More than 60 years ago at the University of Michigan, Dr. Jonas Salk unveiled the first effective vaccine to combat polio. Three years prior to the announcement, polio had afflicted 58,000 individuals. Infections plummeted with the availability and administration of Salk’s vaccine, falling to only 8 by 1975. In 1999, the United States celebrated its first year without a single reported case of polio.

Vaccines are safe, effective and save lives. Unfortunately, Michigan has one of the highest childhood immunization waiver rates in the United States, with outbreaks of vaccine-preventable diseases happening far more often than they should.

That’s why, in 2014, a new rule was proposed, received a legislative hearing, and was approved to combat these diseases. Since then, there have been 18,000 fewer philosophical waiver requests statewide. In other words, nearly 20,000 children are safer, healthier and better protected against deadly diseases.

Michigan’s significant improvements in childhood immunization are a direct result of a reform designed to better educate parents on the safety and importance of vaccinations.