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Doctors urging parents not to forget about vaccinations besides COVID-19

Published: Apr. 12, 2021 at 5:23 PM EDT
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LANSING, Mich. (WILX) - Veronica McNally, President of the Franny Strong Foundation, is urging everyone to get their children vaccinated. She’s not talking about the COVID-19 vaccine, she’s talking about the many childhood vaccines parents are skipping during the pandemic.

Now, health care workers are trying to get the message out that those shots are too important to skip -- and maybe more important than the coronavirus vaccine.

For all the talk about getting enough people vaccinated against COVID-19 to develop herd immunity, we’re in danger of losing that protection against other diseases.

McNally said, “Our childhood vaccination rates have slipped below 70% in more than half of Michigan counties, putting community immunity in jeopardy.”

They say many parents have postponed routine wellness visits to avoid potential coronavirus exposure. Dr. Herbert Smitherman from the Wayne State University School Of Medicine says that postponing some doctor’s visits could have been the right move at the beginning of the pandemic, but the math changes as time goes on.

“Parents did the right thing for the children by following the shelter in place or stay at home orders,” Smitherman said. “But it decreased our ability to continue providing basically routine preventive and non-emergent care, including routing childhood vaccines.”

One family doctor thinks there are other pandemic-related issued besides fear of exposure that are keeping parents away.

Now they’re worried about an even greater resurgence of preventable diseases.

Bob Swanson, Starte Immunization Division Director, did not mince words.

Swanson said, “If I look at our five-year-olds that are recommended to two doses of measles, mumps and rubella vaccines, we’re now at 76%. In order to achieve the heard immunity we need to prevent measles from spreading, we need to be at least 90% and really 95%.”

And that could put kids at far greater risk than they’re at from COVID-19.

You can contact your county health department if you need help getting your child basic immunization shots.

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