News Story

Whitmer’s Nonessential Health Care COVID Orders Drove Down Childhood Vaccination Rates

Among required vaccinations for Michigan schoolchildren are polio, hepatitis B, measles, chickenpox and meningitis

Michigan went through one of the most stringent COVID lockdowns in the country. Among other things, the governor banned what she deemed nonessential medical procedures, which also caused a substantial drop in vaccinations for other diseases, according to a study published Oct. 7 by the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. The hospital compared data on a monthly basis from January 2018 through September 2020. The data came from the Michigan Care Improvement Registry, where state vaccinations are recorded.

Whitmer’s actions also brought a lawsuit by the Mackinac Center Legal Foundation on behalf of three medical practices and one patient. According to the lawsuit, at least one of the medical practice’s patients was infected with gangrene due to not being able to have gallbladder surgery. Others suffered a heart attack or contemplated suicide.

Michigan children aged 19 to 35 months had the most significant drop in vaccinations in 2020, compared with 2019. Adolescents received 85.6% fewer vaccinations in April 2020, the month with the greatest decreases. Children ages two through eight saw an 82.7% decrease. The lockdown had the least impact on vaccinations that month for children younger than two, with a 34.9% drop. Adult vaccinations were down 34.9%.

The state of Michigan requires children in public schools to be vaccinated for diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis; polio; measles, mumps and rubella; hepatitis B; meningococcal conjugate; and varicella (Chickenpox).

Whitmer began to lift lockdown restrictions in June 2020. The Michigan Supreme Court ruled in favor of the Mackinac Center Legal Foundation on Oct. 2, 2020. By that time, however, the lockdown had caused a substantial backlog of medical treatment. The University of Michigan Health System said in May 2020 that it had 12,000 procedures waiting to be scheduled, according to the Detroit Free Press.

Michigan Capitol Confidential is the news source produced by the Mackinac Center for Public Policy. Michigan Capitol Confidential reports with a free-market news perspective.