Fewer Michigan children are currently up to date on their routine vaccines because of postponed well-child visits during the COVID-19 pandemic. That’s why the Michigan State Medical Society (MSMS) is urging families to get children and teens caught up on all recommended vaccines as soon as possible.
Scientists and researchers are learning more and more about COVID-19 every day. Unfortunately, we’re also seeing the spread of misinformation, false and dangerous treatments and home remedies. We urge you to refer to your doctor and other credible sources like IVaccinate.org and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website for answers to your health questions, especially questions about vaccines.
The COVID-19 pandemic gives a glimpse of the impact of serious diseases without vaccines. Vaccines have drastically reduced infant deaths and disability caused by preventable disease in the U.S. Before vaccines, parents in the United States could expect that every year:
- Polio would paralyze 10,000 children.
- Pertussis (whooping cough) would kill 8,000 infants.
- Measles would infect about 4 million children, killing about 500.
- Rubella (German measles) would cause birth defects and intellectual disabilities in as many as 20,000 newborns.
- Diphtheria would be one of the most common causes of death in school-aged children.
- A bacterium called Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib) would cause meningitis in 15,000 children, leaving many with permanent brain damage.
Because of the pandemic, it is especially important to ensure everyone is protected against vaccine-preventable diseases. Decreased immunization rates put Michiganders at risk for disease outbreaks. In May, a study was published in the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report showing how COVID-19 has had a negative impact on routine vaccinations in Michigan. 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. Among those are vaccines for potentially deadly pertussis (whooping cough) and particularly contagious measles, which broke out nationally last year and included 46 cases in Michigan.
At a time when our healthcare system is already overwhelmed, it’s important that we avoid outbreaks of preventable, potentially deadly diseases. That’s why we’re encouraging Michigan families to reach out to their doctor and make a plan for staying up to date or getting caught up on vaccinations.
Following the CDC-recommended immunization schedule protects infants and children by providing immunity early in life, when they are most at risk for getting seriously ill from these diseases if they are exposed. This schedule has been developed so that your child receives the vaccines at the age when they will have the best response to develop immunity.
Many healthcare providers are implementing new procedures to ensure patients can safely come in for well visits and to get caught up on immunizations, including checking in from the car, limiting how many people can accompany a child and requiring face masks. The CDC has released extensive guidance for healthcare providers on how to continue to provide immunization services safely during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Learn more about keeping your family protected during the COVID-19 pandemic and get the facts about vaccines at IVaccinate.org.