WEDNESDAY. April 5 — Move over Typhoid Mary, Republican State Rep. Tom Barrett is taking over. The second-term lawmaker from Potterville introduced legislation last week that will dramatically hamper the ability of public health officers to respond to contagious and infectious diseases in schools.
The bill, HB 4425, would make impossible for a local health officer — you know, the folks empowered by state law to take action to control epidemic diseases — to prohibit students who aren’t vaccinated from attending a school during an outbreak of measles or whooping cough.
The key language in the provision prohibits the Health and Human Services Department from creating rules that allow a local health officer the ability to “exclude from attendance an individual who lacks documentation of immunity or is otherwise considered susceptible to the communicable disease.” Those are precisely the individuals most likely to contract a contagious vaccine preventable disease. Excluding them is a key public health measure.
And Michigan is 44th in the U.S. in vaccinations, according to Health and Human Services. Ingham County ranks 34th out of Michigan’s 84 counties on waivers for mandated vaccines for school age kids, according to that same data. City Pulse reported on the importance of vaccination in February 2015.
Ironically, state health officials launched a new push to vaccinate Michigan’s kids three days before Barrett introduced his legislation.