Skip to Content

Dane County health officials call for vaccine waiver elimination

Remaining Ad Time Ad - 00:00

MADISON (WKOW) -- Dane County public health officials are the latest in Wisconsin to try to get on the record about vaccinations.

The health board met Wednesday evening, where members approved an immunization position statement that calls for an elimination of waivers for personal reasons. Those waivers allow kids to go to school without getting vaccinations.

Health officials say immunization rates in Wisconsin have dropped in recent years, after staying steady for decades.

"Over about the last 10 years, waiver rates in Wisconsin have gone from about 1.6% of all students have had a waiver for immunizations, now we're up to over 5% of students that are claiming a waiver for immunizations," said Sarah Hughes, immunization coordinator for Dane County.

Hughes says that puts people who can't get vaccines because of health reasons at risk.

"We really rely on herd immunity, which is where the majority of people in our community are vaccinated so that the people who aren't able to be vaccinated are protected," she told 27 News.

The health department's recommendations call for the removal of waivers, except for medical reasons. Or, stiffer requirements for those exemptions, like a doctor's signature and annual review of the waiver.

"[Those changes would] really make it a more robust process rather than right now, a parent can just sign the waiver and turn it in and it's good indefinitely," Hughes said.

Wisconsin is one of more than a dozen states allowing waivers for personal reasons, but a bill introduced in 2019 would eliminate that option.

Dane County is one of many working to get on the record about immunizations. Last month, Iowa County officials approved eliminating waivers. Sauk County's board voted down a similar resolution, after a meeting packed with opponents.

Even if these positions statements or policies are approved locally, rules wouldn't change unless state lawmakers were to pass the bill that's still being considered by committees.

Jennifer Kliese

Weekend Anchor and Reporter, 27 News

Skip to content