With Exemption Rates Rising, Michigan Physicians, Nurses Urge Parents to Get Kids Immunized > Michigan State Medical Society


With Exemption Rates Rising, Michigan Physicians, Nurses Urge Parents to Get Kids Immunized

National Infant Immunization Week Arrives Amid Recent Outbreaks, Dwindling Vaccination Rates

LANSING - Michigan physicians, nurses, educators and health care providers today observed the start of National Infant Immunization Week by urging parents to get their children immunized to protect them from infectious diseases like measles, mumps, rubella and more.

The health care providers' call-to-action comes with outbreaks on the rise as startling new data show Michigan parents are among the most likely in the nation to elect not to vaccinate their kids against preventable, potentially deadly diseases.

According to recent data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Michigan has the 4th highest non-medical exemption rate in the nation, with 5.3 percent of parents simply choosing not to immunize their children. Only Michigan, Oregon, Vermont and Idaho have non-medical exemption rates over 5 percent.

"Childhood immunizations protect our kids from dangerous infectious diseases such as measles, mumps and whooping cough, but more and more Michigan kids are at risk as non-medical exemption rates rise and immunization rates fall," said Peter Graham, M.D., a Lansing area family physician and Past President of the Michigan Academy of Family Physicians.

In addition to Michigan's high rate of non-medical exemptions, according to the Michigan Department of Community Health, only 72 percent of Michigan children and 63 percent of adolescents are fully immunized--the rest missing at least one critical vaccination--leading to recent outbreaks of preventable diseases, like whooping cough, which have been increasing in Michigan in recent years. There were nearly 1,000 cases of whooping cough in Michigan last year alone--up nearly 18 percent over 2012--with many requiring hospitalization.

Because of their developing immune systems and exposure in settings like school and daycare, children and infants are especially vulnerable to vaccine-preventable diseases. Infants who are too young to be fully vaccinated are not protected from many preventable diseases making it critical to protect the entire family, especially school-aged children, through immunizations.

"Getting older kids immunized is especially important for infants in Michigan," said Andrea Amalfitano, D.O., PhD. "Diseases like whooping cough can be severe in infants less than six months of age, who are at highest risk of severe illness, complications, and even death."

"Each year," Ramirez continued, "thousands of children in Michigan become ill from diseases that could have been prevented and with more parents opting not to get their children vaccinated, the number of dangerous infections is likely to increase."

CDC reports conclude that immunizations are safe and effective. They are thoroughly tested before being approved, and public health officials continually monitor their safety and effectiveness. Immunization is still one of the best ways to protect your child from preventable diseases. If you have questions about immunizations, talk with your physician.

Michigan's health care providers including the Michigan Academy of Family Physicians, Michigan State Medical Society, Michigan Osteopathic Association, Michigan Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics, the Michigan Association of School Nurses, the Michigan Council for Maternal and Child Health, the School Community Health Alliance of Michigan and the Michigan Association of Health Plans are united in their effort to better educate parents about the importance of childhood immunizations.

Click here to download the National Infant Immunization Week flyer.


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