Vaccination is one of the best ways parents can protect infants, children, and teens from 16 potentially harmful diseases. Vaccine-preventable diseases can be very serious, may require hospitalization, or even be deadly — especially in infants and young children.

Michigan’s childhood immunization rate is among the nation’s worst — ranking 43rd lowest in the United States for children ages 19 to 35 months, according to the 2015 National Immunization Survey.

In response to this, Michigan and national health experts and partners have launched a public health education campaign to help parents protect their children from vaccine-preventable diseases that cause serious illnesses and can kill.

The “I Vaccinate” campaign provides the facts parents need to make informed decisions about vaccinations.

Most parents today have never seen first-hand the devastating consequences that vaccine-preventable diseases have on a child, a family or community. Aside from protecting yourself or your child, vaccinations can help others, too.

Herd Immunity or “community immunity” is when 80%-90% of all of the people in the enclosed space are immunized,” said Dr. Donald Beam, Chief Medical Officer for Blue Cross Complete. “That usually prevents someone from passing the disease on or if someone who has not been immunized to be able to catch the disease.”

However, data from the Michigan Care Improvement Registry show that only 54 percent of children ages 19 to 35 months and 29 percent of teens 13 to 18 years old are up-to-date on all recommended immunizations.

“It depends upon the disease and the form of transmission, but children typically are close to each other in schools and in daycare where coughing and touching can occur easily,” said Dr. Beam.

Efforts have been made to improve vaccination coverage and as a result, more people are getting vaccinated. In recent years, Michigan had some of the lowest vaccination rates in the country.