SPOKANE, Wash. — 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. Now, the Washington State Board of health is considering adding the Covid-19 vaccine to the list.
Health Board members will discuss the proposed mandate at a meeting on Jan. 12. Mead School Board members are encouraging parents to share their thoughts.
“We're talking to lots of parents,” Mead School Board Member BrieAnne Gray said. “There are a lot of people who are very concerned about this—not just parents, grandparents, community members."
Gray said she supports vaccines and all the other immunizations. However, she does not believe parents should be forced to make a decision regarding the COVID-19 vaccine.
"It's forcing parents to vaccinate their children even though they don't necessarily feel comfortable with it," Gray said. "They're being put in this position to vaccinate or not have access to education and this is just a totally unnecessary and terrible position to put the parents in."
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.
Last November, Seattle Public Schools urged the state to add the COVID-19 vaccine to the list of required immunizations.
"Public schools are meant to be run locally and have local control and not always have this sort of top down government approach,” Gray said.
Mead School Board members are asking parents to speak up, and provide public comments to the State Board of Health ahead of their Jan. 12 meeting. Those comments have to be submitted by 12 p.m. Jan. 7.