MDCH Reminds Parents about the Importance of Immunizations

Contact: James McCurtis Jr. (517) 241-2112
Agency: Community Health

August 17, 2009

LANSING - The Michigan Department of Community Health (MDCH) is recognizing August as Immunization Awareness Month. As the new school year approaches, physician offices and local health departments are busy working to ensure that children attending schools and child care programs have received all of their immunization shots. MDCH encourages parents to make sure their children are up-to-date on their immunizations.

"Back-to-school physicals and checkups are a great opportunity for health professionals to remind parents and guardians about how important it is for children to be fully vaccinated," said Dr. Greg Holzman, chief medical executive for MDCH. "Childhood immunizations are one of the best ways for parents and guardians to protect their children against vaccine-preventable diseases."

Children entering school must have a completed series of DTaP (diphtheria, tetanus, and pertussis), polio, Hepatitis B, Measles, Mumps, Rubella, and Varicella, (Chickenpox). It is important to know that these diseases still occur in Michigan, across the country and are common in many other countries. It is therefore more important than ever to receive all recommended vaccines as many diseases are only a plane ride away from countries where these diseases are much more common.

Each year, hundreds of children in Michigan become ill from diseases that could have been prevented. Infants are especially vulnerable to diseases that could be passed from school-aged brothers and sisters. Infants who are too young to be fully vaccinated are not protected from these preventable diseases. That is why it is so important to protect the entire family through immunizations. In 2009 there have been more cases of pertussis than in recent years in Michigan and across the country. These outbreaks can be prevented by assuring that infants and adolescents are protected by receiving their pertussis vaccine.

As you take your children in for their checkups or sports physicals, it's a good opportunity to ask their health care provider to check on their immunization status, including when to return for the flu vaccine. To be protected this flu season, children will need to be vaccinated against both the seasonal flu and the 2009 H1N1 flu because one vaccine will not provide protection against both flu viruses. For more information about immunizations, visit www.michigan.gov/immunize.