This story appeared in Fox 17. Read the full story here.

Doctors and public health leaders from across the state held a news conference Monday morning urging parents to keep up with their children’s routine vaccinations.

Vaccination rates among children have dropped below 70% in more than half the state as parents have put off routine doctor’s visits for their children during the pandemic.

Doctors say that puts the entire community at risk for diseases like measles, mumps, pertussis, chickenpox and more.

In six Michigan counties and the City of Detroit, the rate has dropped below 60%.

“At a time when our health care system is becoming once again overwhelmed with COVID-19 pandemic, it’s important that we should avoid outbreaks of preventable serious diseases,” said Bob Swanson, immunization director for the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services. “It’s time to catch up on Michigan children who did not get their routine vaccinations over the past year so we can protect them and our friends, families and loved ones who are medically unable to be vaccinated.”

The 10 areas with the lowest vaccination rates for children ages 19 to 36 months are:

– Oscoda County (45.2%)

– City of Detroit (49%)

– Gladwin County (55.9%)

– Iron County (58.3%)

– Lake County (59.2%)

– Clare County (59.3%)

– Otsego County (59.9%)

– Mackinac County (60.7%)

– Cass County (61%)

– Houghton County (61.3%)

“As things continue to open up, kids who are not caught up on routine vaccinations won’t be protected from these potentially serious and preventable illnesses,” said Dr. Herbert Smitherman, professor of internal medicine for the School of Medicine and the Karmanos Cancer Institute at Wayne State University. “Make it a priority. If we don’t, these diseases can and will make a comeback, and I have seen firsthand their devastating impact on families.”