MDCH and Physician Organizations Remind Parents about New Immunization Rules
James McCurtis Jr. (517) 241-2112Agency:
August 16, 2010
LANSING - The Michigan Department of Community Health (MDCH), the Michigan State Medical Society (MSMS) and the Michigan Osteopathic Association (MOA) are recognizing August as Immunization Awareness Month. For this upcoming school year, new immunization rules are in effect for all children entering kindergarten, 6th grade and students changing school districts. As part of the new rules, these students are required to receive two doses of varicella vaccine. Also, all children 11 to 18 years of age who are changing school districts or who are enrolled in the 6th grade are required to receive one dose of meningococcal vaccine and one dose of tetanus/diphtheria/acellular pertussis (Tdap) vaccine.
"These rules changes are designed to help prevent school-aged children from contracting illnesses such as meningitis and pertussis," said Dr. Greg Holzman, chief medical executive for MDCH. "In the last few years, Michigan has seen a significant increase in pertussis and we hope these rules will help lower the number of cases."
In the years 2003-2007 the average annual number of pertussis cases reported was about 340. In 2008, 315 cases were reported. That number has jumped to 902 cases in 2009, and so far this year, about 560 cases.
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.
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. MSMS, MOA and MDCH encourage 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," Holzman said. "Childhood immunizations are one of the best ways for parents and guardians to protect their children against vaccine-preventable diseases."
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. For more information about immunizations, visit www.michigan.gov/immunize.