89.1 WEMU

Health Care Officials Urging Kids Get Vaccines Before School Year Starts

Aug 25, 2014

Credit Gates Foundation / Foter / Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)
As parents get ready to send children back to school, health officials are calling for kids to get appropriate vaccinations.  The request comes at a time when more Washtenaw County parents opt out of vaccinations than other counties in the state.      

Washtenaw County Public Health Immunizations Coordinator Chris Karpinski says vaccines are a safe easy way to prevent illness from spreading.

So why are so many local parents opting not to have their children vaccinated? Karpinski thinks many in the county are asking for a vaccine waiver just because they have been unable to get their kids in for shots before the school year starts. Karpinski wants all parents to talk with their primary care provider about vaccines. "They have concern about the safety of vaccines and they're getting information off the internet or from somebody else that they know, and it's not necessarily the right information.  Or they have a valid concern but there's a very good medical reason," she says.

Ann Arbor Public Schools Director of Communications Liz Margolis says parents skipping vaccines appear to be causing issues in Ann Arbor. "Talking with our nurses that we definitely see an impact with that, we've had higher, much higher cases in this community of whooping cough in the past few years, and while kids that are vaccinated can get that as well, we are seeing impacts from students that have not been vaccinated," Margolis says.

Vaccine information is needed for kindergarten students, seventh graders, and anyone starting at a new district.

Margolis says Ann Arbor schools start contacting parents if the information isn't submitted within the first few weeks of school.

Washtenaw County Public Health offers immunizations by appointment by calling 734-544-6700.

Like 89.1 WEMU on Facebook and follow us on Twitter— Andrew Cluley is the Ann Arbor beat reporter, and anchor for 89.1 WEMU News. Contact him at 734.487.3363 or email him acluley@emich.edu.