Doctors, health officials urge Michigan parents to put immunizations on their kids’ back-to-school checklist.

As the start of a new school year approaches, Michigan health officials are urging families to make sure they are up to date on all immunizations, to ensure their loved ones are protected.

“Vaccines protect our children from serious and preventable diseases,” said Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, chief deputy director for health and chief medical executive for the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services. “Now is the time to visit your local health department or family doctor for immunizations, to help your kids start the school year on the right foot.”

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer recently designated August as Immunization Awareness Month in Michigan.

“As Michigan continues to face outbreaks of measles and other vaccine-preventable diseases, it’s more important than ever that people make sure they are up to date on immunizations,” Whitmer said. “I encourage people of all ages to talk with their health care providers about the vaccines necessary to protect their health and the health of their families.”

Michigan and 29 other states continue to battle the country’s worst measles outbreak in decades, with more than 1,172 individual cases of measles confirmed nationwide. Michigan has seen 46 cases of measles since the outbreak began in March. The state continues to see hundreds of cases of whooping cough, mumps and chickenpox each year, as well as other vaccine-preventable diseases.

When less than 90 percent of children are vaccinated in a particular community, pockets of low vaccination create an environment where diseases can take hold and spread. Areas with more vaccination waivers mean fewer children in the community are vaccinated and the community may not be protected by community immunity.

Waivers can be problematic if clustered at the building level, when you have higher numbers of unvaccinated kids in one area. Nearly 400 public and private K-12 schools and 295 daycare programs in Michigan had 10 percent or more of their students submit a vaccine waiver form in lieu of immunization records in 2017, state records show.

The website has been visited more than 240,000 times, averaging around 1,500 visits per week. The website includes recommended vaccination schedules, Michigan-specific resources and a frequently-asked-questions section, where parents can find answers to common questions based on credible medical research and sources to learn more.

The I Vaccinate campaign is a joint public-private effort of the MDHHS and the Franny Strong Foundation. The campaign highlights that there is medical consensus on vaccines — they are safe and effective at preventing disease and protect entire communities from outbreaks. The campaign aims to create a positive conversation surrounding vaccines and the reasons why most parents do fully vaccinate their children.