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Following a post-pandemic decrease in vaccination rates, the Ingham County Health Department is encouraging kids of all ages to get their shots.
Whether it’s protecting against something seasonal, like the latest flu or Covid-19 strain, or a childhood illness like chickenpox, there’s a vaccination out there to fight it. Over the last several years, Ingham County Health Department Chief Medical Health Officer, Dr. Nike Shoyinka, said vaccination rates have taken quite the nosedive.
“We want our numbers to be at least over 70% for children,” she said. “And right now, across the state of Michigan, the vaccination numbers stand at around 66 percent.”
Shoyinka said that 70% benchmark is necessary to maintain herd immunity, which also helps to protect those who aren’t vaccinated. With a new strain of Covid-19 on the scene, and kids heading back to the classroom, she said it’s the ideal time for the health department to re-launch its Your Shot campaign.
The campaign includes an advertisement and education strategy that lets people know the facts about vaccines, while pushing them to stay up to date on vaccines necessary for their protection.
“Life happens,” Shoyinka said. “We’re busy, and things just don’t happen, so I encourage parents, especially now as we’re getting our back-to-school lists ready, make sure you add vaccinations for your kids to that back-to-school list.
Jackson parent Meg McClain said the conversation around vaccinations changed a lot in the years since her teenage daughter was born and her elementary school-aged son. She believes the real danger for children lies in what can happen to them without vaccination.
“I mean, it is difficult, but it’s all about risk versus reward, if you will,” she said. “The risks are really pretty small, whereas if they get this disease, the risk is much higher that they’re going to be seriously impaired.”
McClain said every parent, regardless of their beliefs, should take the decision to vaccinate seriously, and do what’s best for the health of their child.
Shoyinka said parents who are unsure where to find vaccinations for their children can call the Ingham County Health Department, or their primary care physician.