Time to get caught up on your vaccines…
The coronavirus isn’t the only looming health threat in Michigan. According to recent reports, many people are putting off their regularly scheduled medical visits and as a result, even fewer people are getting the vaccines they need. The American Academy of Pediatrics estimated that in April, 70 to 80 percent of children were not seeing the doctor.
In May, vaccination rates among the general population were down 44.5 percent from previous years, according to the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services. For Michigan teenagers, the numbers are even more startling – a whopping 65.5 percent drop.
Even before the pandemic, Michigan was starting to see a drop in vaccination rates and an increase in vaccine-preventable diseases. You might remember seeing whooping cough and the measles in the news before COVID-19. Those diseases, which were mostly a thing of the past, are starting to reappear, largely due to a drop in vaccination rates among children.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), among children born between 1994-2018, vaccination will prevent an estimated 419 million illnesses, 26.8 million hospitalizations, and 936,000 deaths over their lifetimes.
Deciding to get vaccinated is more than just a personal decision: it affects families, communities, and the larger health care system. Keeping yourself and your loved ones up to date on their vaccinations can provide protection to vulnerable individuals, including babies, seniors, and those with weakened immune systems. The current pandemic has reminded us how intertwined everyone’s health is. You may be young and healthy, but mom and dad or your older coworker might not.
Would you take your child on a car ride without putting their seat belt on? Of course not; seat belts are a safe and effective way of preventing something harmful from happening to them. The same goes for vaccines. Making sure children are up to date on their vaccine schedule is a highly safe and effective way to protect them from many different diseases – some of which are deadly or can create long-term complications.
Maybe you’ve heard that vaccines cause autism or that administering multiple vaccines at once can lead to serious medical consequences. Those conspiracy theories and mistruths, which have been thoroughly debunked by science, have had an outsized impact on the overall health of children in Michigan. A recent survey of pediatricians showed that a majority of parents are choosing to spread out the timeline of their child’s vaccines against the recommendations of the CDC. The CDC has put exhaustive research into their recommended vaccine schedule and changing the timeline of it can mean putting your child at risk of infection.
By the time a vaccine is offered to the public, it has often been studied for decades in tens of thousands of study participants, by thousands of scientists, statisticians, and health care providers. Like almost all medical procedures, there may be side effects, and many are mild and go away quickly on their own. Serious side effects are incredibly rare. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, “…If 1 million doses of a vaccine are given, one to two people may have a severe allergic reaction.”
Because August is National Immunization Month and back-to-school season, this is the perfect time to learn about and share the importance of vaccines. No one should have to suffer or die from a preventable disease, and many vaccines are available regardless of whether you have insurance. With many schools choosing to resume in-person learning, it’s critical that everyone catches up on the vaccine schedule the CDC recommends. If you’re still unsure or you’d like to schedule an appointment, call one of our Medical Centers and Community First Health Centers can help you figure it out!
New Haven: 586.749.5197
Port Huron: 810.488.8000
For more resources on vaccine safety or how to combat misinformation, visit the I Vaccinate website.