Mich. vaccination waivers down 39% under new policy – WZZM13.com
GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WZZM) — New numbers out Thursday show Michigan is improving when it comes to vaccination rates.
Last January, a new policy from the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services started requiring parents to get vaccination waivers from a health care worker or the county health department instead of their child’s school.
This requirement included one-on-one counseling about vaccinations.
Jack Langbow looks like a typical, healthy 13-year-old — but he’s not.
“When your child is always that vulnerable child, it does make you worry,” said his mother, Carrie Langbow. She said she constantly worries because her son has a compromised immune system. “School has always been a concern for us, because there are so many illnesses he can come across on a daily basis.”
Illnesses that could threaten Jack’s life if he were exposed to them, Carrie said. “We’re always vigilant, because it could be any time that you come across that really bad infection.”
Unvaccinated children pose the biggest threat to Jack and children like him.
Fortunately, Michigan’s vaccination rates are on the rise because of a policy issued by the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services requiring parents to visit a health care provider or a local health department before receiving a non-medical vaccination waiver.
Kent County Health Department director Adam London is encouraged by the latest numbers, he said. “Overall, Michigan’s waiver rate has been reduced by 39%.”
In Kent County, vaccination waivers are down 36%, which means only 1.7% of children in Kent County are unvaccinated.
Mary Wisinski with the Kent County Health Department admits this hasn’t been an easy process for parents. “We have had a lot of angry parents. They have to come to the health department now. But I can tell you by listening to my nurses many of them say, ‘Wow, this was nice.'”
Under the new policy, parents still have the right not to vaccinate. Some parents are choosing that, but most are opting to vaccinate.
That is good news for Jack’s mom Carrie. “These figures that are out today just send a sense of reassurance and security and let us allow him some of the daily childhood adventures that he should have,” she said.
While this new vaccination waiver policy is making progress in getting more children vaccinated, there are those who aren’t in agreement with it.
There are currently two bills, House Bill 5126 and House Bill 5127, which would prevent the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services from requiring parents to have counseling before signing a non-medical vaccination waiver.