State Board of Health is looking at COVID-19 vaccine mandate for school children through advisory group, and it seeks parent input

By ELIZABETH HOVDE  | 
Jan 24, 2022
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As I reported Jan. 7 and Jan. 12, the State Board of Health has asked a technical advisory group to make a recommendation about whether to add a COVID-19 vaccine to the required vaccination schedule for schools. The advisory group is not expected to report for months.

Under state law, the State Board of Health (SBOH) can impose immunization requirements for school entry, and the SBOH may or may not approve the recommendation it is given. The state already requires several vaccinations for children to attend school, including polio, whooping cough, measles, mumps and tetanus. Personal and religious exemptions are available and used.

That an advisory group was asked to research COVID-19 vaccine inclusion should have us all watching its progress. Long-term studies on the effects of COVID vaccines don’t yet exist, the risk of injury or death from COVID-19 to school-age children is extremely low, and the current vaccines have not proven able to prevent contraction or spread of the virus, although they help greatly in reducing the severity of the disease. Visit future SBOH meeting dates and agendas here. At the last SBOH meeting, more than 7,500 concerned people signed up to give public comment. Written comments can also be sent to wsboh@sboh.wa.gov.

The SBOH has an online form for parents and caregivers here. A list of six questions includes, “Would adding COVID-19 vaccine as a requirement for school entry make you more or less likely to get your child vaccinated?” and “Do you believe adding COVID-19 vaccine as an immunization requirement for school entry is reasonable? Why or why not?”

Parents are children’s primary caregivers and should be heard. The State Board of Health is right to seek their input. I’ll continue to track this, as state officials continue their consideration of a COVID-19 vaccine requirement for children.

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