Vaccines protect children from 14 vaccine-preventable diseases by age 2

LANSING, Mich. – Michigan health officials and parents from the I Vaccinate campaign are celebrating National Infant Immunization Week April 24 through May 1. This week highlights the importance of protecting infants from vaccine-preventable diseases through immunization – of special importance this year with more than 42 Michigan counties dropping below 70% coverage for childhood immunization rates.

“Infant Immunization Week comes at a critical time in Michigan, as we have seen a significant drop in vaccination rates of younger children during the pandemic,” said Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, chief deputy director for health and chief medical executive for the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS). “Vaccination is the safest, most effective way to protect not only your child, but also your entire community, from vaccine-preventable diseases—including those who are too young or too sick to be immunized.”

In many states including Michigan, vaccination rates of younger children dropped during the pandemic as parents postponed well-child visits to protect their kids from COVID-19. As a result, vaccination rates for Michigan children ages 19 to 36 months have fallen below 70% in 42 of 83 Michigan counties according to February data from the Michigan Care Improvement Registry. In six Michigan counties and the City of Detroit, the rate has dropped below 60%. While community immunity is different for each disease and vaccine, doctors and public health experts generally agree that a 70% vaccination rate is the minimum protection level desired.

The 10 areas with the lowest vaccination rates for children ages 19 to 36 months are: Oscoda County (45.2%), City of Detroit (49%), Gladwin County (55.9%), Iron County (58.3%), Lake County (59.2%), Clare County (59.3%), Otsego County (59.9%), Mackinac County (60.7%), Cass County (61%) and Houghton County (61.3%). These decreases come at a pivotal time as Michigan faces a 390% increase in COVID-19 positivity rates, a 470% increase in cases statewide, and a 373% increase in inpatient COVID beds putting additional strain on hospitals, since mid-February.

“At a time when our health care system is becoming once again overwhelmed with COVID-19 pandemic, it’s important that we avoid outbreaks of preventable serious diseases,” said Bob Swanson, MDHHS immunization division director. “It’s time to catch up Michigan children who did not get their routine vaccinations over the past year so we can protect them and our friends, families, and loved ones who are medically unable to be vaccinated.”

Franny Strong Foundation president and I Vaccinate campaign founder Veronica McNally knows better than most parents about the dangers of vaccine-preventable diseases. In 2012, Veronica and her husband Sean lost their 3-month-old daughter Francesca to whooping cough.

“As parents, we want to do everything in our power to keep our children safe,” said McNally, who is the consumer representative on the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices. “It’s normal to have questions, but it’s imperative that you’re getting answers from credible sources. Talk to your pediatrician, visit your local health department and explore resources like IVaccinate.org, which provides parents with information and tools based on medical science and research to help them make informed decisions about vaccines and protect their kids.”

When 90% to 95% of a community is protected, it is nearly impossible for a vaccine-preventable disease to spread. When people and entire communities let vaccine rates slip, pockets of low vaccination create an environment where diseases can take hold and spread and serious health problems can surface in people who were not vaccinated—and in the small number of people who, for medical and other health reasons, can’t be vaccinated.

Following the CDC-recommended schedule protects children and teens from 16 vaccine-preventable diseases by age 18. The schedule is recommended by the CDC and is approved by every major medical organization in the country, including the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Academy of Family Physicians. It is also the only schedule that has been carefully tested, studied and reviewed by medical experts prior to being recommended for children.

Michigan parents with vaccination questions can find answers based entirely on medical science at IVaccinate.org.