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Drop in vaccinations puts kids at risk

Parents urged to get childhood shots updated
Dr. Mark Hamed

Dr. Mark Hamed

A Sandusky physician who heads a statewide group of family medical practitioners is urging parents to get their children and teenagers up to date on childhood vaccinations.

Dr. Mark Hamed, president of the Michigan Academy of Family Physicians (MAFP), stressed the urgency of getting children immunized before school starts in the fall to avoid the spread of vaccine-preventable diseases in the classroom.

On Monday, Hamed, medical director of the department of emergency and hospital medicine at McKenzie Health System in Sandusky, led a statewide media roundtable discussion on the drop in routine vaccinations. The Zoom event was hosted by MAFP and the Michigan Elementary & Middle School Principals Association.

“During the COVID-19 pandemic, Michigan saw an alarming drop in childhood vaccinations that are recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the American Academy of Family Physicians,” said Hamed, who also serves as medical director of eight county health departments including Sanilac County’s. “This has been attributed to families avoiding taking their children to the doctor for routine well child visits and physicals, but now it’s time to get kids up to date on these very important vaccines.”

The dip in vaccinations has left many children and teens unvaccinated against as many as 16 serious and highly contagious childhood diseases.

“Kids are exposed to thousands of illness-causing antigens every day,” said Hamed. “Without the protection of vaccines, these illnesses, such as measles, can easily spread. For example, one carrier of measles is likely to infect 12 to 18 others.

“It’s critically important that children get up to date on their vaccines before going back to in-person school to protect against preventable diseases that can lead to serious illness, lifelong disabilities or death.”

“When a large number of children and teens are behind on their vaccines,” said Hamed, “the risk of diseases spreading and outbreaks occurring significantly increases – what’s why we’re encouraging families to get their children vaccinated before resuming in-person learning.”

The family physicians and principals’ groups also urge parents of children 12 years and older to get their children vaccinated against COVID-19.