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Washington State Board of Health nowhere near decision on K-12 vaccine requirement

This proposal would add the COVID-19 vaccine to a list of the other vaccines required for students already.

WASHINGTON, USA — The Washington State Board of Health met to discuss requiring the COVID-19 vaccine for students on Wednesday.

This proposal would add the COVID-19 vaccine to a list of the other vaccines required for students already. There are currently 11 vaccines that Washington students are required to have if they attend public school or daycare. Those vaccines include measles, mumps, polio and chickenpox.  

According to the proposal, all students would have to get the vaccine in order to attend school and day care.

Board members are nowhere near a vote and are seeking guidance from a technical advisory group. The group will carefully look at available data to develop a recommendation that has the best interest for the children in Washington.

While the proposal is not yet decided at the state level, many Washington school districts have asked for input from families. On Monday, the Mead School Board heard public comment and not a single person at the meeting publicly supported the idea. 

Mead School District Superintendent Shawn Woodward said they sent out a survey to Mead families about the vaccine requirements. Woodward said 71% of families do not approve of the requirement. He added that 62% of those families said they would not vaccinate their child if the requirement did pass.

"Over half said if there isn't an exemption process from the vaccine mandate they would not vaccinate their student even if this means withdrawing from the school district," Woodward said. "That's one of the biggest concerns that we have, just potentially a mass exodus from public education."

A survey from KING 5 News in Seattle asked 650 Washington state residents how they felt about mandating the COVID-19 vaccine for school children. Overall, 41% said they strongly support the idea, 27% strongly opposed.

There was a clear divide between eastern and western Washington. 54% of eastern Washington residents surveyed opposed the mandate, while 66% of people in western Washington supported it.

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