The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends “cocooning” babies in a safe environment, by assuring the people around them — grandparents, friends, child-care providers, babysitters, and healthcare providers — do not have symptoms of illness and have had all of their immunizations.
Does your child’s day care meet that definition? Policies may vary from setting to setting. Parents who want to check out the vaccination status of their child’s facility should know:
1. What shots are ‘required?’ Michigan requires that infants be immunized against 11 serious childhood diseases to attend a licensed day care center—unless parents sign waivers refusing the shots. Required vaccinations are: Diphtheria,Tetanus, Pertussis, Pneumococcal Conjugate, H.influenzae type b, Polio, Measles, Mumps, Rubella, Hepatitis B and Varicella (Chickenpox)
But required is too strong a term, since parents may opt out of getting their child any or all of the shots, for medical or any other reason. So how many children have actually gotten the required shots is important.
2. Students will fall into one of four categories. What do the various status categories mean? Michigan’s licensed daycare centers are required to maintain public records on the children in their care, reporting once a year to the state the number of children who are:
Complete: Up to date on all shots recommended for their age group.
Provisional: Children who have had at least one dose of each shot for their recommended age group and who are waiting for the next doses. If they pass the dose waiting period without receiving the needed vaccine, the status changes to incomplete.
Incomplete: Children who are overdue for one or more vaccines, including those on an “alternative” schedule of their parents’ devising.
Waived: Children whose parents have waived vaccination entirely, citing medical, religious or personal philosophy as the reason why.
3. What is a center’s vaccination rate? Only those children listed as “complete” have received all the required vaccines, and their percentage of each building represents that building’s vaccination rate, said Bob Swanson, director of Immunizations for Michigan Department of Health and Human Services. The CDC recommends a vaccination rate of at least 95 percent.
5. What about in-home day cares? Home day cares are required to have a statement signed by the parent — either a statement that each child is up-to-date on immunizations or a waiver form.
6. Public vs. private day cares — is there any difference in vaccination requirements? Private day cares that don’t receive public funding can exclude children for not being immunized; day cares that receive public dollars cannot exclude due to lack of immunization.
7. Are the state’s numbers current? Although the tracking system is similar to that used for schools, the vaccines and number of doses of vaccine that are required for children in licensed child care centers differ from those required by schools because of the age at which vaccines are recommended.
Licensed child care centers only report vaccination levels once per year and schools are required to report vaccination levels twice per year.
Licensed child care centers will report all children enrolled in their program; (schools only report for kindergarten, 7th grade, and all children who transfer from one school district to another). The vaccination status of infants may change during a year because early on, shots are required every few months. Children who start the year completely vaccinated may end the year incompletely vaccinated if they don’t stay on track.