Dr. Charles Goodman vaccinates 1-year-old Cameron Fierro with the measles-mumps-rubella vaccine at his practice in Northridge, Calif., on Thursday, Jan. 29, 2015.

Michigan’s childhood vaccination rates fall 6.5% since 2019

The Michigan Academy of Family Physicians sounded the alarm Monday about falling vaccination rates for preventable childhood diseases such as measles, polio and whooping cough, since the start of the coronavirus pandemic. 

“We have seen a 6% drop in toddler vaccinations in Michigan over the past two years, which is alarming,” said Dr. Delicia Pruitt, medical director of the Saginaw County Health Department. “As it currently stands, 32% of Michigan toddlers are at risk for preventable disease because their immunizations are not up to date.

“For children of color, children living in poverty, and those who are uninsured and are covered by Medicaid, these rates are even lower. This makes the disparities in health outcomes among segments of our communities even greater.”

Pandemic interrupted regular doctor visits

The problem began, she said, with the pandemic.  

“People weren’t able to visit their primary care physicians for in-person appointments for things like immunizations,” said Pruitt, who also is a family physician in Saginaw and an associate professor at Central Michigan University’s College of Medicine.

“But now we can connect in person again and it is time and it’s overdue for us to do everything we can to protect our children and the most vulnerable in our communities against preventable disease by getting caught up on our immunizations.”

Overall coverage for the primary childhood vaccine series in Michigan, which includes vaccines that prevent measles, mumps, rubella, tetanus, diphtheria, pertussis, haemophilus influenzae, hepatitis, polio, chickenpox and pneumonia, fell to 68.5% in the first quarter of 2022. That’s about a 6.5% drop since July 2019, according to the state Department of Health and Human Services. 

A pediatrician holds a dose of the measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine.

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Among adolescents in Michigan, coverage of state-recommended vaccines has fallen to 72.9% over the same time period — about 4 percentage points, according to state data. 

While it might not seem like much of a dip, Dr. Glenn Dregansky, president of the Michigan Academy of Family Physicians, said every case is important. 

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