Clare County Low in Vaccinations, High in School Waivers

November 18, 2019

By Pat Maurer
Correspondent

Clare County has the lowest percentage of vaccinations for children from 19 to 35 months old, the second lowest number for “School Completion” vaccinations and the highest number of vaccination waivers for school age children.

According to Kim Cherven, Immunization Coordinator and Roscommon Office Supervisor at the Central Michigan District Health Department (CMDHD.org), average immunization numbers are at 75.1 percent for youngsters from 19 to 35 months old. The statewide average is 74.7 percent, according to the third quarter Immunization Report Card.

Cherven said immunizations are important. ““Being a parent myself I would much rather prevent my children from being sick. There are people who cannot be vaccinated for medical reasons. How do we protect them which having the majority of our community vaccinated whether being a child or adult? We have such a traveling population now. It’s important to be protected. Sickness is just one waiting room chair away.”

Over the past three years school completion (immunization) rates have increased and waivers have decreased, she said.

Immunization reporting, required by the state, must be 90 percent complete by November 1 and 95 percent complete by February 1. Both public and private schools that receive public funding are included in the requirement.

The CMDHD district includes six counties: Arenac, Clare, Gladwin, Isabella, Osceola and Roscommon.

Cherven said the third quarter (September 30th) results for children ages 19 to 35 months old that have been immunized places Clare County lowest with 70.3 percent immunized. Arenac County had the highest percentage of babies immunized at 83.2.

Gladwin County was next highest at 78.5 percent, followed by Osceola at 78.2, Isabella at 74.2, and Roscommon at 72 percent.

The overall CMDHD average (not including Hepatitis A) is 75.1 percent. The statewide average is 74.7 percent.

By the time youngsters reach school age those percentages increase significantly.

In the six-county district the “School Completion” immunizations (based on figures from Kindergarten, seventh grade and new students to a school district) jump to 91.9 percent immunized.

Osceola County had the highest average for vaccinations at 96.1 percent and Gladwin the lowest number at 85.8 percent. Isabella was second highest at 93.9 percent, followed by Arenac at 93.7 percent, Roscommon at 91.6 percent and Clare at 87.3 percent.

Immunizations required for schools include DTAP (diphtheria, Pertussis, Varicella or chicken pox), Polio, Hepatitis B, MMR or measles, mumps and rubella for kindergarten.

Cherven said the “Healthy People” goal for 2020 is 80 percent.

Children who are not vaccinated must have a waiver. Waivers are available for medical, religious or philosophical reasons and are seldom denied, Cherven said.

Until 2014, vaccination waivers were available at the schools. New requirements are that medical waivers must come from a primary physician. Those requested for religious or philosophical reasons require that the parent fill out a waiver form at the Health Department listing reasons for not having their child vaccinated and they must also attend a

“Waiver Education” appointment with a nurse at the Health Department about what vaccinations are and how they help.

The number of immunization waivers for religious or philosophical reasons has decreased because of the new requirements, Cherven said.

Waivers for school age children are based on statistics from Kindergarten, seventh grade and new students.

As of February of 2019 reports are that the Michigan average for waivers is 3.8 percent and the CMDHD average is 3.6 percent.

Locally waiver averages for the six-counties are highest in Clare County at 4.8 percent and lowest in Osceola County at 2.5 percent. Arenac’s waiver average is 3.4 percent, Isabella’s is 3.5 percent, Roscommon is at 3.6 percent and Gladwin’s average is 3.7 percent.

Third quarter (September 30, 2019) immunization report cards are available at the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services website.

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