A simulation developed by researchers shows just how quickly measles can spread if a community doesn’t have a high vaccination rate.

FRED, A Framework for Reconstructing Epidemiological Dynamics, was developed by the Public Health Dynamics Laboratory in the Graduate School of Public Health, University of Pittsburgh to simulate epidemics, such as a measles outbreak.

Simulation of how a measles outbreak could spread in Franklin County if only 80 percent of children from 6-months-old to 15-years-old are vaccinated. It is compared to a 95-percent vaccination rate, which is needed for herd immunity. (Courtesy: Public Health Dynamics Laboratory in the Graduate School of Public Health, University of Pittsburgh)

The researchers showed how an outbreak can occur from just a single case of measles in several U.S. cities, including Columbus.

The simulation showed the stark difference between 80 percent of children, 6-months-old to 15-years-old, vaccinated against measles, and 95 percent of the same group vaccinated.

In Franklin County, if only 80 percent of children are vaccinated, the simulation showed just one measles case could lead to thousands infected in less than a year. The simulation that showed a 95-percent vaccination rate, which is needed for herd immunity, only a handful of residents were infected.

Researchers pointed out the model does not take into account the effects of public health responses to a growing epidemic; such as quarantine, increased vaccinations, or school closure. The other important assumption is that two doses of the vaccine are 97-percent effective and those over 15 years old have a 95-percent vaccination rate.

Ohio Department of Health director Dr. Amy Acton shared about the importance of vaccinating.

“Vaccination is the safest, most effective way to prevent serious vaccine-preventable diseases in children and adults, including measles,” said Acton. “I urge all Ohioans to talk with your healthcare provider to make sure that you and your children have received all recommended vaccines.”

The model’s creators said the results aren’t intended to predict future epidemics, but show the possible effects of losing herd immunity in a community.

Results from other cities across the country, including others in Ohio can be found online here.

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