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February 6, 2019

Strengthening Washington state's immunization policy

During the 2019 state legislative session, the WSMA is supporting Senate Bill 5841 (Sen. Cleveland, sponsor) and House Bill 1638 (Rep. Harris, sponsor) as per WSMA House of Delegates policy supporting the elimination of personal and philosophical vaccine exemptions for school, child care, and preschool immunization requirements.

Overview

Immunizations are safe and among the most effective ways to protect everyone from serious, preventable illnesses—especially young kids. Current outbreaks of measles remind us of the vulnerability of our community’s health and the importance of getting vaccinations to ensure community immunity.

To strengthen our state’s immunization policy and protect our communities, the WSMA supports the elimination of personal and philosophical vaccine exemptions for school, child care, and preschool immunization requirements, as outlined by WSMA House of Delegates policy.

During the 2019 state legislative session, the WSMA will support Senate Bill 5841, which would eliminate the personal and philosophical exemption for all child immunization requirements, and House Bill 1638, which would eliminate the personal and philosophical exemption for childrens’ measles, mumps, and rubella vaccine.

Why it matters

Our state’s vaccination rate for kindergarten-age children for the 2017-18 school year is 86 percent—well below the 95 percent state target to effectively prevent the spread of most diseases. According to Department of Health data from 2017-18:

  • 4.7 percent of Washington kindergarteners claimed an exemption to at least one vaccine—over twice the national rate.
  • Nearly 9 of 10 children with non-medical exemptions claimed personal/philosophical reasons.
  • Hundreds of state schools have completion rates too low to effectively prevent the spread of pertussis, measles, rubella, and other preventable diseases.

States such as California and Vermont that have eliminated the personal/philosophical exemption have seen non-medical exemptions decrease and overall vaccination rates rise—affording greater protection to communities and individuals.

Call to action

Support SB 5841 and HB 1638 as per WSMA House of Delegates policy supporting the elimination of personal and philosophical vaccine exemptions for school, child care, and preschool immunization requirements.

More information

Katie Kolan, JD
206.618.4821
kak@wsma.org

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