This opinion piece by Kimberly Dobine appeared in The Detroit News. Read more here.
Having two young children myself, it can be overwhelming trying to juggle everyone’s needs, activities and schedules. But before the calendar gets too full, I’m making sure we have our well-child visits scheduled with our pediatrician to make sure my kindergartener is prepared for her first year of school.
Michigan parents should know that this fall season is different. The state’s childhood vaccination rates are at historic lows, which means kids are more at risk of getting sick with potentially dangerous diseases.
In more than half of the state, childhood vaccination rates have dropped below 70%. While each disease and vaccine is different, doctors and public health experts generally agree that our current rate of 67% vaccination is not high enough to prevent outbreaks.
Like myself, I imagine other parents want to know their child’s risk as the school year begins. You can look up your school’s vaccination completion rates on the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services website.
Another factor to consider is that families are traveling more, both out-of-state and internationally. All it takes is one case to spark an outbreak, like what happened in Ohio last year when a measles outbreak infected 85 children, most of whom were not vaccinated. While none of the children died, 36 were hospitalized. As a parent, seeing my child so sick that they end up in a hospital bed is one of the scariest things I can imagine.
Measles is just one of 17 diseases that can be prevented or made less severe through vaccination by following the schedule recommended by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Navigating all of this information can be overwhelming, and it’s OK to have questions, but make sure you are getting answers from credible sources. Talk to your child’s doctor and explore resources like IVaccinate.org to learn more about how to best protect your kids.
It’s hard to believe that summer is coming to an end, and September is already here. If you haven’t already, now’s the time to call your child’s health care provider and schedule an appointment to get caught up on routine vaccinations.
It’s important that we vaccinate to not only keep our children in good health, but also to ensure we’re keeping the kids around our children and educators protected as well.
Parents, let’s work together to make this school year the best one yet for all our kids.
Kimberly Dobine is an entrepreneur, influencer, experience curator and advocate.