Michigan Immunization Reform
By Karin Maupin, MSMSA and Kent County Legislative Chair
The Michigan State Medical Society (MSMS) has been meeting with physicians, public health officials, legislators and media representatives to address the high percentage of non-vaccinated individuals in Michigan. Our State has the distinction of ranking the fourth highest in parents seeking waivers to vaccine requirements. According to the Detroit Free Press of the 125,000 2013 kindergartners, 7,300 or 5.5% were not vaccinated. One reason that Michigan has such a high number of exemptions is that state law permits philosophical waivers and allows a very liberal interpretation of that law. Four out of five Michigan immunization exemptions are for philosophical reasons. School systems now have less than 72% of their young children and 63% of adolescents fully vaccinated. Cases of whooping cough and measles are on the rise.
Families travel and bring back diseases. A major epidemic could sweep across Michigan. In order to protect the most vulnerable in our state a proposal has been filed by the Department of Community Health with the Secretary of State to request changes to the 1978 Michigan Public Health Code. This was done in accordance with the Administrative Procedures Act (PA306). On November 5, 2014, a Public Hearing was held in Lansing with only supporters in attendance. The rule changes and public responses go to the Joint Committee on Administrative Rules (JCAR) for final consideration. The Department of Public Health must adopt the rule changes before January 1 or the whole procedure must begin again.
The modification to the Public Health Code that should have the greatest impact on Michigan’s immunization statistics is the addition of informed consent. Each individual requesting an exemption must receive local health education on the benefits of vaccinations and the risks of not receiving the vaccines being waived. All requests must be submitted using the form prescribed by the State and have to be certified by the local health department. Also, if a health official suspects that a student has a communicable disease that student may be excluded from school for a period sufficient to obtain determination of health by a physician or local health officer. All students lacking documentation of immunity or considered susceptible to a communicable disease will be restricted from attending school until there is no risk of disease spread.
MSMS/A is placing immunization awareness as one of its most important projects for 2014-2015. Kent, Muskegon and the Tri-Counties Medical Society Alliances have held public, informational meetings about the need to immunize.
Support is needed to push this effort forward.
For more information contact Andrew Schepers or Steve Japinga at MSMS .
For more information contact Karin Maupin firstname.lastname@example.org