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State health officials say vaccine waiver rate heading in wrong direction

Rhoda Baer
Public Domain

More Michigan parents are requesting vaccination waivers for their children.

The rate dropped to 3.1% in 2015, after a new state law went into effect in 2014, requiring parents who want a waiver to attend a vaccine education session at their county health department.

The rate has since crept up to 3.8% in 2018.

Bob Swanson directs the Immunization Division at the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services.

He says it's a worrisome trend, especially after this year's measles outbreak. 45 people caught measles in Michigan, the highest number since a measles outbreak in 1990. 

But he says it's best not to respond to inaccurate information from anti-vaccination parents.

"What's important is that we continue to promote the positive," says Swanson. "And everything that's good about vaccines, and not worry as much about what others may be saying."

While the statewide vaccine waiver average is 3.8%, it varies significantly by county. Some Michigan counties have a waiver rate as high as 13%.

Accurate information about vaccines can be found at Michigan's I Vaccinate website, the Centers for Disease Control website, and the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) website.

Tracy Samilton covers energy and transportation, including the auto industry and the business response to climate change for Michigan Public. She began her career at Michigan Public as an intern, where she was promptly “bitten by the radio bug,” and never recovered.
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