By JASMINE WATTS
Capital News Service
LANSING — Michigan schoolchildren are less susceptible to diseases such as pertussis, chickenpox and measles, thanks to a recent decrease in immunization waivers, according to the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services. Michigan has experienced a 39 percent decrease in the number of waivers submitted for the 2015-2016 school year, compared to the same time last year, the department said in a news release. Waivers, which some parents seek for religious or philosophical reasons, exempt children from required vaccines to enter a specific grade. The fewer children who are vaccinated, the higher the risk of spreading preventable diseases. Michigan had the sixth-highest immunization waiver rate in the country in 2014, with more than 5 percent of kindergarteners lacking required vaccines, according to the department.