The Washington State Board of Health (Board) voted to adopt the TAG’s recommendation to not recommend adding COVID-19 vaccine to Washington’s list of required immunizations for child care and school entry at its April 13 virtual public meeting.
Board members received a briefing, listened to a presentation by Board staff and state Department of Health staff, and held a discussion before issuing their decision. All materials are available on the meeting webpage. A summary of Board member discussion will be available on the draft April meeting minutes, which will be posted to the Board's website by June 1, 2022. You may also watch the Board briefing, discussion, and decision on TVW.
The exemption allowances currently listed in the state’s immunizations law are available for families and their children. These exemptions include medical, religious, philosophical, or personal exemptions. Only a medical or religious exemption are available for the MMR vaccine.
Recap of the Final TAG Recommendation
TAG members discussed and voted on a final recommendation for the Board at its Feb. 24 virtual meeting. TAG members voted to not recommend adding the COVID-19 vaccine to the state’s list of required immunizations for school entry. The votes were 6 yes, 7 no, and 4 unsure.
- Non-supportive: Members expressed doubt about making a recommendation to the Board and stated concerns about unintended consequences of doing so. Members stated concerns about a lack of good data and not being comfortable with children possibly losing time away from school.
- Supportive: Members who voted to recommend adding COVID-19 vaccine expressed the TAG had an opportunity to help eradicate the virus. Other members stated that the vaccine ought to be added once it is fully licensed by the FDA and other members expressed the vaccine should be added to the school entry list in the future.
Background and Summary
The Board convened a technical advisory group (TAG) in coordination with the state Department of Health (DOH) to develop recommendations for the Board to use when considering whether to add COVID-19 vaccine to the rules setting immunization documentation requirements required for school and child care entry.
The TAG held its orientation meeting on Dec. 29, 2021, received an update from staff at the January 12, 2022 meeting on the preparation work done to that date, and held regular business meetings Feb. 10, 17, and 24. The Board received a briefing on the immunization criteria and process used to consider additions to chapter 246-105 WAC at the Oct. 2021 Board meeting. After discussion, Board members voted to direct staff to begin the process of convening a TAG, in coordination with the state Department of Health to assess the COVID-19 vaccine against the nine criteria and develop a recommendation for the Board.
The Board has authority under RCW 28A.210.140 to adopt rules establishing the procedural and substantive requirements for full immunization. Chapter 246-105 WAC governs the immunization of children in school and childcare against certain vaccine preventable diseases.
TVW Recording of the Board’s April 13 Public Meeting