By Taylor Robinson
Even before the most recent outbreak of measles, chatter began about the need to strengthen the rules and regulations of vaccinations, especially among licensed children centers and schools.
As of Jan. 1, the Michigan Department of Community Health instated a new rule that parents must obtain a waiver from the MDCH if they choose to not vaccinate their children for non-medical reasons. Non-medical refers to religious or philosophical reasons.
Washtenaw Community College’s Children Center is included among the institutions that must abide by this new regulation.
Within the last couple of weeks, the guidelines changed for Trudi Hagen, director of WCC’s Children Center. Originally, the center needed one of two documents to allow a child into the daycare. On the day a child is signed up for the center, Hagen either needed an immunization record or a waiver signed by the parent if he/she did not vaccinate the child.
Because of currently registered children, the regulation will not go into effect until early March. If a parent child does not have proper documents, Hagen said, she must refer the parent to the local health department. After the parent takes a training class about vaccinations, the MDCH is given the responsibility of either signing or not signing a waiver form. Only after the parent presents a stamped document can Hagen allow the child into the center.
“It has been a kind of issue with daycare centers that we haven’t really been happy with, but there’s not much you can do because there’s never been anything with the agencies that regulate us to back us up, but now there is,” Hagen said. “Now the health department has stepped in because of these outbreaks.”
Involved for more than 30 years in the childcare field, Hagen recalled the vaccination debate gained attention when people thought a certain chemical in vaccines caused autism. She added that the chemical is no longer used and not proven as a link for the disorder.
Dr. Matthew Davis, a professor at the University of Michigan since 2000, specializes in pediatrics, internal medicine, and public policy. Davis spoke on the matter that some parents show hesitance toward vaccinations due to the influence of the Internet and media.
“What I advise parents to do is to not make up their minds about vaccines before getting to their child’s doctor office. Often times the information about children’s vaccines on the Web or other resources is incomplete,” Davis said. “I believe that every parent wants to make a decision for their child based on complete information.”
The Center for Disease Control does acknowledge the risks of vaccinations. It’s website mentions the most common reaction is redness and swelling surrounding the injection site that usually goes away in a few days. Some children may experience a rare severe allergic reaction and doctors are trained in dealing with those reactions.
“The vast majority of parents do vaccinate. That is the norm,” Davis said. “I do understand that some parents are concerned about vaccinating their kids and we need to have conversations with those parents.”