As parents, our ultimate goal is to protect our children and give them the best life possible.

That’s why during National Infant Immunization Week, I Vaccinate is joining communities across the country to highlight the importance of protecting our children from vaccine-preventable diseases, especially as infants when they are most vulnerable.

In March, Michigan and national public health experts, physicians, hospitals, and the Franny Strong Foundation launched the “I Vaccinate” public health education campaign to help parents protect their children from vaccine-preventable diseases that cause serious illnesses and can kill.

Michigan’s childhood immunization rate is among the nation’s worst — ranking 43th lowest in the United States for children ages 19 to 35 months, according to the 2015 National Immunization Survey. Data from the Michigan Care Improvement Registry show that only 54 percent of children ages 19 to 35 months are up-to-date on all recommended immunizations.

I Vaccinate, designed with input from Michigan mothers, 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.

The Franny Strong Foundation is dedicated to boosting childhood immunization rates by giving parents access to science-based facts that demonstrate vaccines are safe and effective. The foundation was founded by Veronica and Sean McNally of Oakland County in memory of the couple’s daughter, Francesca, who died of whooping cough at age 3 months in 2012.

Veronica and Sean have made it their life’s work to teach others why vaccination is so important. Listen to Veronica’s interview with Michigan Public Radio to learn more about their story.

Consensus exists

National Infant Immunization Week is just one example of the consensus that exists within the medical community that vaccines are safe and effective.

In fact, the I Vaccinate campaign is supported by the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, the Franny Strong Foundation, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Michigan hospitals, the states’ top physician organizations, and many other groups that advocate for public and children’s health.

Hundreds of medical studies completed over many decades by credible and respected doctors and scientists across the world have found that vaccines are safe for the overwhelming majority of children and adults.

Among children born during 1994-2016, vaccination will prevent an estimated 381 million illnesses, 24.5 million hospitalizations, and 855,000 deaths over the course of their lifetimes.

The best protection

Getting children vaccinated is the best thing parents can do to protect their children from vaccine-preventable diseases.

Because of the success of vaccines in preventing disease, parents may not have heard of some of today’s vaccines or the serious diseases they prevent. These diseases can be especially serious for infants and young children.

That’s why it is important to follow the recommended immunization schedule to protect infants and children by providing immunity early in life, before they are exposed to potentially life-threatening diseases.

Vaccine-preventable diseases still circulate in the United States and around the world, so making sure your kids are up-to-date on vaccinations is important to protect everyone from potential outbreaks. Even when diseases are rare in the U.S., they can still be commonly transmitted in many parts of the world and brought into the country by unvaccinated individuals, putting unvaccinated people at risk.

What can you do?

Talk to your child’s pediatrician if you have questions or concerns, and learn more by reading credible medical resources, like those found on I Vaccinate or through the CDC. You can also share these resources with friends, family members, or neighbors who are looking for information about vaccines. See all of our resources here.