CS Mott graphicIs it partly our responsibility, as parents, to ensure our kids are in an immunized, safe environment? Maybe so.

Unsurprisingly, most parents want to make sure their children attend a school or daycare with children up-to-date on immunizations. This week is National Influenza Vaccination Week and provides a hearty reminder. Established by the CDC in 2005, it began as a way to raise vaccination rates during the month of December. Vaccinations historically tend to drop at the end of November (we get busy, we don’t go to the doctor), but this is only the beginning of flu season and it’s not too late to get yourself and your family protected. Influenza peaks in February and March so December is still a great time to get immunized for anything, including flu.

Although many daycare facilities are mandated to check immunization status at entry, not all keep up on the records as children age. New data finds many preschoolers are late to get their shot leaving about 1/4 of them in daycare/preschool not fully protected at any given time.

In a scenario where 1 in 4 children in their daycare center were not up-to-date with vaccinations, 74% of parents would consider removing their own children from that childcare center; another 11% would consider removal of their children only if an outbreak occurred.  ~National Poll on Children’s Health

Enter parent-to-parent healthcare…

We’ve got the capacity to shape the safety of our child’s environment by asking good questions and exchanging expertise with our peers. We hear so much from the “vocal minority” of vaccine-hesitant parents, it’s becoming essential for vaccine-supportive parents to make just as much noise. At school you’ve got a better in than your pediatrician does for making change about vaccine communication. If you care about this you’ll see you’re not alone. A recent report from the University of Michigan highlights the concern parents have about the rate of vaccination uptake in their child’s daycare. Parents must know it’s okay to inquire about their school tracking  vaccine status. In an ideal world, I would imagine schools transparently reporting ongoing vaccine status at school (including flu vaccine). If you’re hesitant to speak up, the University of Michigan report should give you fuel to speak up:

  • 3/4 parents think daycare providers should check vaccination records every year.
  • 2/3 moms and dads think they should be informed of the number of children who are not up-to-date on vaccinations in the school setting.
  • 41% think children should be excluded from daycare until they are up-to-date on their vaccinations.

In my mind this data confirms the import most of us feel when it comes to having our children in a vaccine-protected environment. We’re advised to “cocoon” our newborns, surround them with people who are fully immunized, to protect them. Why wouldn’t we do the same for our older children?

Resources for parents from the CDC. Group Health Foundations Childhood Immunization Initiative. How To “Cocoon” your newborn.