It's fairly easy for parents in Michigan to avoid getting their kids vaccinated. An objection here (basically) amounts to, "Eh, not interested." That, in part, is why we have the country's fourth-highest rate of religious or philosophical waivers to vaccine requirements — roughly 5.5 percent of Michigan's 125,000 kindergartners, according to The Associated Press. It's not only philosophical reasons that drive Michigan's numbers up: Some parents simply forget to schedule a vaccination and score a waiver with relative ease.
That puts Michigan in the top-tier of unvaccinated states. A comprehensive report from Mother Jones today that details a growing anti-vaccination trend here found only Oregon has a higher population of unvaccinated kids than Michigan. Vermont and Idaho share similar numbers.
And where there's high levels of exemptions, this happens:
On Vashon Island, Washington, 17 percent of kindergartners failed to receive their shots in 2013 due to a "personal/philosophical" exemption. That's nine times the current national average. The year before, Vashon Islanders accounted for 16 percent of all whooping cough cases in Washington state's King County, despite housing just one percent of its population.