'I Vaccinate' campaign introduced in Michigan to portect children from preventable diseases

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LANSING -- State and national public health experts, physicians, hospitals, and a private foundation today launched the “I Vaccinate” campaign to help parents protect their children from serious vaccine-preventable diseases that still pose a risk in Michigan communities.

I Vaccinate, designed with input from Michigan mothers, provides the facts parents need to make informed decisions about vaccinations. Most parents today have never seen first-hand the devastating consequences that vaccine-preventable diseases have on a child, a family or community. Vaccination is one of the best ways parents can protect infants, children, and teens from 16 potentially harmful diseases. Vaccine-preventable diseases can be very serious, may require hospitalization, or even be deadly — especially in infants and young children.

Michigan’s childhood immunization rate is among the nation’s worst — ranking 43rd lowest in the United States for children ages 19 to 35 months, according to the 2015 National Immunization Survey. Data from the Michigan Care Improvement Registry show that only 54 percent of children ages 19 to 35 months and 29 percent of teens 13 to 18 years old are up-to-date on all recommended immunizations.

I Vaccinate was announced today at a Lansing news conference attended by the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS), the Franny Strong Foundation, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Michigan hospitals, the states’ top physician organizations, and many other groups that advocate for public and children’s health. The campaign was conceived by the Franny Strong Foundation and is funded primarily by MDHHS and the foundation. The Michigan Association of Broadcasters has generously adopted I Vaccinate as one of its public service campaigns.

“Michigan’s low immunization rates threaten the health of all residents. We’re seeing the unfortunate return of vaccine-preventable diseases in Michigan because some parents are choosing not to vaccinate based on misinformation,” said Dr. Eden Wells, MD, chief medical executive with the MDHHS. “We know parents have questions and they want to do what’s best to protect their children. The I Vaccinate campaign helps parents make an informed decision to protect their children and others around them through vaccination.”

The Franny Strong Foundation is dedicated to boosting childhood immunization rates by giving parents access to science-based facts that demonstrate vaccines are safe and effective. The foundation was founded by Veronica and Sean McNally of Oakland County in memory of the couple’s daughter, Francesca, who died of whooping cough at age 3 months in 2012.

“Parents want to make the best choices to protect their children,” Veronica McNally said. “When it comes to vaccines, Michigan moms told us they want the facts and the science, and they want to be able to find that information in two places: on the internet and in their doctor’s office. I Vaccinate gives Michigan parents easy online access to the facts about vaccine safety and effectiveness and uses other communications strategies to reach parents as they decide how to best protect their kids.”

The CDC estimates that, in the United States, vaccinations will prevent more than 21 million hospitalizations and 732,000 deaths among children born in the last 20 years, saving nearly $1.4 trillion in total societal costs.

“Rates of vaccine-preventable diseases like measles are at record low levels, thanks to high vaccination rates,” said Dr. Melinda Wharton, MD, director of the Immunization Services Division at the CDC. “But vaccine-preventable diseases can quickly spread when they reach groups of susceptible people.  This highlights the need to achieve and maintain high vaccination coverage in all communities. Following the CDC’s recommended immunization schedule is the best way to protect children against serious diseases. We commend Michigan’s efforts to better educate parents about the importance of timely immunizations.”

Through easy access to evidence-based vaccine information, the I Vaccinate campaign strives to improve Michigan’s pediatric immunization rate to reach the Healthy People 2020 goal of 80-percent coverage (this goal includes coverage for 4 doses of Diphtheria, Tetanus, and Pertussis; 3 doses of Polio; 1 dose of Measles, Mumps, and Rubella; 3 doses of Haemophilus influenzae type b; 3 doses of Hepatitis B; 1 dose of Varicella (Chickenpox); and 4 doses of Pneumococcal Conjugate Vaccine among 19-35 month olds). Currently, the state is at 74.9 percent for this vaccine series.

About the I Vaccinate campaign:

  • TV, radio, print, outdoor, digital advertising
  • The iVaccinate.org website that presents Michigan-specific information about vaccines, and where parents can read (in plain language) the medical science and facts that prove conclusively vaccines are safe and effective for the vast majority of people.
  • Social media channels (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, YouTube)
  • Tools for health care providers (these are being developed)
  • Earned media activities (news conference, media updates, interviews with reporters, op/eds, more)
  • Supported by MDHHS; the Franny Strong Foundation; Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; Michigan Health & Hospital Association; Michigan Association of Broadcasters; and many more public health organizations.

Though the 'I Vaccinate' campaign is directed toward youth, it's important to keep up with vaccinations throughout all stages of life.

Below is an interview Local 3 conducted with Kathleen Mell, RN BSN, a MDHHS Immunization Field Representative on the various vaccinations required for all ages, as well as why it's so important to get vaccinated: 

New immunizations that the health department recommends for adults?
-"The adult immunizations that are recommended by the health department and the CDC for adults are some of the new ones that came out are the Prevnar, the PCB 13, and the pneumococcal vaccine. They're are high risk groups that need to get it. People with lymphoma or cancer, but then they're recommending that everyone 65 and older get one dose of this vaccine, if they haven't already had one for another reason. The other vaccine that is very important is the  pneumococcal polysaccharide vaccine.They like people to get if they have turned 65 and they haven't had a dose, they should have that as well. People with special health conditions; diabetes, asthma, folks who smoke, should have that vaccine as well. Other ones that we want people to think about too is the Tdap, the tetanus diphtheria and acellular pertussis, to help us control pertussis. Every adult should have at least one dose of the Tdap, so that's very important that they get that. We're also encouraging shingles for people that are 60 years or older to reduce the risk of shingles, the Zoster vaccine."

Why is it important for people to get these vaccines?
-"Well, vaccines are very important. They're the greatest public health achievement in the 20th century. We've seen a dramatic reduction in vaccine preventable diseases. We talked about polio, the polio vaccine came out in 1955. They were having a thousand cases per year. By 1962, they were down to 100. Now, there are no cases of wild polio, which is a beautiful advance. It's incredible that we've seen such success with that. So, vaccines are important to reduce the risk of vaccine preventable diseases. It not only does it protect the persons who are getting the vaccine, but it protects those who may not be able to get immunized because they have health conditions that don't allow them to. So, it reduces vaccine preventable diseases, and it protects the community at large."

Vaccines for different age groups?
-"Infants will need to be fully immunized against vaccine preventable diseases. There's 14 and I will see if I can try to name them all but there is 14 that they need to get before they're two. So, pertussis, polio, hepatitis B, pneumonia, haemophilus B influenza, measles, varicalla, you know, those are some of the diseases that are protected. Usually they start at birth with the Hepatitis B and at two, four and six months if they're 12 months, 12 to 18 months, and then four to six years of age, those are kind of the childhood immunizations. The goal is that people are vaccinated on time. Vaccines are the most effective if they are given per the schedule. That's where they get the most benefit. So, birth to two, four, six to 18 months. four to six years, and then we get up to the adolescent age 12, where they'll get some boosters. They'll get the booster for the Tdap, they'll get the first meningitis shot, and the most importantly the HPV shot too, in addition to that will reduce cancer. After that then, there is the adults that can get their boosters based on their shot series. So, you can kind of see where the... There is another shot that's out, they're talking about is the, you know we have the meningitis, which is in the routine schedule, which is 11 to 12 year-olds and then they get a booster shot at 16. There's also the meningococcal B vaccine, that has been made available to folks too. There's 10 years and up for outbreaks, but then it's for people without high risk conditions, 16 to 23 that should think about getting that shot and getting more information about that."

Elderly and vaccines?
-"Well the elderly, it's so important that I think the one shot that we really want to encourage people to get is the flu shot. I mean right now we have a lot of flu. Michigan, you know our rate of flu vaccination for adults over 18 in under 30 percent. So, we don't have a good uptake of the vaccine and it can dramatically reduce the complications from flu. Across the, right now across the United States, there has been over 40 pediatric deaths. I think there is only two in Michigan, but right now, that vaccine, that can prevent that, prevent complications."

Additional comment?
-"With the HPV shot, if getting at a 11 to 12 year-old, can traumatically reduce their risk of cancer. You know, the longer that they wait to get the shot out of the schedule, you know you don't get the maximum benefit. So, again repeating the importance of getting vaccines based on following the immunization schedule. There's a great app you can get on your phone from the CDC that talks about the schedules for those with special health conditions, for the infants, adults and adolescents. So if people are wondering they can call their local health department to talk about the schedule or you can go to this CDC.gov or Michigan.gov immunize and there is wonderful resources there to talk about the schedule and what vaccines are required."        

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