Our local Southwest Michigan newspaper (yes, print newspapers still exist) ran an article a few weeks ago reminding parents that their children won’t be allowed to attend school if their vaccinations aren’t up to date.
Most parents follow that mandate without even thinking about it – if there aren’t any options, if vaccines are mandatory, then of course, let’s get our well-child checkup scheduled, let’s get those shots.
Except that the newspaper was wrong.
Vaccines are NOT required for school attendance in Michigan.
Michigan still allows for religious, medical and philosophical exemptions to “mandatory” vaccinations, and cautious parents can obtain a vaccine exemption waiver from their local health department. Whether you have avoided vaccines altogether, simply have one or two you choose to skip or are following an alternative vaccination schedule that puts your daycare or preschool student behind on the recommended milestones, you can still attend public schools and daycares.
Paperwork Required to be Exempt from a Vaccine in Michigan
The waiver used to be a simple piece of paper that you filled out and signed, done. At the beginning of 2015, that all changed. Now parents have to go in person to the health department for a vaccine information session, typically one-on-one with a public health nurse.
It’s required to make an appointment, and you’ll need a newly signed waiver at these points in a child’s school career:
- Every year to enter preschool or daycare
- Start of kindergarten
- Start of 7th grade
- Any time you move to a new school district
The health department gets a copy, YOU get the original, and you make a copy for your school. (Glad I just wrote that because I nearly turned in my original to the school without thinking!)
And that’s that. Parent choice, alive and well (for now).
This post is sponsored by WellFuture, maker of VacciShield, a nutritional support for infants and kids during vaccinations. It’s designed to support healthy brain, immune, gastrointestinal and detoxification function during the vulnerable time of vaccinations.
Whatever your view on vaccines, I love that (a) we do live in a world where we can choose all, none or some, and (b) there are options for those who choose vaccines but are wary. ALSO, it’s true that vaccines ARE actually mandatory for a small group of people – adopted and foster kids are required to be up to date on shots. No vaccine exemptions allowed.
What was my Vaccine Education Appointment Like?
I was lucky enough to go last summer for my preschooler, and now that he’s a kindergarten student, I got to go again this summer. (Can you hear the sarcasm drip? I hate making and attending appointments even if I think they’re worthwhile…) Looking ahead, oy, between preschool, kindergarten and 7th grade I think I’ll be going the next five years straight.
In all honesty, other than wasting an hour of my life, the appointment was palatable. After about 10 minutes in the waiting room reading the vaccine posters plastered everywhere, I was brought back to the meeting room for another 10 minute wait:
The nurse greeted me pleasantly, and I fairly quickly said that I was just here last year. Rather than start her entire educational session, she began by asking me if I had any questions.
On the spur of the moment, I decided I did. I had seen the documentary Vaxxed earlier the same week and had some pretty powerful takeaways from the film.
I asked, “Have there been any studies comparing vaccinated and unvaccinated children?”
She paused a moment, then answered: “Well, I’m sure there are many,” in a voice clearly meant to brush off the question.
I shot out firmly: “Actually, there aren’t. It’s the standard for all other pharmaceutical medication, but not for vaccines, so that makes me too uncertain. There’s also no testing of the effects of multiple vaccinations in one day, which is what we give our children. I just don’t want mine to be the guinea pigs.”
She blinked a few times. And the appointment went very quickly from there!
Our Vaccine History
I’ve changed what I think about vaccines many times over the course of parenting, but my husband and I continue to say that it’s one of the worst and most difficult decisions we have to make as parents.
- My oldest was fully vaccinated until age 5.
- His sister had a bit of a delayed schedule, then we petered off.
- Number three had just the pneumococcal shot as an infant but is largely unvaccinated since then.
- Baby Gabe has not had any vaccines.
All three older kids have had whooping cough with varying degrees of intensity, so we’ve experienced what vaccines protect against. We’re also grateful now for the natural immunity, and although it wasn’t an easy 100 Day Cough by any means, I don’t regret the choices we’ve made.
Mary Voogt of Just Take a Bite, a contributing writer and team member here at KS, has a house full of awful food allergies. She looks back at the timeline of her kids’ medical history, the trajectory of developing allergies, starting to heal from them, getting a round of vaccines, developing dozens more…and she’s certain that her kids all suffer from vaccine injuries.
I wish more people understood that the potential “side effects” of vaccines are not just a low-grade fever for a few hours or some fussiness and pain at the injection site. Vaccine reactions can change children’s lives, forever. So can the diseases against which vaccines offer protection.
What a horrendous decision for parents to have to make:
- Put your child at risk of a potentially deadly or debilitating disease, knowing that you could have done something to stop it.
- Give your child an untested drug in hopes that they’re protecting from disease but at the same time potentially giving them an autoimmune disease, food allergies, learning disability or –yes, I’m going to say it – maybe autism.
There’s no winning there.
Lately we’ve chosen number 1. If you’re in the camp of number 2, I’ll respect you (more so if you’ve done your research). I’ll also recommend that you grab some VacciShield for your child’s next appointment, because at least you can say that you did something to reduce the potential side effects, that you bolstered your child’s immune function and gut health as best as you knew how.
Before you ask if there are double-blind, placebo-based studies on VacciShield – there aren’t. WellFuture is a small company without the funds to conduct such research, but Catherine Clinton, ND, who formulated the supplement based all of her ingredients on research studies.
We use WellFuture’s infant probiotics daily and I do trust the whole food ingredients in both products. Food to be ingested doesn’t need as much testing as drugs injected, in my humble opinion.
And that’s why I am sticking with the Michigan vaccine exemption:
What I Learned Watching Vaxxed
I’m sure there are plenty of people discrediting Vaxxed because Andrew Wakefield, the scientist accused of lying about autism and the MMR vaccine, was a major part of the project.
In the film, the finger is pointed at the CDC and a handful of government officials, including the Surgeon General, for collaborating to hide data and shift the results of the CDC’s investigation into the vaccine/autism connection.
Both sides have their data, their figures, their recorded conversations…whatever.
For my purposes, I’m happy to throw it all out.
Throw out Andrew Wakefield’s findings that there may be a correlation between a shot of the MMR vaccine early in life and autism.
Throw out the CDC’s findings that vaccines do not cause autism.
What matters in the whole conversation are 3 things:
- Vaccines are not tested using double blind placebo studies. There are not studies comparing vaccinated and unvaccinated kids to help us really understand the effects of vaccines.
- The effects of multiple vaccines in one day has not been studied.
- In 1986, the National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act was established, which gives vaccine manufacturers a get-out-of-jail-free card. They will never be held responsible if their product injures or kills someone. The taxpayers will cover it.
That’s the beginning and the end of it for me. I can’t just follow blindly once I know that there are so many questions about how vaccines actually work – my kids aren’t lab rats.
Also, it makes me angry that the pharmaceutical companies have made it so difficult for parents to HAVE choices. When Andrew Wakefield recommended during a press conference that parents ask for the MMR in separate doses until more research could be done, it was a matter of a year or two and suddenly no one was producing single doses, only the triple MMR.
So if you live in Michigan (and most other states), you can obtain an exemption for your child to allow you to make decisions about their vaccinations. I hope and pray that our country does not continue in the direction of California, taking away parents’ right to choose what happens to their children’s bodies.
Be courteous in all of your conversation, please, dear readers! Remember that everyone’s life experience is different and we cannot assume anything about anyone else.
- Michigan for Vaccine Choice
- Find a screening of Vaxxed in your area
- Michigan for Vaccine Choice closed Facebook group