EAST LANSING, Mich. — Michigan health officials urge parents to get their children and teens caught up on routine immunizations before they head back to school this fall.
It includes vaccines for diseases like measles, mumps, pertussis, chickenpox and more, according to a news release.
Because many parents postponed well-child visits during the pandemic, childhood vaccination rates have fallen below 70% in 46 of the state's 83 counties.
In seven Michigan counties and in Detroit, the rate has dropped below 60%.
Watch Monday's press conference here:
Vaccination coverage in teens has also fallen since the start of the pandemic, from 77% in January 2020 to 73.7% in June 2021.
Public health experts generally say a 70% vaccination rate is the minimum protection level they'd like to see.
According to MDHHS, the 10 areas with the lowest vaccination rates for children ages 19 to 36 months are:
- Oscoda County: 45%
- Detroit: 48.4%
- Gladwin County: 52%
- Keweenaw County: 55.6%
- Iron County: 57.6%
- Cass County: 58.7%
- Lake County: 59.3%
- Clare County: 59.6%
- Sanilac County: 60.8%
- Houghton County: 61.3%
"As students return to in-person classes and as we're still dealing with rising COVID-19 cases due to the delta variant, it's critical that we avoid outbreaks of other serious, preventable diseases," said Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, chief deputy director for health and chief medical executive for the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services. "It's more important than ever for families to put vaccinations at the top of their back-to-school lists."
MDHHS says following the CDC's recommended schedule protects children and teens from 16 vaccine-preventable diseases by age 18.
Though the COVID-19 vaccine is not currently part of the required childhood or adolescent schedule, 32.9% of Michigan's 12- to 15-year-olds and 42.6% of 16- to 19-year-olds have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.
"Vaccines have always been one of the best tools in our public health toolbox for mitigating risk and keeping our communities healthy, and the pandemic and subsequent COVID-19 vaccine have proven that even more so," Ingham County Health Officer Linda Vail said.
Health officials also urge all Michiganders to get the flu vaccine when available through their local health department, family doctor or retail pharmacy.