“Clearly we’re seeing a very large number of cases of mumps associated with what was first an outbreak at Ohio State and now is now a community outbreak,” said Jose Rodriguez, a spokesman for Columbus Public Health. “We continue to be concerned about those who are unprotected; those who do not have their two doses of MMR.”
Central Ohio officials are warning that children without mumps vaccinations might have to miss weeks of school if an outbreak of the illness hits classrooms.
Officials have confirmed 230 cases of the contagious viral illness in the Columbus area this year. They say 145 of those are linked to Ohio State University.
The Columbus Dispatch reports that the health commissioners for Columbus and surrounding Franklin County wrote letters to schools encouraging vaccinations.
The letters also advise parents that unvaccinated students might have to stay home 25 days or longer if clusters of mumps cases begin showing up in schools.
Dr. Max Witnitzer, of Rainbow Babies Children's Hospital agrees with the schools.
"Why should we expose those children to needless risk because someone says I don't want to vaccinate my child," he said.
Officials have urged residents of the region to make sure they've been inoculated with two doses of the measles, mumps and rubella vaccine.
Witnitzer said it's not to late for those who haven't done it. He said mumps is, "preventable. You get your vaccinations and your odds are better than that at the casino that you'll be protected."
Although 90% of children get vaccinated before they start school, there are still a number of parents that refuse to go through the process for fear that the number of vaccinations could cause autism.
Witnitzer said for those parents there is no proof to back up that claim. "There is no link between vaccines and autism. Whether you say its to many vaccines or whether you say its the components of the vaccines. There is no science that supports that conclusion."