Recent stay-at-home orders due to the COVID-19 pandemic have resulted in declines in outpatient pediatric visits and fewer vaccine doses being administered. This leaves children at risk for vaccine-preventable diseases. According to data from the Michigan Care Improvement Registry (MCIR), the percentage of 5-month-olds in Michigan who were fully up to date on all recommended vaccines decreased from about two-thirds during 2016-2019 to less than half in May 2020. In addition, only 53.1 percent of Michigan children 19 months through 35 months of age were fully immunized with recommended vaccines according to MCIR data.
August is National Immunization Awareness Month (NIAM). This annual observance highlights the importance of getting recommended vaccines throughout your life. You have the power to protect yourself and your family against serious diseases (like whooping cough, cancers caused by HPV, and pneumonia) through on-time vaccination. Some vaccine-preventable diseases, such as chickenpox and pertussis (whooping cough), remain common in the United States. Since 2010, the CDC sees between 10,000 and 50,000 cases of whooping cough each year in the United States. Most of the deaths each year are in young babies. Vaccines can prevent these deaths from occurring.
Ensuring immunization services are maintained is essential for protecting individuals and communities from vaccine-preventable diseases and outbreaks. Parents should contact their child’s healthcare provider to find out what vaccines their child needs, discuss the safety measures put in place to protect patients, and schedule an appointment. August is also a key time to make sure you are up to date on all the vaccines your family needs to stay healthy.
If your insurance coverage has been disrupted or there is concern about being able to afford childhood vaccines, the Michigan Vaccines for Children (VFC) program can help. It provides vaccines for children through age 18 years who are Medicaid-eligible, uninsured, underinsured, American Indian, or Alaska Native. Contact the LMAS District Health Department at 906.293.5107 for more information.