What is the Washington State Board of Health (Board) deciding at its April 13 meeting?
The State Board of Health (Board) will vote on whether to accept the recommendation from the Technical Advisory Group (TAG) or to initiate rulemaking to include COVID-19 immunization requirements for children in school and childcare. Under state law, the Board has authority to adopt rules to establish the technical and substantive requirements for immunization against certain vaccine-preventable diseases for school entry.
How does this process work?
The April 13 Board meeting marks the culmination of a decision-making process that began last fall. The Board initiated a vaccine review and instructed staff to convene a technical advisory group in October 2021. The TAG is an interdisciplinary group that reviews evidence to provide a recommendation to the Board on whether to include a new vaccine in the school entry requirements. In February, the TAG met three times where they received briefings and presentations from subject matter experts to assess the COVID-19 vaccine against nine criteria. The TAG also received parent and caregiver input provided through an online survey as part of the process.
What did the Technical Advisory Committee recommend?
At the February 24 TAG meeting, a majority of the TAG members voted to not recommend requiring the COVID-19 immunization for children in school and childcare. The vote tally was 7 non-supportive of the requirement, 6 supportive, and 4 unsure. The TAG’s role is to make a recommendation to the Board and the Board is the final decision maker. To date, the Board has consistently voted in alignment with vaccine recommendations made by previous TAGs.
What criteria are considered?
Nine criteria that fall under three categories are considered for determining whether to require a vaccine:
- Category 1— Vaccine effectiveness:
- Is the vaccine recommended by the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices?
- Is it effective based on medical data?
- Is it cost-effective from a societal perspective?
- Is it safe?
- Category 2 – Disease burden:
- Does the vaccine prevent a disease that has significant morbidity or mortality in a subset of the population?
- Does the vaccine reduce transmission, with a focus on childcare-setting transmissions?
- Category 3 – Implementation:
- Is the vaccine acceptable to the medical community and the public?
- Is the administrative burden of tracking and delivering the vaccine reasonable?
- Is the burden of compliance on parents/caregivers reasonable?
What happens if the Board votes to accept the TAG’s recommendation to NOT require COVID vaccines for school entry?
If the Board votes to adopt the TAG’s recommendation, the proof of vaccination requirements will stay the same and children will not be required to have proof of the COVID-19 vaccination or an applicable exemption to attend school or childcare. The Board’s recommendation can be revisited at any time in the future.
What happens if the Board votes to reject the TAG’s recommendation?
If the Board votes to reject the TAG’s recommendation, the Board will then direct staff to initiate a formal rulemaking process, including a formal comment period, to include COVID vaccines in the requirements for school entry. The Board’s recommendation can be revisited at any time in the future. Upon implementation of the requirement, parents and caregivers would be able to seek medical, religious, philosophical and personal exemptions
How do I participate in the meeting?
The Board meeting takes place Wednesday, April 13, 9:00 a.m. – 3:35 p.m. The agenda is available on the April 13 meeting web page. Materials will be available on Wed., April 6 by 5:00 p.m. Written public comments are accepted until Friday, April 8 at 12:00 Noon.
Where can I find more information?
Details about each TAG meeting, including all presentations and meeting materials, is available on each meeting web page on our Meetings page. Additional information is available: