As both a physician and an infectious disease and immunology specialist, I hear from many concerned parents. A concern that continues to be a main topic, especially before school starts, is vaccinations. At the end of the day, all parents want the same thing: a healthy child. The difference is the information they are getting regarding vaccines and how they respond to it.
What’s in vaccines? Why do kids need so many shots at once? Is my child protected for life afterward? These are just some of the questions I often hear — and I encourage parents to ask them! But there’s one key message I share with parents to help them feel at ease: consensus exists. Vaccines are safe, they are effective and vaccines are the most important thing parents can do to protect their kids against disease.
The internet and social media have enabled parents to search for answers, but unfortunately there is no filter to just find facts. The spread of misinformation is one reason why Michigan has some of the lowest immunization rates in the country. More than half of Michigan parents with toddlers are choosing to delay vaccinations or skipping them altogether. Only 36 percent of Michigan teens ages 13-18 are up-to-date on their vaccinations.
Throughout my career, I have too often seen infected people who neglected to be vaccinated or vaccinated in a timely fashion as recommended by the expert authorities such as the CDC. These vaccine-preventable diseases have devastating impacts.
The public health of our communities depends on high immunization rates to protect us from serious diseases.
Carl B. Lauter, MD, MACP
professor, Oakland University
William Beaumont School of Medicine
and Wayne State University School of Medicine