Drop in immunization waivers after new law

Posted at 5:56 PM, Jan 28, 2016

It's been a year since the state started a new law that require parents who aren't getting their kids immunized to go through a meeting with the department of health. And because of it, the state has seen a 39% drop in immunization waiver rates.

Vaccination advocate, Monica Fochtman, speaks out about the importance of getting children up to date shots after her son was diagnosed with cancer.

"As a result of the chemotherapy that whipped out his immune system all of his previous immunity was gone" said Fochtman.

While her son was in treatment, any time she had to leave the hospital or her home put her in fear.

"Being in any kind of public space, church, school, [or] Meijer, he could have very easily come into contact with someone who was caring a communicable disease" Fochtman said.

So when she found out that more people are getting their immunization shots and the waiver rates dropped by 39% across the state, she was relieved.

In the Capitol area waiver rate dropped by 29% in Eaton County, 30% in Ingham, and 55% in Clinton. Dropping rates that Fochtman hopes will continue.

Fochtman says parents who don't get their children immunization shots affect more than their selves, "when a parent chooses not to immunize their individual child they're also potentially putting the community at risk."

The Department of Health & Human Services stands by the importance of immunizations and that's why they're fighting against two bills in the House. Bills they say will do more harm than good.

House bills 5126 and 5127 if passed would get rid of the meeting with the health department and make sure kids who aren't vaccinated can't be told to stay home.

Ingham County Health Officer Linda Vail says these pieces of legislation would only backtrack their recent success.

"We just want you to make sure that you're making a very inform choice and you'll understand vaccines and the safety of vaccines, the efficacy of vaccines, and the consequences of a choice that says I'm not gonna do that, a choice that we still allow you to have" said Vail.

Vail says as more people skip the waivers and get immunized it improves the overall health of the state. "As that waiver rate drops we're now moving safely towards being in that herd immunity range to protect people who can't get vaccinated" Vail said.