(WXYZ) — Fewer Michigan children are up to date on vaccinations because of postponed visits during the COVID-19 pandemic, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services said.
MDHHS is urging families to get children and adolescents caught up on all recommended vaccines as soon as possible.
Decreased immunization rates put Michiganders at risk for disease outbreaks, MDHHS said.
According to data from the Michigan Care Improvement Registry (MCIR), the percentage of 5-month-olds in Michigan who were fully up to date on all recommended vaccines decreased from about two-thirds during 2016-2019 to less than half in May 2020.
In addition, only 53.1 percent of Michigan children 19 months through 35 months of age were fully immunized with recommended vaccines according to MCIR data.
“It is concerning that so many children are behind on their vaccinations and susceptible to preventable diseases,” said Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, chief medical executive and chief deputy for health at MDHHS. "Vaccines are essential. It is important for caregivers to contact their healthcare provider to get children caught up on needed vaccines.”
Many healthcare providers are implementing new procedures to ensure patients can safely come in for well visits and to get caught up on immunizations, including checking in from the car, limiting how many people can accompany a child and requiring face masks.
“It will also be vital for everyone ages six months and older to get their flu vaccine this fall,” said Khaldun. “The influenza vaccine will help keep Michiganders out of the hospital for flu-related illnesses, saving lives and protecting our hospital capacity during the COVID-19 pandemic.”
If insurance coverage has been disrupted or there is concern about being able to afford childhood vaccines, the Michigan Vaccines for Children program can help. It provides vaccines for children through age 18 years who are Medicaid-eligible, uninsured, underinsured, American Indian or Alaska Native.