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May 27, 2022

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State looking for input on possible vaccine mandate for schoolchildren

COVID-19 shot would be added to list that includes measles, mumps, tetanus

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SPOKANE — The Washington State Board of Health is seeking input from the public as a technical advisory group considers requiring the COVID-19 vaccine for children to attend school in the state.

The technical advisory group — formed from stakeholders in education, health and the public — will begin meeting to consider whether to add the COVID-19 vaccine to the state’s list of required vaccines for children and teens to attend school.

Such a vaccine requirement would not go into effect this school year, state Superintendent Chris Reykdal said in a webinar last week.

As part of its work, the technical advisory group has distributed an online survey for families to fill out.

The technical advisory group and the Board of Health will use set criteria to evaluate whether to require the COVID-19 vaccine for children.

Specifically, the survey seeks to understand how accessible the vaccine is for families and what burdens might exist to getting their children vaccinated if it was required.

The survey asks participants to rank certain responses on scales, but also has room for participants to write in answers.

The Washington State Board of Health makes the final decision about a vaccine requirement in schools, and the board does not expect to receive a recommendation from the technical advisory group for a few months.

The state already requires several vaccinations for children to attend school — including whooping cough, measles, mumps, tetanus and polio — with exemptions available for personal or religious reasons.

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