Washington Board of Health wants feedback on requiring COVID vaccine for students

OLYMPIA, Wash.– Parents and caregivers have a chance to share their thoughts on whether or not the COVID-19 vaccine should be required.

The Washington Board of Health launched a survey that asks for feedback around mandating the shot for public schools and daycares. This comes as a technical advisory board for the Washington State Board of Health explores the option.

The Board of Health has been working with the Washington Department of Health to bring the technical advisory group together to talk about requiring 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.

Here are the questions asked on the survey:

  • Would adding COVID-19 vaccine as a requirement for school entry make you more or less likely to get your child vaccinated?
  • How burdensome would an additional immunization requirement for school entry be for you and your family?
  • What are some of the barriers you face to getting your child vaccinated against COVID-19?
  • What are some of the benefits you see to vaccination? Do the possible benefits of vaccinating your child against COVID-19 reduce the impact of identified burdens of obtaining the vaccine?
  • Do you believe adding COVID-19 vaccine as an immunization requirement for school entry is reasonable? Why or why not?

It also asks for your community or organization affiliation.

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 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.”

You can find the survey here. 

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

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