Mead School District wants to hear from parents about requiring COVID vaccine for students

MEAD, Wash.– Mead School District leaders want to know what parents think about requiring COVID-19 vaccines for students.

In an email sent to families, the Mead School District Board of Directors asked parents to share their thoughts on the COVID-19 vaccine getting added to the list of required childhood immunizations.  The survey comes as a Washington State Board of Health committee is looking into adding it.

The Board of Health has been working with the Washington Department of Health to bring the technical advisory group together to talk about the COVID-19 vaccine. In October, board members voted to start the process. If the group decides to add the COVID-19 vaccination to the required immunization list, it will then make a recommendation to the Board of Health.

The Mead School District wants parents to weigh in so it can “be informed regarding our community’s stance on this issue.” School leaders said the purpose of the survey is to get feedback from the community to share with the State Board of Health. It does not necessarily determine what the district will or will not do when a decision is made at the state level.

Last October, Washington Superintendent Chris Reykdal said he did not feel it was appropriate for the state to mandate the COVID-19 vaccine for students this 2021/22 school year. But he said that could change if and when the vaccine is fully authorized for children. However, if the vaccine is approved to go on the list of required immunizations, it’s possible it will be required for the next school year.

Requiring vaccines for students to go to school is not a new concept. The state already requires students to have the MMR vaccine, Tdap, Hep B, dTaP, Varicella and polio vaccines.

Parents can request personal/philosophical, religious or medical exemptions for any of the vaccines except the MMR, which the state only allows exemptions for religious and medical reasons.

It could take a few months for the committee to figure out what if the COVID-19 vaccine should be added to the list of required immunizations. Once it votes on it, it will then make a recommendation to the board in a regularly scheduled meeting.

The group has nine criteria it needs to consider before making a decision on whether or not to make it a requirement:

  1. The vaccine is recommended by the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP).
  2. The vaccine is effective based on data from the state.
  3. The vaccine is cost-effective.
  4. There is evidence that the vaccine is safe and has “an acceptable level of side effects.”
  5. The vaccine prevents disease.
  6. The vaccine will help reduce the risk of transmission.
  7. If the vaccine is acceptable by the medical community and public.
  8. Delivery and tracking of the vaccine is reasonable.
  9. That “the burden of compliance for the vaccine… is reasonable for a parent or caregiver.”

The Board of Health will meet on January 12 to continue discussing vaccine requirements for kids. Anyone who wants to give public input can do so by Jan. 7 at noon.

RELATED: Washington Board of Health committee considers adding COVID vaccine to list of required childhood immunizations

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