New Process for Immunization Waivers in Michigan
New requirements are in place for parents and guardians who opt not to fully vaccinate their children before the children enter school or childcare. Immunization waivers are needed when a parent or guardian skips one or more of the vaccinations required for children entering school or childcare settings. There are two types of waivers:
- Nonmedical waivers are based on religious, philosophical or other objections to receiving required vaccines. Under the new requirements, parents and guardians seeking nonmedical waivers must participate in a science-based education session with a health professional at their local health department. The Berrien County Health Department provides these immunization education sessions to those seeking a nonmedical waiver for their children.
- Medical waivers are based on a child having a medical reason (a contraindication or precaution) for not receiving required vaccines. In this case, a physician must provide documentation of the medical reason for not vaccinating.
Requesting Immunization Waivers in Berrien County
- Call the Berrien County Health Department at 269-926-7121 to schedule an appointment for an education session. Children are not required to attend the immunization education session, but are welcome to attend.
- At the end of the education session, request a certified State of Michigan Nonmedical Wavier Form. Return the completed and signed form to the child's school or childcare center.
After the session, parents or guardians may request that the child or children receive the required vaccines. Vaccinations will be provided as time and staffing allow. Or, vaccinations may be scheduled with the child's regular health care provider.
Contact the child's health care provider. A physician must sign the State of Michigan Medical Contraindication Form. Return the signed form to the child's school or childcare center.
Why the Change?
Michigan has one of the highest waiver rates in the country, with as many as 4.7% of the school-aged children opting out of full vaccination. However, in Berrien County, more than 96% of children are fully vaccinated upon entering school. These new rules will help provide parents and guardians with reliable information about the benefits of vaccination and the risks of disease.
Michigan Public Health Law requires that all infants and children have certain vaccinations or a valid waiver before entering public or private school or licensed childcare settings. These requirements exist to prevent the spread of disease and to prevent injury or death in the community. Immunization records are checked every fall for all licensed childcare, preschool and Head Start students. Public and private schools check immunization records at the beginning of the school year for kindergartners, seventh graders and all newly enrolled students.
- Required Immunizations for Michigan Childcare/Preschool Attendance (PDF) for infants and children birth through 5 years
- Required Childhood Immunizations for Michigan School Settings (PDF) for children 4 years through 18 years
In December, 2014, the Joint Committee on Administrative Rules approved a new educational requirement for Michigan parents opting their children out of getting vaccinated before entering school. See information from the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services on the change.
- Key Points for Parents and Guardians (PDF) claiming a nonmedical waiver for Michigan schools and licensed childcare centers.
- Frequently Asked Questions for Parents and Guardians (PDF) on the new Michigan school and licensed childcare rule for claiming a nonmedical waiver for immunizations.
- Frequently Asked Questions for Schools and Childcare Centers (PDF) on new Michigan school and licensed childcare rule for claiming a nonmedical waiver for immunizations.