St. Joseph Michigan Criminal Defense Blog

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Whether to Vaccinate Your Child or Not May Not Be Your Decision

children’s vaccinations

One of the most contentious arguments is whether children should be vaccinated or not.

The vaccination argument has many sides: health concerns, religious objections, and even arguments among the medical community. And once parents are divorced, they may each try to enforce their own views on the matter.

The Michigan Court of Appeals recently addressed this issue after a lower court ruled that a father could not force the mother to have their children’s vaccinations updated. The court looked to the Michigan law which requires any decisions affecting children to be in their best interests and didn’t feel that the father met this criterion.

The father appealed to the higher court which, after two go-rounds, reversed the decision on the basis of inadmissible evidence presented by the mother upon which the court had based its ruling.

The mother, who was not represented by a Michigan family law attorney, introduced unreliable evidence from sources such as Wikipedia.com, which can be edited by anyone online, Snopes.com, which is basically a site that follows rumors, and articles from several so-called “medical” sites for which no foundation was laid to prove that the information was reliable.

In invoking the “best interests of the child” principle under MCL 722.23, the court said the children should not need to have their vaccinations updated only if a medical professional found that the vaccinations would be harmful to the children or their risks outweighed their benefits. It gave the mother 21 days to present this proof.

The case follows public concerns about the health risks to the community when children are not vaccinated. Michigan is one of 20 states that allows parents to sign waivers without specifying religious or medical reasons that permit their children to attend school without required vaccinations. In Michigan about seventy-five percent of the waivers obtained are based upon philosophical objections.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Michigan has one of the highest waiver rates in the country for kindergartners just entering the school systems. In the last five years, that number has increased by 23 percent. The national median of children entering kindergarten without vaccinations is 1.8 percent. By contrast, Michigan’s average rate is 5.9 percent, with 21 counties have a rate of 7.1 percent or more.

Regardless of the dangers cited by the CDC, each parent has the right to make these decisions for their children. If you are in a position that requires you to fight to have your children vaccinated, you may require legal assistance from a family law attorney who serves Berrien County and the Southwest Michigan area. For further information and assistance please contact the Peter J. Johnson Law Office, PLLC at 269.982.1100 or visit www.AttorneyPeterJohnson.com.

Source: LegalNews.com, “Appeals court: Mother can’t keep kids from being vaccinated,” Traci R. Gentilozzi, July 23, 2015

Secondary Source: MLive.com, “Vaccination waivers put hundreds of Michigan communities at risk of disease outbreaks,” Rosemary Parker, Dec. 16, 2014

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