This editorial appeared in the Daily Press. Read more here.
Michigan health officials and parents from the I Vaccinate campaign are celebrating National Infant Immunization Week (NIIW) April 24 through April 30. This week highlights the importance of protecting young children from vaccine-preventable diseases through immunization, which is more important now than ever with 48 Michigan counties dropping below 70% coverage for childhood immunization rates.
“Infant Immunization Week is an important reminder for parents to get their children caught up on vaccinations to stay ahead of serious diseases,” said Dr. Natasha Bagdasarian, chief medical executive for the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS). “Immunization is the best way to protect your family and community against vaccine-preventable diseases, such as measles, mumps and rubella. Increased immunization rates reduce the risk of disease outbreaks and protect entire communities, including individuals who are more vulnerable or those who are too young to receive immunizations.”
Vaccination rates of younger children dropped during the pandemic as many parents postponed well-child visits to avoid the risk of exposure to COVID-19. As a result, the most recent data from MDHHS shows that only 66.1% of children aged 19 to 36 months have completed their recommended doses in the primary childhood vaccine series – the lowest rate Michigan has seen since 2020. This means that many young children in Michigan are vulnerable to potentially dangerous diseases.
The 10 areas in Michigan with the lowest vaccination rates for children aged 19 to 36 months are: Oscoda County (29.5%), Keweenaw County (42.90%), the city of Detroit (47.2%), Lake County (52.8%), Clare County (57%), and Iron County (57.6%), Houghton County (57.9%), Sanilac County (58.8%), Wayne County (60.4%) and Gladwin County (60.4%). Currently, only 36 out of 83 counties in Michigan have a childhood vaccination rate of 70% or more. 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.
“Now’s the time for parents to call their child’s health care provider and schedule an appointment to get caught up on routine vaccinations,” said Terri Adams, MDHHS Immunization Division Director. “Not only are vaccines safe and effective, but they play a significant role in preventing the spread of life-threatening diseases in our communities.”
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, protecting our children is our top priority. The good news is that vaccinating your child is one of the safest and most effective things you can do to protect them,” said McNally. “It’s okay to have questions – that means you’re a good parent. It’s crucial to get factual answers from credible sources, such as your child’s primary care doctor or IVaccinate.org, to make the most informed decision about your child’s health.”
Following the CDC-recommended immunization 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 immunization 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.