LANSING, Mich. (WILX) - Local health workers are stressing the importance of getting your child up to date on their vaccinations.
Even though the state changed it's policy making it tougher to "opt-out" of vaccines, Michigan continues to have one of the highest waiver rates in the country. That's creating another problem since when not enough people are vaccinated, it can cause outbreaks in diseases that are preventable. Michigan has already seen an increase in cases of the measles and whooping cough in the past few years. Still Department of Health and Human Services says more than 12 percent of school-aged kids have not gotten all their vaccines.
Linda Vail who's a Health Officer at the Ingham County Health Department say Michigan's "opt-out" rate is most concerning for children who can not get vaccinated because of medical reasons, like cancer treatments. Vail says those kids depend on others to create what she describes as a "ring of protection."
"If we're all immunized around them than, we can't catch it and give it to them, and those are sometimes very fragile children," Vail explained.
"These diseases are preventable and they're vaccine preventable. I would argue over and over and over again, the risks of getting those diseases and the consequences of having those diseases, far outweigh any risk of having a vaccination."
The state's policy requires parents using a non-medical exemption, including religious and philosophical reasons, to make an appointment with their county health department to get an "opt-out" form. The parents will have to sit down with a Health Officer and learn about vaccines, before they can be given a waiver. That is required by the first day.
Since Michigan tightened it's vaccination "opt-out" policy in 2015, the State Department of Health says there's been a nearly 35 percent drop in waiver rates.