LANSING, Mich. (WLNS) — Since the pandemic hit health officials say Michigan saw an alarming drop in child immunization rates. Some doctors’ offices were closed, many parents switched to telehealth, and others were just too scared to take their kids to the doctor.
This morning, the Michigan Academy of Family Physicians and the Michigan Elementary and Middle School Principals Association held a round table to discuss the importance of this. Well-checks fell off the radar and now health experts are urging parents to get their kids caught up on their shots.
As the COVID-19 vaccine has garnered a lot of attention these days, doctors say routine vaccinations among children are seeing a major decline. Health officials say less than 70% of kids are currently up to date on their shots and it’s a dangerous trend. In fact, Michigan saw its first case of HIB influenza last year, which hasn’t been seen in a decade.
“Kids are exposed to thousands of microbes that can cause disease every day,” said Dr. Mark Hamed, president, Michigan Academy of Family Physicians and medical director.
According to these doctor’s kids are behind on all shots from Dtap, to measles to HPV. All illnesses that can be spread in schools.
“For example, one carrier of measles can affect up to 18 other people. So it’s extremely important children get caught up on their vaccines. So it’s extremely important children get caught up on their vaccines before going to in-person learning,” said Dr. Hamed.
Paul Liabenow, Executive Director of Michigan Elementary and Middle School Principals Association said the pandemic has shown how dangerous the spread of disease can be in schools.
“The spread of disease leads to loss of learning, loss of learning time for students and we don’t need anymore of that,” said Liabenow.
Ashlie Luca says despite the pandemic, she made sure her kids got their immunizations on time.
“I didn’t put it off so that I didn’t have to compound them and have them have more all at once later. I think it’s just the best. I want to make sure that they’re safe,” said Luca.
Another mother says her family is already at high risk of catching these viruses.
“We have a range of chronic health conditions which can be made worst if we had caught measles, mumps, Marbella, and if we caught the flu we are at a high risk,” the mother of 3 said.
If you’re not sure if your child is due, talk to their doctor or contact your local health department.
As we get closure to school reopening, doctors say it may be harder to get an appointment. So contact your child’s pediatrician as soon as possible.
“The relationship with your family physician or pediatrician is utmost in making this decision. If you can work with them and discuss what your questions and concerns are I think that we can work with almost all parents to come to a solution and hopefully find a way to get more and more kids vaccinated,” said Dr. Tina Tanner, Primary care medical director at Mercy Health Physicians Partners.