Technical Advisory Group (TAG) to Consider COVID-19 for Inclusion in Washington's Immunization Rule

The State Board of Health (Board) has coordinated with the state Department of Health (DOH) to convene a technical advisory group (TAG) to evaluate the COVID-19 vaccine against the Board’s immunization criteria and then make a recommendation to the Board on whether to add the vaccine to the state’s list of required immunizations for school entry.

The Board, at their discretion, may or may not approve the TAG’s recommendation. If the Board were to vote at a future meeting to move forward, then the Board would initiate rulemaking to consider adding the COVID-19 vaccine to the list of required childhood immunizations for school and day care entry. The exemption allowances currently listed in the state’s immunizations law would be available for families and their children who choose not to get vaccinated against COVID-19. These exemptions include medical, religious, philosophical or personal exemptions.

Background and Summary

The Board has the duty and authority to adopt rules establishing the procedural and substantive requirements for full immunization. Washington’s Immunization of Child Care and School Children Against Certain Vaccine-Preventable Diseases rule is to protect children and the public and describe the immunization requirements of children attending schools and childcare centers.

In October 2021 Board members received a briefing at their public meeting on the immunization criteria used to consider additions to the state’s immunization rule. After discussion, Board members directed staff to begin the process of gathering information and preparing to convene a TAG to assess the COVID-19 vaccine against the Board’s nine criteria and develop a recommendation for the Board. At their January 2022 public meeting, the Board received a briefing on the TAG work to date, including an update on its initial orientation meeting held Dec. 29, 2021.

Since 2006, the Board has relied on multi-disciplinary TAGs to review vaccines against nine criteria to recommend to the Board whether specific immunizing agents should be added to the list of required immunizations for school entry. The Board’s Immunization Criteria Document provides details about the TAG process and outlines the method by which a vaccine would be reviewed. Vaccines currently required for school and daycare entry are listed in chapter 246-105 WAC.

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