Vaccination rates steady despite new waiver requirements

LANSING, MI (WLNS) – Vaccination rates in Ingham County are steady, but Ingham County Health Officer Linda Vail says more needs to be done.

“Vaccinations are important because there are diseases out there that you can prevent yourself from getting, some of them very, you know, threatening diseases,” Vail said.

Last January, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services made it a requirement for parents to meet with county officials if they wanted a vaccination waiver for their children.

“It’s really critical, in terms of us in being able to control diseases in schools, so the more we can get that waiver rate down, the better,” Vail said.

As of September, Ingham County was ranked 32nd in the state for the number of waivers, an improvement from their 46th place ranking the year before.

So far in Ingham County, there have been nearly 360 waivers submitted for this school year.

But Jackson County hasn’t been as affected by the requirement, according to health officer Richard Thoune.

“For 2015, we’re pretty much at the same level of 2.6 percent with 167 waivers,” Thoune said.

But legislation introduced in December by Representative Tom Hooker is trying to stop the new waiver requirements.

In a phone interview today, Hooker said departments like the M.D.H.H.S. shouldn’t be allowed change the law, saying instead that they should, “make sure the law is followed as it is written.”

But Linda Vail says getting rid of the change does more harm than good.

“We need to keep the law in place so that people are getting informed consent, and you know, just like many, many other things in the public health world, things sometimes take time,” Vail said.

Vail says her overall goal is to make sure there is enough immunization to make sure everyone is safe.

Representative Hooker says he expects the bill loosening waiver requirements to be up for discussion in the House soon.

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