Michigan Association of Health Plans

COVID vaccine hesitancy leads to fewer Michigan kids getting other shots

This story is from Bridge Michigan. Read more here

Opposition among some parents to the COVID vaccine may have blossomed into a broader reluctance to get Michigan children inoculated against a host of routine diseases.

Just 68.1 percent of Michigan’s nearly 164,000 toddlers were considered vaccinated in March, compared to 73.8 percent within the age group two years earlier when the pandemic first hit Michigan, according to the Michigan Care Improvement Registry, which tracks state vaccination rates.

That left roughly 52,000 toddlers more vulnerable to vaccine-preventable illnesses that include mumps, measles, chicken pox, polio and diphtheria, based on population estimates in the state’s latest vaccine report card.

Mary Zimmerman, a registered nurse who oversees immunizations for Spectrum Health, the Grand Rapids-based hospital system, is one of several public health experts who said pandemic misinformation has hardened the public’s distrust of vaccines.

Before COVID, most parents “accepted that ‘these are the vaccines that my children get (and) they’re required for school,’” Zimmerman said.

Some of those same parents now are “saying, ‘Wait a minute. Do I really need these vaccines?’ or ‘How are these vaccines made?’” Zimmerman said.

The pushback has prompted at least one one Michigan health department to stop using the V-word in its campaign to get children up-to-date before school begins in the fall.

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