Immunizations: Michigan law requires parents who do not vaccinate to attend educational session

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KENT COUNTY, Mich. – Michigan State law has changed, making it tougher for families to enroll children in public schools who have not had their vaccinations.

As of Jan. 1, state law requires parents who do not vaccinate based on religious or philosophical beliefs to attend an educational session with their county’s health department. In Kent County, that means an individualized 15-minute session with a nurse to address parents’ concerns. Then, both parties can sign a uniform immunization waiver to ultimately keep their child in school.

Mary Wisinski, immunization program supervisor with the Kent County Health Department, told FOX 17 they are not aiming to harass parents who choose not to vaccinate, but they hope to change their minds.

“I’m old enough, I had measles, I had chickenpox,” said Wisinski, "but I’m also old enough to have gone to school with people who died from those diseases. It’s pretty scary. If you come in here, we believe in vaccines: vaccines are safe, they're effective, but I'm not here to force you to vaccinate your children."

Classes are by appointment only at one of four locations for the Kent County Health Department. Nurses have met with a handful of parents at this point, Wisinski said, but the response was positive.

"I've only spoken with a couple nurses here at this location, but they said actually the appointments went very well, and that the parents told them that they were a little bit nervous about coming here, but that they were very pleasantly surprised."

To hundreds of FOX 17 viewers on social media, immunizations are a heated issue. Some parents who vaccinate, like John Frantz, posted that failing to vaccinate your kids puts others at risk. Meanwhile, parents like Lauren Tori posted that her children medically cannot be vaccinated. Tori shared that her daughter went into a coma, and she believes it was caused by vaccines.

Many others said they think the government is overstepping parental boundaries by requiring this extra step to not vaccinate. “I think ultimately it should be the parents’ choice, what they feel is best for their children,” said Robin Coon, parent who vaccinates her two daughters.

State numbers show Kent County at the lower end of immunization waiver percentages: public schools are at a 3.6 percent and day cares are at 2 percent waiver rate.

For more information see the Kent County Health Department’s immunization website, or the Michigan Department of Community Health’s website.


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  • Drew

    People really need to stop harassing others who choose not to vaccinate, or who CANNOT vaccinate for medical reasons. This seems all fine and dandy until you disagree with the state on something, then YOU are required to get “educated.” This step is a little freaky/scary coming from government. What’s next? You have to have “education” so we can change your mind on what other issues? Religious? “Tolerance”?

    • Dan

      I don’t think its a slippery slope thing. I think its a “mumps is a solved problem but everyone needs the shot so we don’t have children needlessly die” thing.

      • Drew

        You must not realize mumps is rarely fatal. kind of like the chicken pox. It isn’t fun, but really nothing to worry about for a normal person. Not really a reason to run out and get vaccinated (thereby dumping aluminum into your brain). I also stick by my original opinion. Having the government force an education session on someone because it doesn’t like their stance on something wreaks. Sets a bad precedent. Lastly, at the very least, those who have been damaged by vaccines, or know they will be severely injured due to perhaps some other condition they have should NOT have to go.