GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — August is National Immunization Awareness month, just in time for the back-to-school hustle and bustle.
Prepping for school can be stressful, from getting school supplies and gearing up for classes. But according to an immunization specialist at the Kent County Health Department, one thing parents should not overlook is getting their child's vaccinations up to date.
“It’s time to make sure your kids are up to date for their vaccines prior to them starting school," said Mary Wisinski, immunization specialist at the Kent County Health Department. "That includes kids in preschool, daycare, kindergarten up through 12th grade.”
Especially with the recent uptick in measles cases, checking in with your child's doctor and making sure they are up to date on their immunizations is crucial.
"There are a few outbreaks across the United States and even here in Michigan. We’ve had some cases of measles, measles seems to be ramping up," said Wisinki. “We are very fortunate that we live in an area where we don’t see vaccine preventable diseases. Most doctors now have never seen a case of polio we’ve irradiated smallpox. However, polio, measles we are seeing it come back here because of vaccine hesitancy.”
Wisinski says all children should continue to stay up to date, even people headed off to college and young adults.
“In Michigan we do not have any vaccine requirements for college, however, there are vaccinations recommended for college kids especially," said Wisinski. "I’d like to mention the meningitis vaccines. Only about 50 percent of our kids, actually our teens in Kent County get that second meningitis shot that has four strains in it. It’s recommended at age sixteen to eighteen for a second dose.”
And if you are someone who is worried about vaccinating your child, well Wisinski has a message for you.
“Vaccinations are one of the greatest achievements of the 20th century that we’ve had for decreasing our vaccine preventable diseases," said Wisinski. “The World Health Organization or the W.H.O has also declared vaccine hesitancy one of the top ten public health problems for 2019.”
If your concern about vaccine is the cost, vaccinating your child could cost you close to nothing by going through the health department.
“We have free vaccines for kids from birth to age 18 who are on Medicaid, who have no insurance or who has insurance that does not cover vaccines. There is also about 90 doctors’ offices in Kent County that carry those vaccines. So, there is lots of opportunities to get vaccines that are not costly," said Wisinski.