CEO Report: Ensuring Community Immunity
Posted on August 06, 2018
“An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” - Benjamin Franklin
As we enter August and direct our focus to the upcoming program year, I want to draw attention to a very important campaign that affects every community within our state.
August is National Immunization Awareness Month. Community wellness is a key objective for all health leaders, and hospitals play a key role in providing the leadership and expertise to improve the health of our neighbors. In fulfillment of this role, the MHA joined the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS), the Franny Strong Foundation and 16 other state and national groups in launching the I Vaccinate campaign last year to protect Michigan children, families and communities from vaccine-preventable diseases.
On numerous occasions, I have heard Veronica McNally tell her heartbreaking story about her daughter Francesca Marie, who died of pertussis (whooping cough) at the age of three months. By founding the Franny Strong Foundation, Veronica has become a brave advocate in the campaign to ensure that other mothers and families don’t endure this same sort of preventable tragedy. As a father of two school-aged children, I am proud to say that my wife and I have faithfully adhered to all immunization protocols recommended by medical experts. With the new school year on the horizon, I can tell you this issue is again top of mind; I certainly hope that other parents are doing likewise.
The fact is, vaccinating our children is one of the safest and most effective things we can do to protect ourselves, our children and our loved ones. Supported by countless medical studies from renowned physicians and researchers, the evidence shows that vaccines prevent disease and protect our communities. By supporting I Vaccinate, hospitals are striving to protect those more susceptible to diseases, including infants, pregnant women, the elderly and those with weakened immune systems who cannot be vaccinated for medical reasons.
In Michigan, only 56 percent of our toddlers are up-to-date on all their recommended vaccinations. Without the I Vaccinate campaign, we run the risk of losing the community immunity to potentially deadly diseases like measles or pertussis, which can occur when less than 90-95 percent of a community is protected. Once immunity is achieved, it is nearly impossible for a vaccine-preventable disease to spread.
Vaccines, of course, are not just for children. It is also essential that staff at our member hospitals protect themselves, their patients and their families by staying up-to-date on vaccinations. Together with MDHHS Chief Medical Executive Eden V. Wells, MD, we have again co-signed a letter imploring our members to implement new polices or enforce existing policies related to healthcare personnel vaccination.
During this month, I encourage all members to help in the awareness campaign to address misinformation and to increase our vaccination rates. Together Michigan hospitals can lead health and quality improvement across the state. As always, I welcome your thoughts.
To learn more about the I Vaccinate campaign, please visit https://ivaccinate.org/.
P.S. – Michigan Primary Election is Tuesday, Aug. 7.
Exercising your right to vote is critically important to the future of healthcare policy in the state and nation. The MHA has a wealth of information about the primary on our website, and we’ll be providing additional resources as Election Day approaches.
Posted in: MHA Rounds