It’s Round Up Time! Let’s Circle our Wagons and Get Kids Up to Date on Vaccines

By Sarah de Ruiter, BSN, RN, MA, Immunization Nurse Educator, Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, Division of Immunization

Spring in Michigan is just around the corner, and schools are getting ready for Kindergarten Roundup. This year, instead of corralling incoming students at an in-person kindergarten readiness rodeo, many schools are assembling the necessary registration forms into electronic packets to go out to families. When kids come into your practice for any reason, especially those between 4 and 6 years of age, don’t forget to talk about vaccines and assess immunization status at every visit. Your kindergarten eligible patients are not only vulnerable to infectious disease but are efficient carriers as well.

Never has it been more important to ensure kids are up to date on routine vaccinations. The COVID-19 pandemic triggered a significant decline in vaccination rates in kids as parents and their children didn’t just stay home—they stayed away from doctors’ offices. To avoid illness and spread in close group settings such as classrooms, buses, and cafeterias, kids need to be up to date on vaccines.

It is important to assess immunization records at every visit to see which vaccines are needed to protect them and others from communicable disease. For the best protection, health care providers should vaccinate their pediatric patients from vaccine-preventable diseases according to the recommended child and adolescent immunization schedule from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP).

Every year in the United States, people get diseases that vaccines can prevent. Infants and children need to get vaccinated to prevent diseases like hepatitis, measles, varicella, and pertussis. Strategies to make sure more children get vaccinated — like requiring vaccination for children who are in school — are key to reducing rates of infectious diseases.

Michigan requires all incoming kindergarteners and 4-6-year-old transfer students to have appropriate documentation of vaccines protecting against diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis, polio, measles, mumps, rubella, hepatitis B, and varicella. For some of these diseases, appropriate documentation of immunity from the disease is acceptable in lieu of vaccination. By vaccinating children according to the ACIP schedule, your patients will receive all the vaccines required for school and daycare entry.

To help understand school and daycare vaccine requirements, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) has created easy-to-read handouts that target health care providers, schools and daycares, and parents. These documents are available on the MDHHS Immunization Information for Families and Providers website. As a reminder, patients requesting a non-medical waiver for school should be referred to their Local Health Department (LHD). Health care providers should only provide parents with a medical immunization waiver (i.e., true medical contraindication to vaccine(s)) when needed.

Remember to check the Michigan Care Improvement Registry (MCIR) for every patient at every well and sick child visit to determine which vaccines are needed to best protect them. All vaccines administered to persons less than 20 years of age, including flu vaccine, are required to be entered into MCIR within 72 hours of vaccine administration. By protecting your patients with all ACIP-recommended vaccines, you are helping young Michiganders stay healthy and ready to learn.