State Watch

Washington House passes bill banning personal, philosophical vaccine exemptions

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The Washington state House on Tuesday passed a bill eliminating personal or philosophical exemptions for the vaccine against measles for school-aged children. 

The lower chamber approved the measure in a 57-40 vote, according to The Associated Press. The bill will now head to the state Senate, which is expected to vote on a broader measure related to vaccines in the next week. 

{mosads}The House bill that passed on Tuesday bans the philosophical exemption for the combined measles, mumps and rubella vaccine. But the Senate bill is attempting to remove those exemptions for any vaccination required of school-aged children, the AP reported. 

The news service noted that it remains unclear which measure would move forward if both chambers’ bills pass. The 105-day legislative session in the state is set to conclude on April 28. 

The lawmakers’ efforts to pass legislation related to the issue comes amid an outbreak in the state that has sickened at least 71 people, most of whom are children under the age of 10. The Seattle Times reported last month that the outbreak has cost the state at least $1 million. 

The outbreak reportedly spread in an area with high vaccine exemption rates for school children.

The AP, citing the National Conference of State Legislatures, noted that Washington is one of 17 states in the country that allows people to claim non-medical exemptions for vaccines. Parents can also reportedly claim medical and religious exemptions at the state’s public or private schools or licensed day care centers. 

The Washington Department of Health told the AP that 4 percent of the state’s secondary school students have claimed non-medical vaccine exemptions. 

A large majority of the measles cases are centered in Clark County, where 6.7 percent of kindergartners had a non-medical exemption for the 2017-18 school year. 


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