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Michigan physicians say routine child immunization rates are down

Michigan physicians say there’s been a drop in immunization rates over the past two years —particularly among children. That includes vaccines for diseases such as polio and measles.

At a media briefing on Monday hosted by the Michigan Academy of Family Physicians, the drop was attributed to a lack of access to in-person care earlier in the pandemic and misinformation around vaccines.

“Since the beginning of the COVID pandemic, we have seen an alarming decrease in childhood vaccinations and adult vaccinations that protect against highly contagious and serious illnesses,” said Dr. Delicia Pruitt, medical director for Saginaw County Health Department and associate professor of medicine at Central Michigan University. “Now we need to reverse this trend before we see these preventable diseases return.”

Pruitt said there’s been a 6% drop in toddler vaccinations statewide and currently, 32% of Michigan toddlers are at risk for preventable diseases because their immunizations are not up to date. Immunization rates are lower among children of color, children living in poverty, and those who are uninsured or are covered by Medicaid, she said.

"Immunizations are the reasons we have eliminated so many illnesses suffered by past generations," Pruitt said. "Since we don't hear much these days about many of these contagious illnesses of the past, people often forget just how dangerous they actually are."

She and the other physicians urged parents to get their children up-to-date on immunizations before school starts.

“One of the biggest threats to health right now is the misinformation around health-related issues, especially vaccines,” said Dr. Beena Nagappala, president-elect of the Michigan Academy of Family Physicians.

Sophia Kalakailo joined Michigan Radio in Sept. 2021 and is a senior at Michigan State University studying journalism and minoring in documentary production. She previously interned at Bridge Michigan and was an editor for The State News and The Eastern Echo covering a wide range of topics.
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