Washington lawmaker aims to limit vaccine exemptions

Feb 4, 2015, 6:00 PM | Updated: 6:31 pm
A House lawmaker has introduced a bill that would not allow personal beliefs to be a sufficient rea...
A House lawmaker has introduced a bill that would not allow personal beliefs to be a sufficient reason to not vaccinate a child. (AP)
(AP)

As a fifth person in Washington state is confirmed with a case of measles, a lawmaker has introduced a bill that would not allow personal beliefs to be a sufficient reason to not vaccinate a child.

Rep. June Robinson, a Democrat from Everett, introduced the bill on Wednesday, the same day California lawmakers introduced a measure that would require parents to vaccinate all school children unless a child’s health is in danger.

Related: Why you should, and shouldn’t, worry about measles

Currently, Washington state allows vaccination exemptions for medical, personal or religious beliefs. Robinson’s bill would remove the personal belief allowance for an exemption.

The Seattle Times reports vaccine exemptions exceed 10 percent at 86 schools in King and Snohomish counties for the 2011-2012 school year, which was the latest data from the Department of Health. The Times says many of those schools are clustered in North Seattle, Bellevue, Vashon Island and Arlington.

In those counties, the Times reports 85 percent of exemptions are granted for personal/philosophical reasons and 3 percent for religious beliefs. The other 12 percent of exemptions are for medical reasons.

The move comes following a measles outbreak that has sickened more than 100 people across the U.S., including cases in Washington, and in Mexico. No deaths have been reported.

The fifth case in Washington state was reported Wednesday afternoon by the Clallam County Department of Health and Human Services. It’s not yet known if this case is linked to an outbreak among recent visitors to Disneyland.

National immunization data from 2013 shows 71 percent of Washington children between ages 19-35 months have received all of their shots on time.

Measles is considered one of the most infectious diseases known. The virus is spread through the air when someone infected coughs or sneezes. It can live up to two hours in the air or on the surfaces of a room afterward. It’s so contagious that 90 percent of people who aren’t immunized are infected if exposed to the virus, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Health officials say the vaccine is 97 percent effective; people who are vaccinated can still get the measles, although it’s usually a mild case.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

AP Washington State

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Washington lawmaker aims to limit vaccine exemptions