State Board of Health will not yet make a decision to require COVID vaccine for students

Jan 13, 2022, 7:55 AM
vaccine, students...
Jose Rodriguez holds his daughter, Kaeley Rodriguez, 7, after she received a Pfizer-BioNtech Covid-19 vaccine from firefighter Luke Lindgren on Nov. 3, 2021 in Shoreline, Washington. (Photo by David Ryder/Getty Images)
(Photo by David Ryder/Getty Images)

Before Washington State Board of Health members discussed requiring the COVID-19 vaccine for students on Wednesday, members of the public were allowed to express their thoughts.

Most said they object to the idea. Some listed vaccine side effects as the reason.

“I feel that our whole government, health department is lying about all kinds of things. And the people deserve to know,” said one person, primarily concerned about the side effects.

“Why are we pushing something so injurious when the deaths from COVID have dropped to the pre-COVID normal flu deaths?” asked another.

Board members say they have just started to consider mandatory COVID-19 vaccines for public and private school children in Washington, but they won’t be making a final decision until more scientific data is available.

State Superintendent says any future vaccine mandate for students will be ‘statewide’

Currently, schools require students to be vaccinated against Hepatitis-B, tetanus, diphtheria, pertussis, measles, mumps, rubella, and chickenpox, with exceptions carved out for those who have approved religious or health reasons. In 2019, the state Legislature passed a bill removing the exemption for personal and philosophical reasons for the measles, mumps, and rubella vaccine.

The decision to expand that list falls to the state Board of Health.

The state Superintendent of Public Instruction, Chris Reykdal, has previously said he supports mandating the COVID vaccine. But that decision would come after a “rigorous process” involving research into clinical trials for the vaccine, and outreach to families and members of the community.

“These deliberations are always about actually observing tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands, or millions of children with the vaccine, and when that also has a positive outcome, then you’ve seen, historically, state boards of health — including in our state — say, ‘now we’re going to make this a mandatory vaccine to attend school,’” Reykdal told KIRO Radio’s Gee and Ursula Show.

As of Jan. 12, the state Department of Health reports that 22% of children ages 5-11 in Washington are fully vaccinated against COVID-19. Among 12-15 year-olds in Washington, 51.4% are fully vaccinated and 59.5% of all 16-17 year-olds are fully vaccinated.

MyNorthwest staff contributed to this report.

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State Board of Health will not yet make a decision to require COVID vaccine for students