Remove the philosophical exemption from Michigan's childhood vaccination law
This petition had 3,360 supporters
It’s all about herd immunity. And right now, Michigan is in danger of losing it, putting everyone at risk of contracting deadly diseases.
Nearly half of the state’s population lives in counties with kindergarten vaccination rates below the level needed for "herd immunity," the public health concept that when at least 93 percent of people are vaccinated, their immunity protects the vulnerable and prevents disease from spreading. There are more than 800 schools in Michigan with waiver rates so high that they’ve lost their herd immunity, making those schools prime targets for disease outbreaks.
This public health crisis can be traced to the “philosophical waiver,” which allows parents to opt out of vaccines for any reason and still send their unvaccinated children to public schools.
MLive Media Group is calling on the Legislature to enact the following changes to Michigan's childhood immunization requirements for public schools:
- Remove the philosophical exemption. Allowing parents to opt out of vaccinating their children for any reason sends a strong and dangerous message that vaccines aren’t really necessary. Science tells us that vaccines are absolutely necessary if we wish to keep our communities free of these diseases. Eliminating this exemption would go a long way toward restoring herd immunity to our communities that are currently in danger.
- Strengthen religious waivers. It’s almost certain that if the philosophical exemption is removed, a number of parents will claim certain religious beliefs. Therefore, it’s imperative that the rules be strengthened to discourage skirting of the law. Religious waivers should be signed by a representative of the parent's religious organization, asserting vaccination is contrary to religious beliefs. They should also be signed by a medical professional verifying the parent has attended an educational session about vaccination. Signatures should be notarized, and waivers should be renewed annually.
- Strengthen medical waivers. A tiny fraction of children can’t be vaccinated for medical reasons. Removing the philosophical exemption could prompt more parents to seek unwarranted medical waivers. Therefore, medical waivers should be signed by a medical doctor verifying the patient has a true medical condition preventing vaccination, and that a parent has attended an educational session about vaccination. Signatures should be notarized.
- Make vaccination rates public. Schools should be required to publish their vaccination rates on their websites, and update them every year. Parents have a right to know which schools have high numbers of parents opting out and putting everyone at risk.
The overwhelming success of vaccinations in all but eliminating deadly childhood diseases has caused us to become complacent. But the resurgence of certain diseases and the loss of our herd immunity should serve as a wake-up call. We must take bold action now to regain that herd immunity before it is too late.
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See the full editorial on MLive.com.
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