Fakhoury: Ensure kids are vaccinated according to CDC schedule

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This opinion piece by Dr. Fakhoury appeared on The Detroit News. Read more here.

If there is one thing parents learn soon after having a baby, it is that routines and schedules are key for developing a healthy foundation later in life. Thankfully, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has an ideal schedule for parents to follow to keep infants as healthy and protected as possible.

Across the nation this week, public health professionals are encouraging parents to get their kids caught up on important childhood vaccinations for National Infant Immunization Week. This is an annual opportunity to highlight the important vaccines designed to protect children two years and younger from vaccine-preventable diseases.

Of the many vaccines recommended on the schedule during the first two years of a child’s life, one stands out in 2024. Michigan is currently dealing with a highly contagious and potentially deadly disease: measles. The recent resurgence of cases in our state serves as a stark reminder of the importance of vaccination in protecting our infants and communities against preventable illnesses.

As a pediatrician in Kalamazoo and president-elect of the Michigan Chapter American Academy of Pediatrics, I have seen firsthand the devastating impact vaccine preventable diseases can have on our youngest and most vulnerable residents. About one in four people in the U.S. who get measles will be hospitalized and the disease is so contagious that if one person has it, nine out of 10 unprotected people around them could also become infected.

Fortunately, the measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine is very effective. Two doses of measles vaccine are about 97% effective at preventing measles if exposed to the virus. One dose, recommended at 12-15 months, is about 93% effective. Vaccines are one of the most successful tools we have in modern medicine for preventing diseases and saving lives. They help train our bodies to partner with our immune system and respond to specific viruses as often as possible and have played a pivotal role in eradicating diseases like smallpox and drastically reducing the incidence of others.

With the recent measles cases in Michigan, it is vital that we redouble our efforts to ensure that all children are up to date on their vaccines. Vaccination not only protects the person receiving the vaccine but also helps to create an umbrella of protection around vulnerable community members.

While most do vaccinate, it is natural for parents to have questions about vaccines, especially given the amount of misinformation available. Vaccines are rigorously tested before they are approved for use, and studies continue to confirm their safety and efficacy. To trust this, it is essential to rely on credible, evidence-based information when making decisions about your child’s health.

Parents across Michigan should take proactive steps to ensure that their children are fully vaccinated according to the CDC-recommended schedule. If you have questions, I encourage you to seek reliable information from reputable sources. One such resource is ivaccinate.org, a tool for parents with answers to more than 100 common questions and real stories of Michigan families’ experiences with vaccine-preventable illnesses. As always, your child’s pediatrician or family physician is also available as a resource.

Vaccination is a shared responsibility that requires the active participation of parents, healthcare providers and public health officials.

By ensuring that our children are fully vaccinated, we not only protect their health but also contribute to the collective well-being of our communities.

Dr. Joseph Fakhoury is a pediatrician and president-elect of the Michigan chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics.

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I Vaccinate provides information and tools based on real medical science and research to help Michigan parents protect their kids. Support is provided by the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services and the Franny Strong Foundation.

You’ve got questions. That’s a good thing.

As parents, determining how best to protect our children can be overwhelming and confusing. We’re here to help.

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