Michigan requires that parents have their children receive certain immunizations, or complete a waiver, before they start
daycare around age 3. Schools are required to report these numbers to the state each February.
The 2018 immunization rates of local daycares range from 70 to 100 percent, according to the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS).
Bob Swanson, director of the division of immunizations with the MDHHS, said “It’s very worrisome to us because if we have immunization rates that are low, that means we have a lot of children in school who are not protected. We have a large number of kids susceptible to disease.”
Herd immunity, the term used to describe how much of a population is immunized, which could protect those vaccinated from getting certain diseases from the few who are unvaccinated, differs for each disease. For measles, Swanson said the accepted number is at least 95 percent vaccinated.
The Lake Fenton preschool has one of the highest vaccination rates for local daycares. In 2018, the program was 93 percent immunized with 69 out of 74 students receiving full vaccinations. Three had incomplete records, one student had a religious waiver and one had a philosophical waiver.
Chelsea Horton, the preschool program director, said this year they’re at 93 percent vaccinated. Five parents turned in waivers, two for religious reasons and three for philosophical reasons.
This program consists of children ages 3-5 years old, Horton said, and in order for students to be enrolled, they must turn in a checklist of documents, including a vaccination record from the child’s pediatrician. These documents are kept in Horton’s office.
If parents choose not to have their child vaccinated for a nonmedical reason, they must fill out a nonmedical waiver form issued by the MDHSS.
“Parents must call their county health department to obtain this form. When they call, the health department has an opportunity to address their concerns and questions about immunizations. This allows for scientific-based education and resources to be provided to the parents,” Horton said.
Younger students are more likely to have incomplete records than older students. Horton said these students are simply waiting for their next wellness appointment for the next round of vaccinations.
“In the past when parents have talked about their wishes toward anti-vaccination, I have listened and always stated that I respect their decisions and that they are well within their rights to make those choices. I can only provide state-approved educational resources toward vaccinations for the parents to review if they request it,” Horton said.
“This is a controversial topic and while we each have our own views and beliefs, I have always found it best to remain understanding and mostly neutral to the topic with my parents,” she said. “It is my responsibility to build positive relationships with our families and to do that I must be flexible and open-minded. I have a duty to enforce state regulations and as long as all the proper steps are followed then I am satisfied.”
The daycare has its state certificate with the 2018 vaccination rate posted on the school’s board for parents to see.
• Linden Child Development Center has 24 out of 34 kids with complete immunizations. Seven are provisional or in a dose waiting period and two are listed as incomplete. They have a 70.6-percent immunization rate.
• Fenton Early Head Start has a 71.4-percent immunized rate with five out of seven kids vaccinated. Those students are provisional or are in a dose waiting period.
• The Rainbow Childcare Center in Fenton on Owen Road is 73.4-percent vaccinated. Out of 94 students, 69 are vaccinated. Ten are provisional or in waiting period, 14 incomplete and one philosophical waiver.
• Linden Early Head Start is 75-percent vaccinated, with six out of eight students having complete vaccination records. Two are provisional or in a dose waiting period.
• Rainbow Child Care Center Fenton on Silver Lake Road is 81.8-percent immunized with 45 out of 55 students vaccinated. Eight are provisional and two incomplete.
• Fenton Early Learning Center is 83.7-percent vaccinated with 77 out of 92 kids immunized. Ten are provisional, four incomplete, one religious waiver.
• Linden Head Start is 86.7-percent vaccinated. Thirteen out of 15 students are immunized; one incomplete record, one philosophical waiver.
• St. John Catholic Montessori Preschool is 88.2-percent vaccinated. Thirty out of 34 students are immunized. Two incomplete, two philosophical waivers
• Argentine Elementary Preschool is 92.9-percent vaccinated with 79 out of 85 kids immunized. Two provisional, four philosophical waivers.
• At St. John the Evangelist Catholic Preschool, out of 31 students, 29 have complete vaccinations. Two are listed as incomplete. It has a 93.5-percent immunization rate.
• Fenton Headstart has 18 out of 18 students vaccinated, a 100-percent immunization rate.
• Southern Lakes Head Start is 100-percent vaccinated. All 15 students have complete records.