Vax rates are down in Michigan kids, and not just for COVID

This story appeared in FOX 17 News. Read more here.

Many of the state’s top health leaders are urging parents to get their kids vaccinated – and not just against COVID-19.

With a return to school sitting on the horizon, schools are mulling their options for safety as the dangerous Delta variant affects mostly adolescents and the unvaccinated.

“A choice to vaccinate is not just a personal choice, it’s a choice to protect an entire community,” said Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, Chief Medical Executive at the Michigan Dept. of Health and Human Services on a virtual press conference Monday. “State data shows, as of last spring, childhood vaccination rates have slipped below 70% in more than half of Michigan counties. This is very concerning.”

Dr. Khaldun isn’t just referring to COVID-19 vaccinations, but to all vaccines. Refusal on the part of parent to vaccinate their kids against mumps, measles, chicken pox, whooping cough and more has led to a resurgence in cases of those highly preventable diseases.

“There’s no question that this pandemic has led to an increased risk of vaccine-preventable diseases, particularly among our unvaccinated children,” said Veronica McNally, founder of Franny Strong and the I-Vaccinate Campaign.

In 2012, McNally lost her daughter Francesca to pertussis – or whooping cough – a preventable disease that there is a vaccine for and now encourages other parents to utilize highly the highly effective existing vaccines.

“We understand now that spread can start with one person,” she said. “We simply cannot afford another outbreak or epidemic of one of these vaccine preventable diseases.”

McNally said 46-out-of-83 Michigan counties have adolescent vaccination levels below 70% – the desirable rate of vaccination in any population. Seven of those counties, and the city of Detroit, have levels below 60% overall adolescent vaccination. Rates in the state dropped roughly 3.5% alone since the pandemic started.

“A vaccine protects you and a vaccine protects others and when we start talking about herd immunity that’s what we’re trying to say. Seems to be a message we can’t get through,” said Linda Vail, Ingham County Health Official. “We can get to a point where COVID is a preventable disease. We owe it to our children, we owe it to our communities to end this pandemic and to get vaccinated.”

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I Vaccinate provides information and tools based on real medical science and research to help Michigan parents protect their kids. Support is provided by the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services and the Franny Strong Foundation.

You’ve got questions. That’s a good thing.

As parents, determining how best to protect our children can be overwhelming and confusing. We’re here to help.

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