Five Reasons to Add Childhood Vaccinations to Your Back-to-School Checklist


August 14, 2023
For Immediate Release

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Alison Clark, Communications Specialist, 616-494-5597,

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Five Reasons to Add Childhood Vaccinations
to Your Back-to-School Checklist

Catch up on routine vaccinations for a healthy school year

(HOLLAND, MI.) – The back-to-school season is here and the Ottawa County Department of Public Health (OCDPH) is recommending parents get their children caught up on routine childhood vaccinations before the start of school.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), vaccine coverage among certain groups in the United States has declined since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic and has not fully recovered. Kindergarten vaccination coverage is at the lowest level in a decade. Many families put off routine childhood and adolescent vaccinations during the pandemic and are still behind.

August is National Immunization Awareness Month, an annual observance to highlight the importance of routine vaccination for everyone. Below are five reasons parents should catch their children up on routine childhood and adolescent vaccination.

  1. Vaccines save lives. Some diseases, which historically caused injury or death, have been eliminated, or have become rare, due to vaccines. Vaccines may not prevent your child from becoming sick, but they can keep your child from becoming severely ill or worse.

  2. Vaccines protect against preventable diseases. Viruses and bacteria that cause diseases like the chickenpox, whooping cough, or the flu are still common in the United States. In addition, global travel makes it easier for diseases that are not common here to spread. Vaccination can prevent your child from becoming ill at all, or from becoming seriously ill.

  3. Vaccines are part of a healthy lifestyle. Just like eating healthy foods, getting enough exercise, and routinely seeing the doctor, vaccines are an important prevention tool to keep your child healthy as they start the school year.

  4. Vaccines are safe. The United States has a robust system to be sure vaccines are monitored and are safe. Currently, the US has the safest vaccine supply in its history. Although your child may experience short-term side effects from a vaccine, millions of children safely receive vaccinations each year, with no long-term consequences.

  5. Vaccines may be free. Free vaccines are available to those who need help through the Vaccines For Children (VFC) program. Cost does not need to be a barrier to your child being vaccinated. OCDPH participates in the VFC program and can provide free vaccines to children who qualify.

“Getting vaccinated is still the safest and most effective way to avoid severe sickness and death from vaccine preventable diseases,” said Dr. Gwendolyn Unzicker, Medical Director, OCDPH. “No matter the reason for getting behind schedule, now is a great time to get caught up to keep children, families, and our community healthy this school year!”

Parents who are unsure about which vaccines their child may need should call their child’s primary care physician or OCDPH. Department of Public Health staff are available to answer questions, provide additional information, or make vaccination appointments at 616-396-5266. More information is also available at

Ottawa County Department of Public Health The Ottawa County Department of Public Health works with our community to help assure conditions that promote and protect health. OCDPH’s vision is healthy people. For more information, visit Follow OCDPH on Facebook @miOttawaHealth, Instagram @miOCDPH or Twitter @miOCDPH.



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