This story appeared in the Iron Mountain Daily News. Read more here.

Vaccines are proven to protect people from serious diseases at every age. During Immunization Awareness Month, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services are urging Michigan families to talk to their health care provider to ensure family members are up to date on all recommended vaccines.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, some individuals missed routine checkups and vaccinations. With children going back to school and adults going back to the workplace, it is now more important than ever for everyone to get back on track with routine vaccinations.

National Immunization Awareness Month highlights the importance of getting all recommended vaccines throughout the lifetime. To help promote the safety of vaccines and ensure Michiganders get these potentially life-saving immunizations, Whitmer has issued a proclamation declaring August 2021 as Immunization Awareness Month.

“Keeping Michiganders healthy and safe is my number one priority,” Whitmer said. “I encourage everyone take this time to educate themselves on the importance of immunizations to protect our overall public health and keep our families safe. I particularly urge all Michiganders get the safe and effective COVID-19 vaccine as soon as possible.”

Added Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, MDHHS chief medical executive, “Vaccinating on time and following CDC’s recommended schedule is the best protection against serious diseases including COVID-19, influenza, hepatitis A, cancers caused by HPV and measles. We have the power to protect not only ourselves, but our entire community when we vaccinate on time.”

Like many states nationwide, Michigan saw a decline in vaccination coverage due to the COVID-19 pandemic. According to data from the Michigan Care Improvement Registry, as of June only 54.7% of Michigan children 19 to 35 months of age were fully immunized with recommended vaccines.

MDHHS encourages Michiganders to go to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Interactive Vaccine Guide, which provides information on the vaccines recommended during pregnancy and throughout a child’s life. Adults 19 and older can take the CDC’s Adult Vaccine Assessment Tool to find out which vaccines they may need. It is important all Michiganders are up to date on recommended vaccines.

August is also a critical time for those who are eligible to get vaccinated against COVID-19. COVID-19 vaccines are safe and effective at preventing COVID-19 disease, especially severe illness and death. For more information on COVID-19 vaccines and to find a vaccine near you, go online to Michigan.gov/COVIDvaccine.

During National Immunization Awareness Month, MDHHS joins the Franny Strong Foundation, which it partners with on the IVaccinate campaign, and other organizations across the nation to spread the message that vaccines are among the safest ways to protect health and lower risks for certain diseases and cancers.