SPOKANE VALLEY, Wash. - Spokane Valley City Council is exploring an ordinance that would go against state law--allowing unvaccinated children to remain in school during an outbreak of infectious disease.
Several Spokane Valley parents believe their rights are being threatened, and their children are being unfairly punished for not being immunized.
Washington state law allows for schools and health officers to exclude unvaccinated students from school during an outbreak--last year, hundreds of kids who weren't immunized were forced to stay home from school. Jaclyn Gallion's son missed 19 school days.
"I think our children are being punished for their parent's choice," said Gallion. "He was an honor roll student but it impacted his grades that he could not maintain that status," she said.
Gallion is one of several parents calling on Spokane Valley City Council to step in and protect individual rights.
"Parents are responsible to protect their children, not the government," said Spokane Valley City Councilman Ed Pace, who is challenging Washington State's exclusion policy.
"Common sense tells you, and nature tells you, that momma knows best. Period," said Pace.
Dr. Bob Lutz is the appointed health officer at Spokane Regional Health District.
"A parent has the right and responsibility not only to protect his or her family, but also the community," said Lutz. He went on to add that exclusions are designed to boost community-immunity--protecting both vaccinated and unvaccinated students.
"I'm not punishing students, I'm not punishing kids, I'm really trying to protect them," said Lutz. "Certainly those who are susceptible--i.e, have not been vaccinated, are more at risk for transmitting if they contract the virus."
The debate is long from over, and parents like Gallion aren't giving up.
"Just because you're a doctor, or a professional, doesn't mean you know what's best for your child," said Gallion.
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