Routine vaccine rates dropping, putting youth at risk

As rates of childhood immunizations continue to fall across the state, Michigan Academy of Family Physicians is urging families to catch up on routine childhood vaccinations before the school year begins.

“The dropping rate of childhood immunizations is a growing concern that threatens the health of infants, children, teens, adults, families and our state as a whole,” said Glenn Dregansky, DO, FAAFP, president of MAFP and a family physician in Jerome, Michigan. “Without the protection of vaccines, illnesses such as measles, whooping cough, polio, COVID-19, and even the seasonal flu can easily spread and cause devastating consequences. Now is the time to get kids up to date on these critical vaccines before school begins.”

Over the last two years, Michigan’s rate of childhood immunizations has continued to fall, with a six percent decrease in toddler immunizations, leaving 32% of Michigan toddlers at risk for a preventable disease that could result in serious illness, hospitalization, permanent disability, or even death.

“People are exposed to thousands of germs every day and it’s critical that children get all doses of their routine vaccines to help prepare their immune system to fight off contagious diseases,” said Delicia Pruitt, MD, MPH, FAAFP, a family physician at CMU Medical Education Partners in Saginaw and the Saginaw County Health Department medical director. “Vaccines are the reason so many serious illnesses of past generations have been eliminated. The time is now to catch up on immunizations before we see the return of outbreaks of preventable diseases like measles, whooping cough and polio.”

Family physicians attribute some of the reduction in immunizations in recent years to people staying home in the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as the significant amount of medical misinformation that is being spread on the internet and social media.

“One of the biggest threats to staying healthy right now is misinformation around health-related issues, especially vaccines,” said Beena Nagappala, MD, MPH, medical director of community health at Ascension Southeast Michigan. “We understand there is some confusion out there, as new evidence and science-based facts have been discovered, so we encourage all families with concerns to make sure to get your information from credible sources, like your family physician.”

Dr. Nagappala continued: “Getting immunized is essential for preventing illness and maintaining wellness. It is always better to prevent illness rather than treat it, so we urge families to make an appointment with their family physician to catch up on their vaccines this month before kids return to school.”

August is National Immunization Awareness Month, and family physicians are reminding parents to make appointments with their family physician to catch up on routine vaccinations that are critical for keeping themselves, their loved ones, and others they come in contact with safe. Immunizations are also available at local health departments, health centers located within schools, and pharmacies.


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