Vaccine hesitancy affecting back to school shots, worry health officials

Michigan

LANSING, Mich. (WLNS) — With most students back in the classroom in just a few weeks, there’s a growing concern about children not getting vaccinated- and we’re not just talking about COVID-19.

Health officials say it’s a disturbing trend statistics show “routine vaccinations” have fallen below 70% in children state-wide causing fear that some of the diseases we’ve been able to “curb”, like chicken pox and measles might be able to make a strong come back.

Now, health officials are urging parents to get their children up-to-date with their shots.

The message here is the same as it was when Ingham County Health Officer Linda Vail and Michigan’s Chief Medical Officer Joneigh Khaldun spoke this morning.

Vaccines work. They’re safe and this goes beyond just COVID-19.

For one mother I spoke with and founder of IVaccinate- this is personal.

“We were having her baptized as they took her from us.”

It happened nearly 10 years ago, but not a day goes by where Veronica McNally doesn’t think of the daughter she lost.

Francesca died as an infant in 2012 from pertussis- more commonly known as whooping cough. It’s a disease that had nearly been eradicated, but still affects a handful of people every year.

Now concern about diseases like this is on the rise.

“We simply cannot afford another outbreak or epidemic of one of these vaccine preventable diseases.”

Why the worry? Vaccination rates are down across the board in Michigan.

For children between 1 and a half and 3 years old, rates are below 70% in half of the state’s counties.In 7 of those counties and Detroit, the rate is below 60%.

Vaccination numbers in teens dropped from above 77% to below 74% just since January 2020.

“The national geographic wrote an article ‘A World Before Vaccines Is a World We Cannot Afford to Forget’ and yet increasingly since these diseases are no longer seen, we do seem to forget them”, remarked Ingham County Health Officer Linda Vail.

The country is struggling to vaccinate its youth against COVID-19 as well. Fewer than one in three kids between the ages of 12 and 15 have their shot. The number is slightly higher- around 42%- for teens ages 16 to 19.

The state’s chief medical expert Dr. Joneigh Khaldun was on hand and reminded not to get the shots for yourself- but do it for your neighbor and loved ones.

“When an area has lower vaccination rates it creates an environment where diseases can spread… so as families, students, teachers and administrators prepare for this upcoming school year, I urge every parent to make sure their child is up to date on all vaccinations.”

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