MAFP Supports Immunization Policies that Protect Public Health
Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) and Oakland County Health Division have confirmed a travel-related case of measles with potential exposure at several locations in Oak Park and Southfield from March 6 through March 13. Additional sites of potential exposure may be identified as more information becomes available.
According to the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention, as of March 7, at least 228 individual cases have been confirmed in 12 states already this year, with six outbreaks (three or more linked cases) in four of those states and declaration of a state of emergency in Washington. Not surprisingly, the majority of people who got measles were unvaccinated. MAFP's partner, Atlantic Health Partners, offers our members the most favorable pricing for the MMR (measles, mumps, rubella) vaccine and can assist your practice in strengthening your immunization efforts for all required and recommended vaccines. For more information, contact Atlantic Health Partners at 800.741.2044 or email@example.com.
Last year, the U.S. experienced 349 confirmed cases and 17 outbreaks compared to just 118 cases in 2017.
The resurgence of this highly contagious yet preventable disease, eradicated in the U.S. 20 years ago, is attributed in large part to increasing resistance from parents to vaccinate their children based on misinformation that is spreading like wildfire on social media.
Vaccine Hesitancy Threatens Public Health
In a March 13 letter to the CEOs of Amazon, Facebook, Google, Pinterest, Twitter, and YouTube, American Medical Association CEO and Executive Vice President James L. Madara, MD wrote: “With public health on the line with social media serving as a leading source of information for the American people, we urge you to do your part to ensure that users have access to scientifically valid information on vaccinations, so they can make informed decisions about their families’ health.”
On the flip side, social media posts highlighting the preventive benefits of immunizations have sparked some children to question their parents’ anti-vaccine beliefs. In fact, some minors have sought vaccines without parental consent. What are you to do in such a situation?
“Laws vary from state to state, so it’s important to know the law in your own state,” wrote Julie Graves, MD, MPH, PhD (Washington), in an AAFP guest editorial. Dr. Graves' editorial addresses other sticky issues Family Physicians may face, such as when one parent requests immunizations for their child despite objections from the other parent.
The World Health Organization has identified vaccine hesitancy as one of the top 10 public health threats in 2019, and Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Scott Gottleib recently said the federal government might have to step in if states don’t require more schoolchildren to get vaccinated.
MAFP Supports Policies that Protect Public Health
All 50 states and the District of Columbia have some form of an exemption law, and AAFP reports that around 130 vaccine-related bills have been introduced in more than 30 states that would further loosen the exemptions.
Michigan allows parents to request a nonmedical waiver that exempts their children from vaccines required to attend school, preschool, or a licensed childcare program. For a waiver to be granted, parents must attend an educational session to learn about vaccine-preventable diseases and vaccinations.
Our state has one of the highest immunization waiver rates in the country, with some Michigan counties reporting as many as 1 in 10 school-aged children lack the vaccinations required for school. This leaves other children, especially those who cannot get immunized due to medical reasons, and communities susceptible to measles, chickenpox, whooping cough, and other highly contagious yet vaccine-preventable diseases.
Among MAFP’s advocacy priorities is maintaining state requirements for education as a condition of obtaining a nonmedical immunization waiver. The Academy also opposes legislative efforts that undermine existing state authority to regulate vaccinations and protect public health. MAFP is proud to be a member of the Parent Information Network, a coalition of Michigan’s leading healthcare organizations working together to better educate parents and lawmakers about the vital importance of childhood immunizations. MAFP also supports I Vaccinate, a campaign launched in 2017 by MDHHS and the Fanny Strong Foundation to provide science- and research-based information and tools to help parents protect their kids.