State aims to educate parents on immunizations
Currently parents in Michigan have to sign a waiver for their kids to go to school without certain vaccinations, but new legislation in Lansing could make that process a little harder.
The state is in the early stages of developing the legislation that could require parents to go to their county health departments to sit down with a nurse to discuss the immunizations before making a final decision.
Under Michigan law parents are allowed to sign a waiver for religious, medical, and philosophical reasons.
"On the internet there's so much misinformation and it's really difficult even for someone who's very educated to sort through what's accurate and what's not," said Leelanau and Benzie County Health Department Director of Personal Health, Michelle Klein. "That's why sitting down with somebody who has a low of knowledge and asking questions and having concerns addressed one on one will hopefully be very beneficial."
According to the Michigan Department of Community Health, Leelanau County is the second highest county in the state for immunization waivers.
As of April of this year, 73 percent of children ages 19-36 months had been fully vaccinated in Benzie County, 75 percent in Grand Traverse County, and only 67 percent in Leelanau County.
"I think there is a misconception that these diseases aren't out there anymore, that there isn't a lot of risk," said Klein.
Health officials say they're worried that if parents continue to opt out of getting their kids vaccinated, that the impact could be wide-spread.
"We're concerned we're going to see more and more outbreaks of diseases like measles and pertussis, and potentially even diseases that we haven't seen before," said Klein.
Klein says the goal is to have 95-percent of the population fully vaccinated. She says it's a safe amount that can prevent outbreaks from happening.
The Center for Disease Control reports that since Friday, there have been nearly 200 cases of measles in the U.S. this year alone. 68 have come out of Ohio, making it the largest outbreak since 1996.