Michigan State Medical Society > About MSMS > News & Media > Michigan Medicine Magazine > July-August 2020 > Protect your patients before the upcoming school year!

Protect your patients before the upcoming school year!

Alyssa Strouse, MPH, Adult and Adolescent Immunization Coordinator, MDHHS Division of Immunization Maria McGinnis, BSN, RN, Vaccines for Children Coordinator, MDHHS Division Immunization

The back-to-school season includes several checklists as parents are busy making sure their children are equipped with the right supplies and ready to take on the next school year. This year, many children have been participating in e-learning for months due to the COVID-19 pandemic and are that much more eager to return to school. Summer months are the ideal time to call parents and remind them that vaccines are important back-to-school items as well. This year, that message is even more important as many children and adolescents have fallen behind in their immunizations throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) urges you to call your patients who are overdue or coming due for vaccines and encourage them to get vaccinated before the upcoming school year.

According to the Michigan Care Improvement Registry (MCIR), data published in a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR), looked at up-to-date status for individual vaccines and recommended age-based vaccine series at a point in time in May 2020 and compared it with 1-month age cohort assessments for points in time in May 2016-May 2019. The data indicated a sharp decline in up-to-date status in almost all age cohorts. Further, the number of non-influenza vaccine doses administered and reported for children 18 years decreased 21.5% during January-April 2020, in comparison to the same averaged time periods in 2018 and 2019. (1) For more information on this MMWR, visit https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/volumes/69/wr/mm6920e1.htm.

Providers are encouraged to utilize the MCIR to conduct reminders and recalls to ensure their patients are up-to-date on all vaccines. Recall letters can be generated from the MCIR and can identify cohorts of patients overdue for specific vaccines. Further, providers have the option to change verbiage on the letters to illustrate specific messages that their practice may want to share. These messages can include information on the importance of vaccines and how to schedule a vaccine appointment for their child. In addition, reminders and Quality Improvement Eligible Not Yet Overdue Immunizations reports can also be generated using the MCIR to identify any patients that may be coming due for vaccines. For more information on how to run reminders or recalls, visit www.mcir.org or contact your MCIR regional staff. For more information on how to run Quality Improvement reports in MCIR, contact your Local Health Department (www.michigan.gov/LHDmap).

With the peak in need for vaccines during this back-to-school rush, it is essential to ensure access to vaccine, particularly to those who need it most. Families across the country and state rely on a public-funded vaccine program called the Vaccines for Children (VFC) program. This program provides vaccine at NO COST to eligible patients and providers. Eligible patients are less than 19 years of age and meet one of the following:

  • Medicaid-eligible
  • Uninsured
  • American Indian or Alaska Native
  • Underinsured

As families face challenges such as unemployment and insurance status changes, utilization of programs such as these are more important than ever. Being a VFC provider is a sound investment in your practice and patients – supporting vaccine access to families who may otherwise not be able to afford it. As a VFC provider, you can provide government purchased vaccine to your eligible patients and reduce your out of pocket costs. You can have the ability to provide all ACIP-recommended vaccines to your eligible patients, aligning with services provided to populations receiving Early and Periodic Screening, Diagnostic and Treatment (EPSDT). Patients can receive VFC vaccine at no cost. However, an “administration fee” can be charged per vaccine to help offset costs of business.



  1. Review Michigan VFC details: www.michigan.gov/vfc
  2. Contact your Local Health Department (LHD) to enroll: www.michigan.gov/lhdmap
  3. Receive a site visit from LHD to review requirements and ensure proper storage and handling of vaccines.
  4. Inform your patients that you are now a VFC Provider!

Now is the time to assess the vaccination status for your patients and ensure that they are caught up on all their recommended vaccines. It is crucial that we protect all Michigan residents from diseases that we have vaccines to protect against, especially as we continue to fight this COVID-19 pandemic. Make sure your patients are equipped with everything they need, including their vaccines, for a safe, happy, and healthy 2020-2021 school year.



1.      Bramer CA, Kimmins LM, Swanson R, et al. Decline in Child Vaccination Coverage During the COVID-19 Pandemic — Michigan Care Improvement Registry, May 2016–May 2020. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep 2020;69:630–631. DOI: https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/volumes/69/wr/mm6920e1.htm