio since 2017, ODH reported in a news release. Twenty-eight states, including many neighboring states, already have measles cases, with several having confirmed measles outbreaks. Ohio’s last confirmed measles outbreak was in 2014, with 382 confirmed cases.
“One thing is really important – vaccination is critical. We are lucky to have a high vaccination rate in Stark County and Ohio, so the vast majority of the public is protected,” Kirkland Norris, health commissioner at the Stark County Health Department, said in a news release.
ODH Director Dr. Amy Acton also stressed the importance of vaccinations.
“Vaccinations save lives, period,” she said. “I urge everyone who can to get vaccinated. Vaccination is the safest, most effective way to prevent serious vaccine-preventable diseases in children and adults, including measles.”
Staff Reporter Jane Kaufman contributed to this report.