Advisory group votes against Washington requiring COVID vaccine for students

Feb 25, 2022, 9:44 AM

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First grade students at the Green Mountain School practice social distancing during recesses in Woodland, Washington. (Photo by Nathan Howard/Getty Images)

(Photo by Nathan Howard/Getty Images)

After three full days of hearing from experts, a special technical advisory group has voted against a recommendation that the Washington State Board of Health add the COVID-19 vaccine to the list of required vaccinations for K-12 students at this time.

Likely that Washington schools will eventually require students to get COVID vaccine

The panel narrowly rejected a recommendation for the vaccine mandate — with six yes votes, seven no votes, and four unsure.

Several of the advisory group members voiced concerns that the downsides could outweigh any potential public health benefit, and many felt there just wasn’t enough information about COVID transmission to decide whether it actually warrants mandating the vaccine.

The state Board of Health will ultimately have the final say, and will have to incorporate the advisory group’s recommendation in that process, which could start at next month’s board meeting.

All of the meetings have brought protests outside of the Tukwila offices, and Thursday was no different. That led to a warning from Board Vice Chair Tom Pendergrass as the panel wrapped up.

“We have received word that there are a group of aggressive people outside the department of health offices in Tukwila, and they are [saying] that board of health members are Nazis and other things,” he said.

“I, again, want to caution all of you,” Pendergrass continued. “This is a time to screen your phone calls, to screen your emails, to be certain that you are staying safe. Be aware of what’s going on around you.”

KIRO Newsradio’s Hanna Scott contributed to this report.

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Advisory group votes against Washington requiring COVID vaccine for students