WA Board of Health will not make the COVID vaccine a requirement for kids to attend school

OLYMPIA, Wash. – The Washington State Board of Health decided unanimously to not add the COVID-19 vaccine to the list of required vaccines for students to attend school or child care for the time being.

This means the proof of vaccination requirements for schools will stay the same, however, the board could look at this requirement again in the future.

While many members feel vaccines are helpful and can help reduce the spread of COVID and death, they say now is not the time, especially with the public’s perception of vaccines.

The conversation of requiring the COVID vaccine has been in the works since October when the board voted to bring together a technical advisory group (TAG) to look at the COVID vaccine and if it would be appropriate to add to the law.

The group decided in a final February meeting to not recommend to the board to add the COVID vaccine to the list of required immunizations. Six group members wanted it to be added, seven said no and four were unsure.

Those against adding the vaccine to the list said they were concerned about the lack of data and were not comfortable with kids losing time away from school. Group members who wanted to add the vaccine to the list said the group had an opportunity to help get rid of the virus. Some members also mentioned it should be added once it’s fully approved by the FDA and not under emergency use authorization and that it could be added to the school entry list later in the future.

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

In considering what to do, the group had to look at nine different criteria before making the recommendation:

  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.”

This process has been in place for other vaccines that are required for students to go to school. Parents can request exemptions for the required vaccines including medical, religious, philosophical and personal exemptions. The only vaccine that does not allow personal and philosophical exemptions is the Mumps, Measles and Rubella vaccine.

PREVIOUS COVERAGE: Wash. Board of Health’s technical advisory group decides not to recommend requiring COVID vaccine for students