This article appeared in The News-Herald. Read more here.
Health officials used an Aug. 15 news conference at River Rouge High School to push parents to add another item to their back-to-school checklists — immunizations.
Following a measles outbreak of over 1,000 cases in 30 states, including 46 in Michigan, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer declared August as Immunization Awareness Month.
Whitmer called vaccinations “more important than ever.”
According to “I Vaccinate” — a public-private campaign launched by the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services and the Franny Strong Foundation — the state is seeing hundreds of cases of whooping cough, mumps and chickenpox each year.
The campaign is trying to raise awareness of the fact that a medical consensus on the safety and efficacy of vaccines already exists and to emphasize that communities with low vaccination rates — that is, less than 90 percent of children — are at a higher risk of disease outbreaks.
The organization also pointed to the risk that vaccination waivers pose when clustered at the building or community level.
Nearly 400 public and private K-12 schools and 295 day care programs in Michigan had 10 percent or more of their students submit waivers in 2017, according to the state.
“Get yourself and your loved ones vaccinated on time,” said Letha Martin, immunization action plan coordinator for the Oakland County Health Division. “This will help keep those diseases from getting a foothold in our communities, our schools and our child cares.
“You will also help protect those who cannot be immunized due to their young age or medical conditions. Develop a relationship with your primary care provider or your community or public health providers — like Beaumont Teen Health Center — so that you can have these conversations about immunizations, you can get those questions answered from a credible, trusted source.”
Beaumont operates a Teen Health Center at River Rouge High School, 1460 W. Coolidge, as well as others at Romulus High School, 9650 S. Wayne Road, and the Western Wayne Family Health Center, 26650 Eureka Road, Taylor.
Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, MDHHS chief deputy director for health and chief medical executive, said parents shouldn’t wait.
“Vaccines protect our children from serious and preventable diseases,” she said. “Now is the time to visit your local health department or family doctor for immunizations, to help your kids start the school year on the right foot.”
For more information, visit ivaccinate.org.