Stay up to date on vaccinations during COVID-19

A message to Michigan families:

During this unprecedented time, we encourage you to continue to follow the health guidelines laid out by Governor Whitmer and the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS).

Scientists and researchers are learning more and more about COVID-19 every day. Unfortunately, we’re also seeing the spread of misinformation, false and dangerous treatments and home remedies. We urge you to refer to your doctor and other credible sources like IVaccinate.org and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website for answers to your health questions, especially questions about vaccines.

The COVID-19 pandemic gives a glimpse of the impact of serious diseases without vaccines and is a stark reminder of how diseases without vaccines can harm our nation’s economy and public health. Vaccines have drastically reduced infant deaths and disability caused by preventable disease in the U.S. Before vaccines, parents in the United States could expect that every year:

  • Polio would paralyze 10,000 children.
  • Pertussis (whooping cough) would kill 8,000 infants.
  • Measles would infect about 4 million children, killing about 500.
  • Rubella (German measles) would cause birth defects and intellectual disabilities in as many as 20,000 newborns.
  • Diphtheria would be one of the most common causes of death in school-aged children.
  • A bacterium called Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib) would cause meningitis in 15,000 children, leaving many with permanent brain damage.

Fewer Michigan children are currently up to date on their routine vaccines because of postponed well-child visits during the COVID-19 pandemic, making it easier for diseases to spread. Among those are vaccines for potentially deadly pertussis (whooping cough) and particularly contagious measles, which broke out nationally last year and included 46 cases in Michigan.

At a time when our healthcare system is already overwhelmed, it’s important that we avoid outbreaks of preventable, potentially deadly diseases. That’s why we’re encouraging Michigan families to reach out to their doctor and make a plan for staying up to date or getting caught up on vaccinations.

Following the CDC-recommended immunization schedule protects infants and children by providing immunity early in life, when they are most at risk for getting seriously ill from these diseases if they are exposed. This schedule has been developed so that your child receives the vaccines at the age when he or she will have the best response to develop immunity.

The CDC and American Academy of Pediatrics are recommending that healthcare providers still see patients in person for well child visits, and especially those for the children under age 2 who need the routine vaccines. To support this recommendation and social distancing, many healthcare offices are changing the way they operate to separate well visits from sick visits. If your doctor’s office is not open or not offering well child visits, make it a priority to get caught up when offices open up again.

Frequently Asked Questions

Staying safe during COVID-19

In most cases, yes. But you need to first contact your family physician or local health department to ask about their policies and discuss your family’s specific situation and options.

The American Academy of Pediatrics is recommending that healthcare providers still see patients in person for well child visits, and especially those for the children under age 2 who need the routine vaccines.

It’s important that infants and toddlers continue to receive their immunizations on time and according to the schedule recommended by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

While there is not yet a vaccine for COVID-19, the CDC-recommended vaccination schedule helps protect kids from 14 vaccine-preventable diseases by age 2. Many of these diseases are serious. At a time when our healthcare system is already overwhelmed, it’s important that we avoid outbreaks of preventable diseases, like measles, pertussis (whooping cough) and mumps.

Learn more about why it’s important to follow the CDC-recommended schedule.

Because of personal, practice, or community circumstances related to COVID-19, some providers may not be able to offer well child visits, including providing immunizations, for all patients in their practice. If a practice can provide only limited well child visits, the CDC is encouraging healthcare providers to prioritize newborn care and vaccination of infants and young children (through 24 months of age) when possible.

Sources:
CDC: COVID-19 Information for Pediatric Healthcare Providers
AAP: Guidance on Providing Pediatric Well-Care During COVID-19

You can encourage your child to help stop the spread of COVID-19 by teaching them to do the same things everyone should do to stay healthy.

  • Avoid people who are sick (coughing and sneezing).
  • Stay home when you are sick, except to get medical care.
  • Cover your coughs and sneezes with a tissue and throw the tissue in the trash.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing; going to the bathroom; and before eating or preparing food.
  • If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol. Always wash hands with soap and water if visibly dirty.
  • Clean and disinfect high-touch surfaces daily in household common areas (like tables, hard-backed chairs, doorknobs, light switches, remotes, handles, desks, toilets, and sinks).
  • Launder items, including washable plush toys, as appropriate and in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions. If possible, launder items using the warmest appropriate water setting for the items and dry items completely. Dirty laundry from a sick person can be washed with other people’s items.

Many states currently have stay-at-home orders in place. During this time, it’s important to teach your children and teens how to practice social distancing. The key to slowing the spread of COVID-19 is to limit contact as much as possible.

  • While school is out, children should not have in-person playdates with children from other households.
  • If children are playing outside their own homes, they should remain 6 feet from anyone who is not in their own household.
  • Avoid having your children or teens gather (playgrounds, park equipment, etc.).
  • The CDC is recommending that children over the age of 2 wear masks when going out in public where other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain (e.g., grocery stores and pharmacies), especially in areas of significant community-based transmission.

For infants, the best way is to limit exposure and avoid unnecessary public contact. If going out is essential and you must bring your baby:

  • Keep the outing short and always follow the 6 feet distancing rule.
  • Cover the infant carrier (not your baby) with a light blanket. This will help protect your baby, but still gives them the ability to breathe comfortably. Do not leave the blanket on the carrier in the car or at any time when your baby and carrier are not in your direct view. Check on your baby often.
  • Do not put a cloth face covering on your baby, or any child under the age of 2.
  • Never leave children alone in the car. It can become deadly hot in a short time.
  • Wash your hands (and any children’s hands) as soon as you return home.

You can find additional information from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on preventing COVID-19 here:

Source:
CDC: COVID-19 Frequently Asked Questions

The CDC recommends that everyone 2 years and older wear a cloth face covering that covers their nose and mouth in public settings where other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain (e.g., grocery stores and pharmacies), especially in areas of significant community-based transmission.

Cloth face coverings should NOT be put on babies or children younger than 2 because of the danger of suffocation. Children younger than 2 years of age are listed as an exception as well as anyone who has trouble breathing or is unconscious, incapacitated, or otherwise unable to remove the face covering without assistance.

Wearing cloth face coverings is a public health measure people should take to reduce the spread of COVID-19 in addition to (not instead of) social distancing, frequent hand cleaning and other everyday preventive actions.

A cloth face covering is not intended to protect the wearer but may prevent the spread of virus from the wearer to others. This would be especially important if someone is infected but does not have symptoms.

Medical face masks and N95 respirators are still reserved for healthcare personnel and other first responders.

For more information about face coverings/masks and how to make your own, visit the CDC’s website.

More specifics on face coverings from the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services can be found here.

Sources:
CDC: Cloth Face Coverings
CDC: COVID-19 Frequently Asked Questions
MDHHS: Face Coverings Frequently Asked Questions

The symptoms of COVID-19 appear to be similar in children and adults. Children with confirmed COVID-19 have generally presented with mild, cold-like symptoms, such as fever, runny nose and cough. Vomiting and diarrhea have also been reported.

It’s not known yet whether some children may be at higher risk for severe illness, for example, children with underlying medical conditions and special healthcare needs. Studies are ongoing regarding how the disease impacts everyone, including children.

Health officials are advising parents to watch for symptoms related to a rare but serious inflammatory condition seen in children and linked to COVID-19, called multisystem inflammatory syndrome (MIS-C). If you notice any of the following symptoms, call your pediatrician:

  • A fever lasting more than 24 hours
  • Abdominal pain, diarrhea or vomiting
  • Rash or changes in skin color
  • Trouble breathing (call 911 if this symptom is present)
  • Your child seems confused or overly sleepy​

Be sure to let your pediatrician know if your child has tested positive for COVID-19 or has been exposed to the virus. Your pediatrician will let you know you if your child can be seen in the office or if you need to go to the emergency department.

While potentially serious, MIS-C appears to be rare, and most cases of COVID-19 in children are mild.

Source:
CDC: COVID-19 Frequently Asked Questions
CDC: MIS-C and COVID-19
AAP: MIS-C and COVID-19

At this time, there are no Federal Drug Administration (FDA) approved vaccines to prevent COVID-19 or other coronaviruses.

The U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) is working with vaccine developers and other researchers and manufacturers to help with the development and availability of medical products such as vaccines, antibodies and drugs to prevent COVID-19.

The significant impact of COVID-19 has led to unprecedented, worldwide collaboration amongst scientists, health and government officials and manufacturers. On May 15, 2020, the Trump Administration announced a national program to accelerate the development, manufacturing, and distribution of COVID-19 vaccines, treatments and medical countermeasures, called Operation Warp Speed. The program will bring together leaders from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Food & Drug Administration, the National Institutes of Health, and the Department of Defense, as well as private firms. Experts from these organizations will oversee the process and protocols for COVID-19 vaccine development, manufacturing and distribution, with the goal of having substantial quantities of a safe and effective vaccine available in the U.S. by January 2021.

Source:
FDA: COVID-19 Frequently Asked Questions

It can take several years for a new vaccine to be developed. Most vaccines take 10 to 20 years of development, testing and clinical trials before they are approved for public use.

More than 100 possible vaccines for COVID-19 are in various stages of development around the world, according to the World Health Organization — some of which have begun clinical trials.

But even when scientists develop a vaccine that works against COVID-19, it could be 12 to 18 months at best before it’s ready for the public. That’s only a fraction of the usual time and due to advanced vaccine development processes being explored to develop vaccines. While this timeframe may be faster than the typical 10 to 20 years, development and safety testing must and will still be conducted before a vaccine is offered to the public.

Vaccines undergo a rigorous review of laboratory and clinical data to ensure the safety and effectiveness. Vaccines approved for marketing may also be required to undergo additional studies to further evaluate the vaccine and often to address specific questions about the vaccine’s safety, effectiveness, or possible side effects.

The significant impact of COVID-19 has led to unprecedented, worldwide collaboration amongst scientists, health and government officials and manufacturers. On May 15, 2020, the Trump Administration announced a national program to accelerate the development, manufacturing, and distribution of COVID-19 vaccines, treatments and medical countermeasures, called Operation Warp Speed. The program will bring together leaders from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Food & Drug Administration, the National Institutes of Health, and the Department of Defense, as well as private firms. Experts from these organizations will oversee the process and protocols for COVID-19 vaccine development, manufacturing and distribution, with the goal of having substantial quantities of a safe and effective vaccine available in the U.S. by January 2021.

Sources:
WHO: Q&A on coronaviruses (COVID-19)
WebMD: COVID-19 Vaccine
FDA: COVID-19 Frequently Asked Questions

The flu has a shorter time from infection to appearance of symptoms (usually about 3 days from when you are infected to when you start showing symptoms). With COVID-19, this time is estimated to be about 5 to 6 days before symptoms appear.

It also appears that for every person infected with the COVID-19 virus, that person may infect two more people, which is higher than for influenza. While it is difficult to compare the two viruses, because of differences in environment, COVID-19 will on average spread faster than influenza.

While the of symptoms for the two viruses is similar, the percentage of people with severe symptoms seems to be higher for those infected with the COVID-19 virus. For COVID-19, around 80 percent of infections are mild or show no symptoms, 15 percent are severe infections, requiring oxygen, and 5 percent are critical infections, requiring a ventilator.

Those most at risk for severe cases of the flu are children, pregnant women, elderly, those with underlying chronic medical conditions and those who are immunosuppressed. For COVID-19, the current understanding is that older age and underlying conditions increase the risk for severe infection.

More people die of COVID-19 than influenza, especially seasonal influenza. While the true death rate of COVID-19 will take some time to fully understand, the data so far indicates that the  number of reported deaths compared to reported cases is between 3 to 4 percent. The infection death rate, which is the number of reported deaths divided by the number of infections, will be lower as more testing is available. For seasonal influenza, below 0.1% of cases die. However, it’s important to note that the death rate is largely impacted by access to and quality of health care.

Source:
World Health Organization: Q&A on Influenza and COVID-19

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and partners are investigating to determine if you can get sick with COVID-19 more than once. At this time, it is not known if you can become reinfected. Until more is known, continue to take steps to protect yourself and others.

Source:
CDC: COVID-19 Frequently Asked Questions

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