MAFP Physician Joins First Lady in Urging Parents to Update Immunizations

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Dr. Pamela Rockwell (pictured at the podium), a University of Michigan faculty member and medical director from Ann Arbor, represented MAFP and Family Physicians when she spoke at a press conference Sept. 10. Alongside other physicians and nurses, Dr. Rockwell spoke to the specific complications of diseases, like pertussis and measles, after First Lady Susan Snyder introduced the topic.

"Kids learn best when they're safe and healthy," said Snyder. "Ensuring our Michigan kids get the vaccines they need is one of the easiest and best ways to help them learn and thrive and keep classrooms healthy."

The event included a coalition of Michigan physicians and nurses from the Michigan State Medical Society, Michigan Osteopathic Association, Michigan Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics, Michigan Association of School Nurses, Michigan Council for Maternal and Child Health, School Commuity Health Alliance of Michigan, and the Michigan Association of Health Plans.

"There is no specific treatment or antiviral for measles, and it is one of the most contagious diseases in existence," said Dr. Rockwell. "Measles was considered eradicated in 2000, which means there were no reported cases in the U.S. for 12 full months. Between January 1 and August 29, there were 592 reported cases, and that number is probably low," she said.Dr. Rockwell interviewed about the importance of immunizations.

Possible complications from diseases, like measles and pertussis, include encephalitis (inflammation of the brain), pneumonia (water in the lungs), convulsions (seizures), and death.

Dr. Rockwell recently completed a vaccine fellowship with the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP), and serves on the working group that reports to the Center for Disease Control (CDC) on immunization practices.

According to a CDC report, Michigan has the 4th highest non-medical exemption rate in the nation, and more than 5 percent of Michigan parents are simply choosing not to immunize their children.

"It pains me when I have families come into my practice who choose not to vaccinate their children," she said.

For more information about the effort to promote vaccination, see the following news stories: