School-age vaccine waivers drop 39 percent in Michigan

Recent preliminary data suggests that there has been a 39 percent decline in school-age vaccine waivers in the state, which experts attribute to a non-medical vaccination waiver rule change from January 2015.

Two years ago, Michigan had the sixth-highest vaccination waiver rate within the U.S. Over 5 percent of kindergarten students did not receive vaccinations and still had their waivers.

To change this, state officials mandated parents use a non-medical waiver if their child did not have vaccinations. The parents also needed to speak with local health department staff before they could have the waiver – earlier, the waiver could be found at the school.

“By ensuring that parents have the opportunity to address and discuss concerns with their local health department, we’re providing parents with knowledge they can use when making a decision about vaccinating their child,” Nick Lyon, director of the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS), said. “Michigan’s local health departments have been instrumental in working with and educating parents who have had concerns about vaccines and I applaud them for their understanding, assistance and dedication.”

As of today, there are approximately 8,000 fewer vaccination waivers for Michigan’s children.

“This improvement in our vaccination coverage rates means that more kids are protected from outbreaks and serious vaccine-preventable diseases,” Dr. Eden Wells, chief medical executive for the MDHHS, said. “Unfortunately we have not eradicated some very serious diseases that affect children and adults alike. We continue to see outbreaks of pertussis, (whooping cough) and chickenpox in areas of Michigan as well as nationwide.”