Separating facts from fiction on immunizations

With the next school year fast approaching, making sure children are protected against a number of diseases before they begin to mix with other students should be a priority.

Unfortunately, resistance remains to getting childhood vaccinations, fueled by information on the internet from a variety of sources that is not science-based but can be dressed up to look credible, said Dr. Terry Frankovich, pediatrician and medical director for four of the six Upper Peninsula health departments.

“It is so frustrating to see some parents worrying needlessly about vaccinating their children because they have received bad information,” Frankovich said. “For example, the scientific community has known for many years now that there is absolutely no link between the MMR vaccine and autism and yet, the rumor still lives online.”

The same can be said about the idea that vaccines are too challenging to an infant’s immune system or hundreds of other myths put forth online, she said. Unfortunately, if parents are scared into choosing to not vaccinate, it not only puts their own children at risk, but others in the community as well.

In recent years, the United States has seen outbreaks of vaccine-preventable diseases, such as measles, in communities where there were many unimmunized individuals. These outbreaks

resulted in serious health consequences and hospitalizations.

That is why it is important for parents to look at sites that offer information based on solid research, such as CDC.gov or immunizeup.org.

“When people get the real facts about immunization, they find vaccinating an easy choice to make,” Frankovich said.

Helping the U.P. community sort out “Immunization Facts and Fiction” is at the center of a new U.P.-wide information campaign. All six Upper Peninsula Health Departments are supporting this effort, which includes information sent directly to: all households with children, schools, local media, and social media.

Residents are encouraged to go to healthyupmi.org, immunizeup.org or any U.P. health department website to learn what they need to do to protect themselves and their families. Every U.P. health department can provide anyone, young and old, the immunizations they need.

As a pediatrician, Frankovich said she has personally seen children become ill and require hospitalization due to vaccine-preventable illnesses.

“We all have a responsibility,” she said, “to try and keep each other safe and healthy.”

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