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Health director calls for reluctant parents to get vaccine counseling


Michigan’s top health official says parents who want to opt out of vaccinating their children should first have to be counseled about the risks.

Michigan has one of the highest rates of parents who opt out of vaccinating their childen for preventable diseases such as mumps and measles.

Michigan Department of Community Health Director Jim Haveman says too many people are picking up “misinformation” on vaccines from friends, the internet, and celebrities, “and so they just say, ‘we’re not going to do it’ without thinking about the options and alternatives and dangers.”

Haveman says that means more kids spreading dangerous, preventable childhood diseases. Haveman says more parents would vaccinate if they’re presented with the facts.

“They still make the decision they want to make. People have a right to do that. But, before they opt out, really listen to the science so you have the best information rather than something you read on the internet, saw on some reality show, or heard some celebrity say.”

Department officials say there are discussions about enacting such a regulation, but there is no formal rule-making process underway right now.

Haveman is about to step down as the top health official in Governor Rick Snyder’s administration. He served in the same role under Governor John Engler. 

Rick Pluta is Senior Capitol Correspondent for the Michigan Public Radio Network. He has been covering Michigan’s Capitol, government, and politics since 1987.
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